Justice Minister appoints 5-member committee to probe Mahara Prison riot

Justice Minister appoints 5-member committee to probe Mahara Prison riot

November 30, 2020   07:46 pm

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Minister of Justice Ali Sabry has appointed a five-member committee to investigate the incident at the Mahara Prison on Sunday and to submit a report with recommendations.

The committee is chaired by retired High Court judge Sarojini Kusala Weerawardena and also includes Chief Legal advisor to the Ministry of Justice U. R. De Silva, Additional Secretary of the Justice Ministry Rohana Hapugaswatte, DIG Ajith Rohana and former Prisons Commissioner Gamini Jayasinghe.

Additional Secretary to the State Ministry of Prison Reforms and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Nishan Danasinghe has been appointed as the secretary of the committee.

The committee has been tasked with preparing a report on the facts underlying the incident, the parties responsible, actions to be taken and recommendations to be taken to prevent such incidents.

The committee is expected to submit an interim report within one week and recommendations on short-term and long-term actions within a month.

Eight inmates died while 71 persons were injured and admitted to the Ragama Hospital for treatment following the unrest at the Mahara Prison.

A tense situation had occurred at the Mahara Prison last evening (29) when a group of inmates had attempted to break out from prison following a conflict with prison officials.

Prison authorities had opened fire to control the situation and a team of Police Special Task Force (STF) personnel were deployed to assist prison authorities.

Subsequently, a massive fire had broken out at the prison when several inmates set fire to the health office, a storage area, and several other places within the prison.
 
The fire had raged on until 3 am this morning and was later completely extinguished with help of 06 fire trucks.

Two prison officials held hostage by prison inmates were rescued. However, the condition of one of the prison officials who was rescued after being held hostage is critical.

Commissioner-General of Prisons Thushara Upuldeniya said the situation has now been brought under control. 

Pandemic-related unrest has been growing in the country’s prisons. Inmates have staged protests in recent weeks at several prisons as the number of coronavirus cases surges in the facilities.

More than a thousand inmates in five prisons have tested positive for the coronavirus and at least two have died. About 50 prison guards have also tested positive.

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