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Pattani Razeek: No justice 5 years after

abduction and killing

Ph
oto courtesy AFAD

by Ruki - on 02/11/2015

On 11th February 2015, it will be five


years since the abduction of Pattani Razeek, a well-known human rights
defender in Sri Lanka. His body was exhumed on 28th July 2011. At the time
of his abduction, he was the Managing Trustee of the Community Trust Fund
(CTF) (www.ctfsrilanka.org) and an Executive Committee Member of the
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
(www.forum-asia.org).
The case has still not been resolved. A key suspect arrested has been
released and later made a witness, at least one more person likely to be
involved has not been named a suspect nor been arrested and its not
known whether a third person identified as a suspect has been arrested or
not. Compelling evidence appears not to have been examined, Police
appear to me mismanaging the investigation and in leading evidence in
Courts. The Post Mortem report seems to indicate that the delay in
exhumation of the body has made it impossible to determine the exact
cause of death.
Court cases:

Initially there were several court cases filed at Puttalam and Polonnaruwa
Courts relating to the disappearance of Mr. Razeek. Some have been
concluded and others have been amalgamated into one case now case
number 92264 at the Pollonnaruwa Magistrate Courts. Next date for hearing
of the case is 25th February 2015.
Police case BR 177/10/P before the Puttalam Magistrate Courts, Police case
A.R 142/2010 before the Pollonnaruwa Magistrate Courts and Police case
651/2011 before the Polonnaruwa Magistrate Courts have been combined
to above case (922264). Land case before the District Court, Puttalam (No.
57913) regarding a land dispute between Mr. Razeeks brother and Mr. M.
Nihmaths (who Mr. Razeeks family, friends and colleagues suspect to be
involved in the abduction and killing) relatives who lived near Mr. Razeeks
residence in Mundalama has been concluded.
DNA & Post Mortem reports and Death Certificate:
In August 2011, following a court order, four teeth, muscle samples, a
femur bone acquired from Mr. Razeeks body, and a blood sample from Mr.
Razeeks son Rikshan were sent to the Gene Tech Computer lab for a DNA
analysis by Colombo Crime Division (CCD). When DNA Report submission
was late, Riskhan called Genetech regarding the DNA report on 2nd
February 2012 and he was informed that the DNA report will be submitted
to court in two weeks. However, 9 months after the court order, on 29th
May 2012, it was informed to the court that the DNA testing was
unsuccessful. The reasons mentioned were that DNA contained in the bone,
muscle and teeth may have been subjected to degradation due to
prolonged exposure to environmental conditions such as high humidity or
high temperature and also the amount of biological material may have
been insufficient.
The Post Mortem report has been released on 12th June 2012 after the Post
Mortem conducted in July 2011 and it appears to conclude that exact cause
of death is unascertainable due to the body being in an advanced state of
putrefaction. However, it was mentioned that gagging, smothering, ligature
strangulation, manual strangulation cannot be excluded as cause of death.
The Death certificate, issued only on 28th October, also says the cause of
death cannot be determined.
Releasing the 1st suspect and making him a witness:
The first suspect, Sahabdeen Nowshaadh was released after being arrested,
and was named as a witness by the Attorney Generals Department.
Through a letter dated 4th April 2012, the Department had advised Senior
Superintendent of Police (SSP) in Polonnaruwa to inform the Magistrate

Court that they no longer expect to take legal action against the first
suspect and that he could be released. Through another letter dated 24th of
April 2012, the Department had informed the Colombo Crime Division (CCD)
that they have decided to release Sahabdeen Nowshaadh, and to name him
as a witness of the case.
There are doubts whether the conversion of Nowshaadh from a suspect to
witness is due to his links with Minister Baududeen. In the Anticipatory Bail
(Revision Petition, case no. HCR 08/10) concluded in the Puttalam High
Court, Nowshaadh has admitted that he is a close associate of Minister
Rishad Badudeen and he had met Mr. Razeek on 11th February 2010 and to
being in the same area (Pollonnaruwa) at the time Mr. Razeek disappeared.
Nowshaad was arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) on 9th
July 2011 and released on bail on 4th November 2011. As per the report
submitted to Polonnaruwa Magistrate by Officer in Charge of the Colombo
Crime Division (CCD), on 10th February 2012 (Court case B/651/2011),
charges against Nowshaad were requesting a 20 million Rupees of ransom,
appearing as LTTE, disappearance of Pattani Razeek, collecting funds for
LTTE, purchasing weapons with that money, and conspiring to fight against
government forces. Charges concerning Nowshaads connection with LTTE,
fundraising for LTTE, and conspiring to fight against government forces
seem to be fabricated charges because during this time, similar kind of
claims were made against those arrested under PTA. These fabricated
charges might have underestimated his connection with Mr. Razeeks
disappearance.
In the court hearings, Mr. Nowshaads lawyer has admitted that the phone
which was used to make ransom calls belonged to Nowshaad. Also
Nowshaads lawyer argued that no phone call was made from a SIM
belonging to Nowshaad. But in the police investigation, it was revealed that
the SIM cards used for the ransom were Mr. Razeeks and the ransom calls
were made using a phone belonging to Nowshaad (Police case before
Puttalam Magistrate BR/177/10 P report submitted by the Officer in
Charge of the Puttalam Police). Mr. Razeeks son also alleges that
investigations have revealed that several phone calls received by Mr.
Razeek prior to the abduction were from 4 numbers, the sim cards of which
had been purchased in the name of one of the Trustees of CTF, Mr. Rafeek.
Nowshaad was the President of the Citizens Committee, an initiative of CTF.
Mr. Razeeks son has also expressed his disappointment regarding the
release of Nowshaadh, the first suspect, despite of many evidences
available against him, including the fact that Nowshaadh has admitted in
his anticipatory bail application that he has met Mr. Razeek on the day of

abduction and to being in the same area (Pollonnaruwa) at the time that Mr.
Razeek disappeared.
Other suspects:
Only one person is named as an accused at the moment and his name is
Mushdeen who confessed about the abduction of Mr. Razeek. He too has
also been released on bail on 2nd March 2012. It was based on his
confession, that the body of Mr. Razeek was unearthed. But his motive of
murdering Mr. Razeek seems not clear. Therefore Mr. Razeeks relatives
suspect that Mushdeen was not acting alone in this case and was supported
by people who know Mr. Razeek personally. This point can be supported
through the demands of the abductors. According to a statement given to
the Police by the son of Mr. Razeek, the demands of the abductors were
following; Rs.20 million be paid as pocket money to the abductors, the
family should provide details of CTF assets and that the trustees should
transfer any properties held in their name to the Nujoom Trust a trust set
up by Mr. Nihamath a former trustee. These demands indicate that the
abductor(s) knew Mr. Razeeks activities more than Mushdeen who seem to
be unaware of relationship between Mr. Razeek and CTF.
It is surprising that the first suspect, Nowshaadh has been named as a
witness of the case, and Nihmath has never been named as a suspect.
Thus, Mushdeen appears to have become the main suspect of the case. It is
difficult to understand that Mushdeen, who was a total stranger to Mr.
Razeek, had committed the murder of Mr. Razeek without an influence from
Mr. Razeeks enemies at workplace and wanted to gather information on
CTF, and to transfer CTF funds to another organization. It is more likely,
according to relatives of Mr. Razeek, that Mushdeen was hired by either
Nowshaadh or Nihmath who were connected to CTF and who had several
disputes with Mr. Razeek. One of the demands of the abductors was to
provide details of CTF assets and that the trustees transfer any properties
held in their name to the Nujoom Trust a trust set up by Mr. Nihamath (the
former Trustee General of CTF) in 2009. However no investigations appear
to have been conducted regarding Mr. Nihmaths connection with the
disappearance except two verbal statements taken from him by Mundalama
Police and CCD.
Also Police appear not to have reported to Magistrate regarding abductors
demand to transfer the CTF funds to the Nujoom Trust a trust set up by Mr.
Nihmath, even though Razeeks family members have mentioned this in
their verbal statements given to the Police.
Police had also identified another suspect, Mohamed Shammi, the driver of

the van which has been suspected as having been used for the
disappearance of Mr. Razeek. It is not clear whether sufficient effort was
taken to conduct proper investigations on his connection with Mr. Razeeks
disappearance. Although the Police had requested a court order to be
issued to arrest him on arrival from overseas, follow up action on this is not
known.
To the best of our knowledge, the Police also dont appear to have
questioned or produced before courts, the following who appear to have
information related to abduction and killing of Mr. Razeek.

Mr. Irshard, the then Parliamentary Secretary to Minister Rishard


Bathiudeen, who stated publicly, in October 2010, that Mr. Razeek was held
by the Defense Ministry;

Persons traveling in the vehicle with suspect Mushdeen, in which Mr.


Razeek was abducted;
Persons traveling with suspect Nowshaadh, who admitted to meeting Mr.
Razeek in Polonnaruwa on the day he disappeared. According to
Nowshaadh, he and several others were traveling in a vehicle belonging to
the Resettlement Ministry, then headed by Minister Bathiudeen at the time;

Weaknesses in Police investigations and pursuance of the case:


In some occasions, the case appears to have been delayed due to
weaknesses of the Police. For example, the Judge has mentioned that the
evidences have not been presented properly and had not been filed
according to code of criminal procedures (Case no. B/651/2011on 6th
August 2012). As a result, the statements from Mr. Razeeks son, Mr.
Razeeks wife, and employees of CTF were recorded by CCD following
instructions of the judge which resulted in prolonging the trial.
When will Justice be done?
More than 3 years ago, in November 2011, the final report of the
Presidential Commission of Inquiry, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation
Commission (LLRC), dedicated several paragraphs to comment on the case
of Pattani Razeek. Its comments on page 162 are worth repeating;
(Paragraph) 5.31 Among the many disturbing allegations concerning
missing persons submitted to the Commission by the general public,
especially during its visits to conflict-affected areas, the case of Mr. Razik
Pattani in Puttlam, is referred to here on account of the Commissions own
disappointing experience concerning that case. It highlights the deplorable
absence of conclusive law enforcement action, despite the Commission
itself bringing this case to the attention of the concerned authorities of the

area. Mr. Raziks body was reportedly discovered while the Commission was
writing its report. Timely action could probably have saved this life.
(Paragraph) 5. 32 Mr. Razik who had been an official of an NGO providing
assistance to the IDPs in Puttalam was abducted allegedly due to the fact
that he had questioned the manner in which some of the expenditures have
been incurred by the NGO as well as the purchase of some properties under
the names of some of its directors. When inquires were made from the
relevant Deputy Inspector-General of Police in the area as to why there was
a delay in arresting the alleged abductor following a court order, he has
reportedly said that the Police was not aware of the suspects whereabouts
and if the people know where he was, let the police know so that they could
arrest him. It was alleged in this regard that the suspect evaded arrest due
to his political connections. If this is established, it must be mentioned that
such an attitude would completely erode the public confidence, in particular
in the Police, and make the maintenance of law and order much more
difficult. The Commission is equally concerned that undue political
interference has also contributed to the lapses on the part of the Police.
Sadly, it seems that absolutely no attention has been paid to LLRCs
comments on the case, and we are not closer to justice more than three
years after the LLRCs report.
It remains to be seen whether there will be justice for Pattani Razeek and
his family under the new government, which has promised yahapalanaya
(good governance) and rule of law.
Ruki Fernando & Damith Chandimal
11th February 2015
Note: For more detailed reports on background and developments in the
first two years, see