Four out of 11 inmates succumbed to gun shots during prison riot: Sri Lankan court

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Colombo, Dec 17 (PTI) At least four of the 11 inmates who were killed in last month's prison riot in Sri Lanka died of gun-shot injuries, a local court has said, as it took note of the findings of the interim report submitted to it by a panel probing the incident.

The suburban Wattala magistrate told the open court on Wednesday that the probe panel appointed by the government to investigate into the incident had reported this fact in their interim report issued last week.

The five-member probe committee’s interim report said that the riot at the Mahara prison on November 29 and 30 was caused by the protest staged by the inmates in fear of contracting the deadly coronavirus and to receive a quick solution to the COVID-19 issue.

Eleven inmates were killed in the protest. The government appointed the probe panel after pressure from the Opposition and the victims’ relatives.

The committee also observed that the inmates had violently involved in fisticuffs among them by using knives, clubs and swords found from within the prison premises. But none of the inmates had access to any firearms.

Only the prison officials had guns and they used them, the probe committee said.

Post mortem reports would reveal if the inmates had been shot dead, it had said.

The government defended the authorities’ action by claiming that the inmates had fought among themselves while damaging property. There was also an attempt for a jail break, the government claimed.

The magistrate ordered the immediate cremation of the four bodies as they had been detected with COVID-19 infection.

However, the lawyers for the deceased argued that bodies be buried to which the Attorney General’s lawyer pleaded to the court that as COVID-19 infected, they should be cremated and not buried in terms of health guidelines.

The magistrate further ordered that the postmortem reports of the rest of the 7 inmates must also be submitted to the court in confidence. PTI CORR RS RS