The Horowpathana Police had arrested the five suspects on May 24th based on charges of spreading extremism and several other allegations.
The next day on May 25th, Lankadeepa had published a headline story claiming that two of the arrested suspects from the Saharan clan had a billion rupees in their bank accounts. The news was published together with the photographs of the five arrested suspects.
Those arrested were Nuhuge Sakaria, Seinul Abdil Infan, Lebbe Thambi Jasmine, Seinul Abdeen Kalifatullah of the Kebithigollewa Police area and Mohideen Bawa Naufer from the Horowpathana Police Division.
According to the family members of those arrested, so far no legal establishment had found proof that the arrested suspects had a billion rupees in their bank accounts.
However, due to the language issue, these arrested persons have been unable to explain their situation and are in a precarious situation. However, the Lankadeepa report was published even prior to the ‘B’ report being filed in
However, the ‘B’ report has now been presented to court by the TID.
But, the ‘B’ report filed on July 27th does not mention anything about the billion rupees found in their bank accounts as published by Lankadeepa.
Horowpathana Police OIC’s statement
Meanwhile, upon inquiry the Horowpathana Police OIC Roshan Sanjeewa said that neither he nor any of his officers had mentioned anything to the media about Rs. 1 billion being found in the bank accounts of the arrested
OIC Sanjeewa told Sri Lanka Mirror that due to this false news report his police station had to face an issue and an investigation had been launched on his police station.
Kebithigollewa Police OIC’s statement
Based on the statement by the family members of the arrested persons that prior to their arrest the suspects were summoned to the Horowpathana Police and a statement had been obtained, we made an inquiry from the
Kebithigollewa Police OIC as well.
He confirmed that the suspects had been summoned to the police station and a statement had been recorded regarding allegations that this group was spreading Islamic extremism.
However, he said that he had not obtained any information regarding this group being affiliated to the Saharan group nor had he received any information regarding a billion rupees being deposited in the bank accounts
of these suspects.
Who are the five arrested persons?
According to the wife of Seinul Abdil Irfan who resides in Ellawewa, Fathima Shahida, let alone having a billion rupees in his account, her husband does not even have a bank account.
“Let alone bank accounts and vehicles, we don’t even have a place to stay. We struggle to make ends meet. Hence, how can this paper claim that we have a billion rupees in our account? The police came that day and searched our whole house but they did not find anything incriminating.”
Irfan is a father of one and is a Maulavi. His wife is a housewife. Not having a home of their own he and his family lives in a small house together with 15 others belonging to five families.
He travels two km every day to teach Islam and does not even have a bicycle. He said after this incident they are being branded as an IS family and questioned why they need to suffer so much to make ends meet if they
had a billion rupees.
All of these families of the suspects are living in dire poverty and many of them have no home to call their own and don’t even have the basic facilities.
Lankadeepa Editor’s apology
We also inquired from the Editor of Lankadeepa and the two reporters who reported this story on whether they had verified this story and if they had evidence to support their report.
However, the Editor said that there was not enough time to verify the story and that he regrets that the story published had proved to be false.
When contacted, the female reporter who filed the story arrogantly said that she was not bound to give us an explanation as to why she had not verified her story prior to publishing it, adding that she had not been given the information by the Horowpathana Police regarding the Rs. 1 billion in the accounts of the suspects.
She said that she had no time to study the report of the provincial reporter or the bank details of the five suspects, adding that she had used the information received from the police as a reliable source and prepared the report.