India assures fair inquiry in Canicius' death
The Government has requested the Indian authorities to conduct an
independent and impartial inquiry into the shooting death of Migrant
Fishermen's representative Canicius Fernando at the Madurai Central
Prison on Friday.
Making a special statement in Parliament yesterday, Foreign Minister
Rohitha Bogollagama said he conveyed the request for a judicial inquiry
at the central level when he met Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka
Alok Prasad on Monday.
"We have further requested that a representative from the Sri Lankan
Government be permitted to take part in the judicial inquiry against the
alleged culprit. They have assumed an impartial inquiry at the
Magisterial level into the matter," he said.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has also instructed a law firm to assist
the Sri Lankan mission during the investigation.
Fernando who had visited the Madurai Prison on behalf of the All
Ceylon Trade Union for Migrant Fishermen to negotiate the release of
four Sri Lankan fishermen was allegedly shot dead by a prison guard at
the prison on Friday.
According to the Minister, Fernando was in possession of a valid
passport, visa and an authorising letter from the Deputy High
Commissioner in Chennai at the time of death. "The Indian authorities
have informed us that he was shot at since he failed to respond to an
order to stop.
Nonetheless, the prison guard in question has been suspended and the
investigations are proceeding," he said. He also expressed optimism that
the four fishermen detained at the Madurai Prison since June 30 would be
released on October 12. Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Minister Felix
Perera assured that the Government would do its utmost to obtain justice
and compensation for the family of the deceased.