Magistrate, Wildlife Officers indicted in High Court | Daily News
Baby elephant illegal possession case :

Magistrate, Wildlife Officers indicted in High Court

A sitting Magistrate, two Wildlife Officers and one other have been indicted in the High Court, Colombo, for illegal possession of a baby elephant and fraudulent documents and related offences. Attorney General Dappula de Livera PC yesterday filed indictments in the Colombo High Court against interdicted Magistrate Thilina Gamage and three others for unlawful possession of an elephant calf named ‘Sakura’ valued at Rs.6.9 million.

Co-ordinating Officer to the Attorney General, State Counsel Ms. Nishara Jayaratne, told news media that indictments had been filed against four accused: Magistrate Thilina Gamage, Chandrarathna Bandara Yatawara and, Wildlife Officers Upali Padmasiri and Priyanka Sanjeewani under 25 counts including possession of an elephant calf without a license, conspiracy to tender false documents and, registration of the concerned elephant calf by producing forged documents.

The charges were filed for violating the provisions of the Fauna and Flora Ordinance and Public Property Act. The Attorney General maintained that due to the fact that the elephant calf does not have a valid license, the elephant calf falls under the category of Public Property. Thus, the charges have been filed under the Public Property Act for the possession of an elephant calf stolen from the forest.

In this case, the elephant calf named ‘Sakura’ was allegedly sold by first accused Chandrarathna Bandara Yatawara (who had claimed that the elephant calf belonged to him) to fourth accused Thilina Gamage. The license pertaining to the elephant calf had been issued with the involvement of the second and third accused Upali Padmasiri and Priyanka Sanjeewani respectively who were employed in the Wild Life Department.

The first accused Yatawara, has claimed to be the first owner of the elephant calf. He had submitted an application form on November 12, 2008, under the address of No. 409, Ovitigama, Meegoda, to obtain the license for Sakura, who was then three years old. In obtaining the license, it has been recorded that the mother of the elephant calf named ‘Sakura’ was dead, and has not been registered either.

In his affidavit produced to the Wild Life Department in 2008, the first accused has stated that he was the hereditary owner of the elephant calf. Later on, he had made a contradictory statement to the effect that he got the elephant calf from an uncle. However, when his National Identity Card was inspected at an inquiry held by the Wild Life Department in 2010, it was revealed that he is employed as a welder.

The Attorney General also observed that there were clear discrepancies and contradictions between the two addresses provided by the first accused in 2008 and 2012. It has also been revealed that forged documents were tendered to register the concerned elephant calf.

The Attorney General further alleged that fourth accused Thilina Gamage committed the offences of possession of an elephant calf without a license and conspiracy to tender false documents and registration of the said elephant calf by producing forged documents.

 


 

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