On the May 7, 2014 Sandun Malinga, a 17 year old boy and four others with him were beaten by police officers, arrested and detained at the Kandaketiya police in the Badulla district. Sandun and the other four were taken to the District Medical Officer (DMO), brought back to the police, taken to a Magistrate and remanded in the Badulla remand prison in the evening. The following day, May 9, around 5.30 am his brother who had been also remanded saw Sandun panting and struggling for breath and alerted the prison officers who took him to the hospital but it was too late to save Sandun’s life.
As per the post mortem report, early medical attention could have saved Sandun’s lifeThe SC noted that when Sandun and others were taken to the District Medical Officer (DMO) in Meegahakiwula, the DMO had a private conversation with one of the police officers for about 30 minutes but had not inquired about any wounds on or assault of Sandun and others. The SC stated that the DMO had not fulfilled his obligation to the best of his ability and that he should have given more attention to the health of the Sandun and others.
Sandun’s family, campaigned for justice and on January 9, 2017 the Badulla High Court sentenced to death five police officers and a civil defense force officer for causing Sandun’s murder. On May 21, 2021 in a fundamental rights case, the Supreme Court (SC) awarded compensation to Sandun’s mother, declaring that the same six officers had violated the constitutional rights of Sandun. The specific rights violated were the right not to be subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (Article 11), equal protection of the law (Article 12-1) and not to be arrested except according to due procedure established by law (Article 13-1). The post mortem report revealed several injuries including blunt force head and chest injuries involving the brain, heart and lungs, which according to the SC were not due to a ‘commotion’ or a result of the use of ‘minimal force’ as claimed by police officers but due to heavy attacks. The SC also awarded compensation to the other four arrested with Sandun whose rights were also violated by the same officers in the incident.