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The case of U. A. Somawathi and the Court System

 To get the copies of the proceedings applicant had to file a motion, which she did on November 18, 2010. She was instructed to return the following day to pay for the transcript, but when she arrived on November 19, 2010 she was told that the case record was not in the office.

by Harshi C. Perera

(November 25, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The case of U. A. Somawathi is well known the country over. Somawathe has been kept in remand prison at the women’s ward in the Welikada prison for more than seven years and the Attorney General’s office has been dragging its feet the entire time.

Her case, number 51443, was last heard in the Moratuwa Magistrate Court on November 16, 2010. The judge gave an urgent reminder to the AG to speed its prosecution and sent Somawathe back to remand. The next court hearing will be on November 30, 2010.

To get the copies of the proceedings applicant had to file a motion, which she did on November 18, 2010. She was instructed to return the following day to pay for the transcript, but when she arrived on November 19, 2010 she was told that the case record was not in the office. The registrar told her to return again which she did, but then the applicant was told she would instead have to wait until the afternoon to get her own case file. When she returned to the registrar at 2:15pm, a court officer told her the case record was sent out for signature. It was not until 3:45 that the registrar accepted applicant’s payment for her case record but they still told her she would have to wait until November 24, 2010, nearly a week later, to actually retrieve the file.

The applicant’s motion requested photocopies of all fundamental evidence, the urgent appeal to the AG and all further reports that were sent by the accused through the prison system including those sent before November 4, 2010. The court registrar made the process nearly impossible by claiming that the photocopy machine was broken and then that instead of photocopies applicant would have to request certified copies, a more labor intensive procedure. The registrar also said that the file would only have copies of the proceedings after November 4, 2010 – they claimed that files from before that date were unavailable.

When the applicant visited the court on November 24, 2010, she was told that the typist had not yet typed up her file. She was made to wait an additional thirty-five minute and then finally received a copy of her case file.

The applicant behalf of Somawathi was forced to waste nearly three days of time and a great deal of expense just to see a copy of Somawathi’s case file.

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