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Man attacks female lawyer inside court complex

A female lawyer was ambushed and assaulted inside the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court Complex as she arrived to give evidence in a criminal case.

The victim, Attorney-at-Law Hafsa Alif, was seen being physically assaulted by her ex-husband, Dr. Shazli Mawjooth, after he allegedly threatened to assault her if she proceeded to try and give evidence in court.

Alif made a detailed complaint to police post at the Magistrates Court complex describing the incident and naming her attacker and notified the acting magistrate who was presiding in court that day. Shortly after the assault, Alif was thereafter examined by the Judicial Medical Officer who recorded her injuries from the attack. Despite the presence of several witnesses and ample evidence, police did not arrest the attacker according to sources.

Yesterday, attorneys for the victim notified the permanent Magistrate of the incident by way of a motion, and court ordered that the matter be taken up in ten days from now, on February 23rd.

Assault or intimidation of a victim of crime or a witness in connection with their involvement in a judicial matter is a cognizable offence. According to special witness and victim protection legislation passed in 2015, suspects of such crimes are to wherever possible be denied bail until at least the conclusion of the judicial proceedings.

The punishment on conviction for such an assault is up to seven years imprisonment, legal sources said.

The inaction on the part of the authorities has caused particular alarm in legal and civil society. Ms. Hafsa Ali is the granddaughter of senior UPFA Minister A.H.M. Fowzie, and a close relative of mayoral candidate Azath Sally, and an heir to a wealthy business family.