Four persons acquitted in ‘Ali Roshan’ elephant trafficking case

The Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar yesterday ordered to acquit four accused in a case filed against Samarappulige Niraj Roshan, alias ‘Ali Roshan’, and seven others, for allegedly keeping five elephants in their possession without valid permits, and racketeering them.

The Trial-at-Bar maintained that there is no sufficient evidence to prove charges against the four accused. Accordingly, former Wildlife Conservation Department Clerk Priyanka Sanjeewani; and Mahouts Chandana Kumara, Sashika Chanuka, and Damith Chathuranga; were acquitted from the case. However, the case will continue against the remaining four accused, including ‘Ali Roshan’. It will be taken up again on July 6 for further trial.

The case was taken up before the Trial-at-Bar Bench comprising Colombo High Court Judges Vikum Kaluarachchi (President), Dhammika Ganepola, and Aditya Patabandige. The Attorney-General filed indictments against elephant-trafficking kingpin Samarappulige Niraj Roshan and seven others for unlawful possession of five elephants valued at Rs.30 million.

The Attorney-General filed indictments against ‘Ali Roshan’, his relative Samarappuli Hewage Uchitha Nishan Dhammika, Wildlife officers Upali Padmasiri and Priyanka Sanjeewani, Kadupitiyage Chandana Kumara, Sashika Chanuka Gamlath, Palihapitiya Gamage Jayalath, and Ranasinghelage Damith Chathuranga, over conspiring to traffic five elephants between June 5, 2012, and August 31, 2015.

The charges were filed under 28 counts for violating the provisions of the Fauna and Flora Ordinance and Public Property Act, including conspiracy to traffic elephants, trafficking of elephants, unlawful possession of elephants, and retention of stolen public property (elephants).

On a previous occasion, the Colombo High Court had ordered to release ‘Ali Roshan’ and six others last March as the Permanent High Court had no jurisdiction to hear the case; it had been filed under Section 27 of Fauna and Flora Ordinance and Section 5(3) of the Public Property Act.

Therefore, the Attorney-General, in a special request from the Chief Justice, had requested the appointment of a tripartite bench to take up the case filed at the Colombo High Courts. The Attorney-General had then filed 28 charges against ‘Ali Roshan’ and the seven others. Former Wildlife Assistant Director Upali Padmasiri is also among the eight accused in this case.

Deputy Solicitor-General Dileepa Peiris and Senior State Counsel Janaka Bandara appeared on behalf of the Attorney-General. President’s Counsel Anuja Premaratne appeared on behalf of the accused.

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