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The two small scale businessmen who were arrested by the Police even as President Gotabaya Rajapaksa claimed there is no impediment to mass protests in the country, have now been granted bail by the Courts.

The Colombo Magistrate's Court on Monday (20) ordered the release of Charles Pradeep, President of the United National Self-Employment Trade Union (UNEWU), and the other arrested person on two sureties of Rs. 50,000 each.

However, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had told the UN Secretary General in New York that his government would not interfere in public protests.

The UNEWU staged a protest on Sunday (19) in front of the Fort Railway Station demanding that they be allowed to trade in the same way that liquor stores have been functioning despite the country being locked up to control the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fort Police arrested the two suspects on charges of violating the quarantine law.

Though Pradeep had pointed out to the Police the protest was being held under strict health guidelines, a policeman arriving at the venue had claimed “These acts cannot be carried out in Sri Lanka!''. This was caught on camera by journalists present at the protest.

 

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The two suspects were produced before the Colombo Magistrate's Court yesterday where the Police claimed the group had violated Covid-19 regulations by holding the protest. They also claimed that they intend to arrest several more protestors and therefore requested the courts to remand the suspects already arrested.

Lawyers representing the suspect have stated in Court that their clients' protest was held in a manner that did not violate the quarantine laws and had followed health regulations.

After considering the facts presented, the Magistrate ordered the two suspects to be released on two sureties.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met with President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa at the UN headquarters in New York on the afternoon of September 19. During the meeting, Rajapaksa had stated that his aim was to strengthen democracy in Sri Lanka and there is no use of batons and water cannons on protestors as previous governments have done.

The Presidential Media Unit in a release also said that the President during his meeting with the UN chief noted he had even set aside a separate place near his office for protesters.