Key Characters

Dr. Seigu Siyabdeen Mohamed Shafi — Senior House Officer, Gynaecology and Obstetrics at the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital

  • Candidate of the United National Party at the General Elections of 2015 and secured 54,000 preferential votes and was placed 8th in the list of candidates on the basis of preferential votes received but was not elected as a Member of Parliament as the United National Party had obtained only 7 seats in the Kurunegala District.

Dr. M.N.F. Imara — Wife of Dr Shafi (Doctor @ Nephrology Unit at the Teaching Hospital in Kurunegala)

Kithsiri Jayalath — Kurunegala Police DIG in charge of the North-Western Province and acting DIG of Puttalam

  • Source of the Divaina story
  • Wife works at the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital

Dr. A. M. S. Weerabandara — Director of Kurunegala Teaching Hospital

  • Source of the Divaina story
  • Specialising Dentistry

Dr. Hiroshinie Jayasinghe Hewamana — Anaesthetist at the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital

  • Wife of the Kurunegala Magistrate (Sampath Hewawasam)

Hemantha Randunu — Divaina reporter for the story

Anura Solaman  — Divaina Editor


Key Parties Involved

  • Kurunegala Magistrates Court
  • Criminal Investigation Department (CID)
  • Kurunegala Teaching Hospital

Main Medical Procedures

Tube Litigation (LTR procedure)

Hysterosalpingogram (HSG test) (Source)

  • Checks for Blocked Fallopian Tubes
  • A hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is a procedure that uses an X-ray to look at your fallopian tubes and uterus. It usually takes less than 5 minutes and you can go home the same day.

Key events:

May 23rd:

Divaina newspaper publishes the story accusing Dr Shafi (doesn't mention doctor by name) of carrying out illegal sterilisation of 4000 Sinhalese women. Also, claims that he’s part of NTJ.

  • Speaker refutes news report on surgeon linked to NTJ (Source).
  • Facts of Divaina news regarding NTJ Doctor will be investigated - Speaker (Source).

May 25th:

  • Dr Shafi arrested for earning assets in a suspicious manner and handed over to the CID (Source).

May 26th:

  • Over 10 complaints on illegal sterilisation against Kurunegala doctor (Source).

May 28:

  • Protest in Kurunegala against Dr Shafi demanding zero political interference in the investigations (Source).

May 31:

  • Dambulla residents protest against Kurunegala Doctor (Source).

June 25:

  • Fundamental Rights petition filed (Source).
  • Shows that out of the purchase consideration of Rupees One Hundred and Thirty Million (Rs 130,000,000.00), Rupees Sixty Million (Rs 60,000,000.00) was paid by Dr Shafi and his partners jointly and the balance consideration was paid having obtained a financial facility from Amana Bank PLC.

June 27: Court Hearing

  • No evidence against Controversial Kurunegala Doctor Shafi – CID
  • 210-page progress report released. CID officers deposed for a total of 4.5 hours.
  • Questioned 135 witnesses including doctor’s colleagues, supervisors, and other medical staff.
  • No evidence that he was engaged in any illegal activity either to tamper with the Fallopian tubes of women he had performed cesarean sections or in any way to render his patients infertile.
  • Complaints against Dr Shafi:
  • Three women who warrant further investigation to be sent to the Judicial Medical Officer in Colombo who has set up three-member (each) specialist teams at the Castle Street Hospital and the De Zoysa Maternity Home.

  • The CID also reported that upon investigation it had been found that Dr.Shafi had no connection to extremist Islamic groups or terrorism.
  • They also investigated his assets and liabilities and also found that there were no issues there.
  • The CID also reported that there were “irregularities” in the way he was arrested.

Sources

July 11:

  • Three-month detention order against Dr Shafi withdrawn.
  • Further remanded until July 25 by the Kurunegala Magistrate’s Court (on the charge of suspicious accumulation of assets) until July 25 (Source).
  • CID submitted B report to the court
  • Reveals details about how Dr A.M.S. Weerabandara miscategorised several complaints (See below) lodged by women from the area as illegal LRTs in an attempt to mislead the court and the investigators.

  • Example 1: The patient underwent a third caesarian and LRT was performed by Dr Shafi with consent from the patient and her husband. She claimed she suffered complications following the procedure. The director incorrectly categorised this complaint as an illegal LRT. (Shamali Geethamala Karunatilaka)
  • Example 2: Dr Shafi had performed a C-section and asked a patient if she needed an LRT, the patient refused and there was no note in her diagnosis card about the procedure being performed. However, the director of the Hospital listed this complaint too as an illegal LRT. (Nirosha Lakmali)

  • CID noted the confusing manner in which the director had submitted relevant patient information to them.
  • CID noted that Dr Weerabandara had obstructed the Police officers from carrying out their duty as per court orders.
“The court had allowed for Doctors and Nurses of the hospital to provide statements to the investigators voluntarily. Accordingly, the CID had wished to obtain statements from three specialist doctors for their investigations. However, one doctor, Dr Priyanthi Ratnayake had inquired if the CID can visit the Hospital to obtain the statement as the date given was a clinic day. When the IP Ilangasinghe of the CID had visited the hospital on July 3 with a copy of a letter sent by the CID to the Director on July 2 requesting the statement to be recorded, the Director had refused to allow the Doctors to provide statements. He had taken offence to part of the letter presented by the CID officer,” (Sunday Observer)
  • CID has requested the courts to grant another order directing Dr Weerabandara to allow the CID to obtain statements from the doctors.
  • Dr Weerabandara also prevented a six-member committee appointed by the Ministry of Health from visiting the Kurunegala Hospital to conduct an investigation into the allegations only days after the so-called sterilisation scandal erupted.
  • Dr Weerabandara (a dentist) claimed on June 27th that the medical test (HSG) women making allegations had to go through could lead to cancer or death. The claim was debunked by experts.
  • CID reveals that the official court record from June 27th does not include this statement made by Dr Weerabandara.
  • The magistrate Hewamana suspended the HSG test for the women after the claim by Dr Weerabandara about the risks of the procedure.
  • Court stenographer claimed that the statement by Dr Weerabandara was left out of the record by the instructions of Magistrate Hewamanna.
  • CID has put in a request for a certified copy of the full court transcript from June 27.
  • CID also requested the court to allow the HSG(Hysterosalpingogram) test for the 147 mothers who complained that they experienced complications in conceiving for over two years after getting treated by Dr Shafi.

Sources:

July 19

  • Shafi’s wife and Young Journalists Association complain to Judicial Services Commission alleging bias and misconduct of Kurunegala Magistrate Sampath Hewawasam.
  • The Young Journalists citing several issues with regard to the conducting of the inquiry including allegations of bias states that the Criminal Investigations Department in their report dated July 11 had informed the Magistrate that 9 out of the 10 complaints against Dr Shafi were forged by the Kurunegala Police.  

Sources:

July 24 (Presidential Select Committee hearing)

  • Director of CID presents developments of Dr. Shafi case to the Parliamentary Select Committee regarding Dr. Shafi.

July 25 (Court hearing)

  • Dr. Shafi released on Rs. 250,000 cash bail and surety bail of 2.5 million.
Live updates from court proceedings by Anurangi Singh or Sunday Observer