L. M. Beatrice, a key witness in Sri Lanka s first ever hospital murder case in which a doctor has been charged with killing of 23-year-old garment factory employee Chamila Dissanayake at the Negombo General Hospital last November has regained her employment after the intervention of the Negombo Labour office, following an expose in The Island.
The private janitorial service dismissed her after the majority of doctors at the Negombo hospital had demanded her removal.
Beatrice, a mother of four grown up children had been represented by labour consultant Brito Fernando of Right to Life, an NGO based in the area.
Authoritative sources said that the Attorney General s Department would shortly present a Witness Protection Bill in Parliament. Once approved by House, it would ensure protection of the likes of Beatrice who risked her life.
After heated exchanges, the private janitorial service had agreed to re-employ her with a week s back wages, Freddy Gamage, the editor of local newspaper Meepura said.
Beatrice who earns Rs. 285 a day had been attached to the theatre on the seventh floor at the time she incurred the wrath of a section of the medical staff by giving evidence against at 33-year-old Dr. Indika Sudarshan Balage. She was subsequently moved to the theatre on the second floor before being dismissed on disciplinary grounds. With her reinstatement, she has been assigned to Ward 2. The sources said that a section of the doctors continued to resist her reinstatement.
Negombo police arrested the suspect on the strength of a statement given by Beatrice after she obtained the approval of her employer. Medical examinations established that the victim, a patient of the suspect had been raped and strangled before she was pushed out of the sixth floor of the new wing of the hospital, where the doctor had his quarters. Her body bore injuries in the genital area, a police spokesman said, asserting that had Beatrice remained silent as advised by a member of nursing staff, Chamila killing would have been swept under the carpet.
A section of the doctors also targeted some minor employees who stood by Beatrice, sources said.
Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) on Saturday said that it couldn t move against the suspect without receiving a formal complaint. A senior spokesman said that the council would act once it received a complaint from a magistrate, head of a department or the public with supporting documents. He said the SLMC wouldn t act on media reports.
Sri Lanka Medical Association which is represented on the SLMC said that tough action needed to be taken against anyone irrespective of his or her standing in the society. An SLMA spokesperson said that inordinate delay in taking action on this particular issue would be damaging to the entire medical profession.
The GMOA said that it was a trade union. `We wouldn t take action against the suspect,` a senior spokesman said, claiming the SLMC had launched an inquiry.