During its inquiry, the State Police Complaints Authority (SPCA) has found enough material against eight officers of the Panaji police station which “suggests their direct involvement” in the custodial death of Cipriano Fernandes.
Accordingly, the SPCA secretary has filed a formal complaint against the eight policemen – PI Sandesh Chodankar, PSI Vijay Chodankar, head constables Sandip Shrivoikar, Sanjiv Salunke, Radhesh Ramnathkar, Shyam Amonkar, Ramesh Dessai and police constable Vishram Gaonkar. The SPCA has registered the complaint and issued notices to them. The police personnel have to reply by March 28.
SPCA, which had taken suo motu cognizance of newspaper reports alleging charges of custodial death of Moira resident Fernandes in Panaji police station, in its report said, “On the basis of the available material on record which somehow suggests direct involvement of officers of Panaji police station, who were on duty on 7/1/2011 and 8/1/2011, in death of Cipriano Fernandes in police custody”.
“Purportedly, as a result of acts of commission and omission practised by them while in discharge of their statutory duties, we direct the learned secretary of the authority to file and register a formal complaint on the grounds of gross/serious misconduct and/or abuse of the authority,” the report added.
SPCA had recorded statements of 31 policemen, sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) and the doctors at Goa Medical College and hospital.
It may be recalled that relatives of the victim and an NGO had alleged that Fernandes, 38, was arrested by Panaji police at Porvorim from his aunt’s residence on January 7, 2011, at around 10 pm.
“Police informed Cipriano’s cousin the next day at 3pm that he was arrested. Later at 7pm, the cousin was told that Cipriano has been released and admitted to Goa Medical College (GMC) as he was suffering from fits (convulsions). Once again he was informed by police at 9pm on January 9 that Cipriano died at 5pm. He was asked to collect the body,” Jatin Naik from Utt Goenkara said.
The SDM, who had inquired into Fernandes’ death, had in his report said that the victim had died in police custody after a panel of forensic doctors from GMC in their report said that Fernandes died due to head injuries that might have been caused by blunt blows on the head, which were caused 36 hours before the death.
Based on the SDM’s report, Crime branch has registered a case of murder against all the Panaji police personnel who were on duty from 10.30 pm on January 7 to 11.55 am on January 8, when Cipriano Fernandes was in police custody.
Cipriano died on January 9, two days after he was arrested by the Panaji police in GMC due to head injury. The policemen also face charges for destruction of evidence in the case