By Norman Palihawadane

Police have so far recorded statements from 35 people with regard to the death of 16-year-old Jude Kumar Ishalini at the residence of former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen. More arrests were likely, according to police.

Police headquarters sources said that the wife and father-in-law of Bathiudeen, as well as a broker who brought the teenager to the Bathiudeens, had been arrested over the incident.

The brother-in-law of Bathiudeen was arrested over a separate rape incident said to have taken place at Bathiudeen’s official residence when he was a minister.

Several police teams had been deployed to investigate the incident, Police said.

Police spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said the police would continue to report facts to the court and would take all measures to bring the perpetrators to justice.

At the age of 15, Ishalini was sent to work as a domestic aide at Badurdeen’s Colombo residence and a week ago she was admitted to the hospital with burns and succumbed to her injuries while being treated for serious burns at the Colombo National Hospital for 12 days.

The suspects were produced on Saturday before Colombo Additional Magistrate Kanchana Neranjana de Silva, who permitted them to be detained for 48 hours for questioning.

The Additional Magistrate also ordered that they be produced before court today (26)

It was revealed in court on Saturday that a broker residing in the Dayagama area who is currently in custody had provided 11 children as domestic aides to various members of the family of former Minister Bathiudeen.

Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris told the Court that the death of 16-year-old Ishalini, who worked as a maid at the suspect’s house, was a tragedy.

The Deputy Solicitor General said that a network was in operation to provide children from poverty stricken families faced with economic hardships, to rich families. Those innocent children were then made to serve as domestics of rich families.

The forensic medical report on the death of the girl has revealed that she had been sexually assaulted.

DSG Peiris said that the girl had come to work as a maid to pay off a loan of Rs. 30,000 taken by her mother.

According to the Deputy Solicitor General the incident was a good example of the modern child slave trade.