20 November, 2019

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Ahimsa To Appeal Decision In U.S. Extrajudicial Killing Case Against Gotabaya Rajapaksa

The United States District Court for the Central District of California granted former Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s motion to dismiss Ahimsa Wickrematunge’s lawsuit against him for the assassination of her father, prominent Sri Lankan journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge.

Lasantha

The Court held that it lacks the jurisdiction to consider Wickrematunge’s claims, because, in the Court’s view, Rajapaksa is entitled to common law foreign official immunity for the acts that are alleged—acts of torture, extrajudicial killing, and crimes against humanity. The Court found that these acts were committed in his official capacity as Sri Lanka’s Secretary of Defense.

The Court made no finding on the actual merits of the allegations against Rajapaksa, which include his alleged responsibility for the extrajudicial killing of Lasantha Wickrematunge and for the Sri Lankan government’s campaign of violence against journalists during Sri Lanka’s civil war.

The decision comes even though Lasantha’s assassination was neither authorized nor ratified by the Sri Lankan government, and Rajapaksa presented no evidence to suggest the contrary.

Plaintiff and her counsel will challenge the decision. “This is a disappointing setback in my family’s long fight for justice on behalf of my father, as well as for the movement to end impunity for the killing of journalists in Sri Lanka. My father was a civilian driving to his office when he was brutally assassinated on the street. Killing a journalist because of their reporting should never be seen as an official state act and my lawyers and I will continue to fight to ensure perpetrators of these abuses do not escape justice,” says Ahimsa Wickrematunge.

“An end to impunity is precisely what the Torture Victim Protection Act was designed to provide in cases like this. There is no immunity when government officials act outside their authority to torture and murder journalists. Defendant Rajapaksa, a U.S. citizen, can and must be held accountable in U.S. courts,” says Natalie L. Reid of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, counsel to Ahimsa.

Background 

On April 4, 2019, CJA filed a complaint for torture, extrajudicial killing and crimes against humanity under the Torture Victim Protection Act and Alien Tort Statute against Gotabaya Rajapaksa, former Sri Lankan Secretary of Defense. At the time of filing, Rajapaksa was a U.S. citizen, and CJA served him while he was visiting the United States. After CJA filed the case, Rajapaksa announced his candidacy in the Sri Lankan Presidential election.

Rajapaska sought to dismiss the case on a number of defenses, including on grounds that he was afforded immunity for actions taken during his tenure as Secretary of Defense. Rajapaksa also sought to stay the case until after Sri Lanka’s Presidential election, in which he is running as a candidate, based on the assumption that he would be entitled to head of state immunity should he be elected.

CJA and Debevoise opposed both motions, arguing that the caseshould not be dismissed because the Sri Lankan government has never requested immunity on Rajapaksa’s behalf, and that neither Lasantha’s assassination nor the targeted campaign against journalists are official acts. Moreover, justice is unavailable in Sri Lanka: statements from international experts Juan Mendez and Steven Ratner, and Sri Lankan constitutional scholar Suri Ratnapala show that human rights cases against the Rajapaksa administration, like this one, cannot proceed in Sri Lanka without facing judicial interference, delay, and danger to litigants and witnesses. Rajapaksa, a U.S. citizen at the time of the events in question and when the case was filed, should be held accountable under U.S. laws prohibiting torture and extrajudicial killing. The plaintiff’s opposition briefs and supporting expert declarations can be found here. (Center for Justice and Accountability)

Full judgement can be read here

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Latest comments

  • 24
    4

    All cases against Gota, here and abrodd seem to be getting thrown ‘out-of-hand’ without any elaboration of reasons.
    \
    Is this a sign of an international conspiracy to get this man in to power?
    \
    Though the US court decision looks comprehensive and terminal, Good Luck Ahimsa.

    • 24
      6

      Shenal
      It seems quite obvious. There seems to be some vested interest here from US.
      US has not denied that Gota is not a US citizen any where. Instead they say some gibberish and throw out the case.
      I wonder what Gota has promised the US if he becomes president?
      Must be something tangible. After all a dictator can and will take laws into his own hands and do and undo as he pleases.
      It’s not too late, to take a stand against this cowardly maniac and deny him a win.

      • 13
        1

        So much for the Rajapaksa cult followers who were mad with the US for allegedly supporting the LTTE, and later on Ranil, now that their man seems to be getting the blessings of the US, they are okay with it.
        We are owned by China and America.
        Isn’t life funny?

        • 1
          1

          Nelum, You ask, ‘Isn’t life funny?’. I am not so sure; but, you certainly are, funny. You know who ‘owns’ you? Your ignorance!

          • 2
            0

            No one can’t help it if you respond with insults because you lack the ability to respond intelligently.

            • 0
              0

              Nelum, You have just established that I was dead right!

      • 2
        3

        Dear Gemini Cricket, Whatever the ruling was, to allege that US vested interest played a role in it is rather juvenile. US courts do not play politics.

      • 1
        10

        My dear FOOL Mr. Gamini.,
        Cant you all accept the fact that all cases are thrown away because GR is innocent.
        Don’t you think this is just harassment against a innocent man.
        Don’t you think Ahimsa, Ranil, MY3 and few other fools have tried everything under the sun to stall GR’s nomination.
        Best option now you all have is to go to Alfa Century and file a case there claiming solar system courts are conspiring with GR.
        And when it thrown away you all can cry claiming whole universe is conspiring with Gota….

        • 2
          1

          Pasqual
          How could a court know if someone is innocent without a hearing?
          Switch on your brain, open your eyes and ears mister.
          Wake up!

          • 1
            2

            My Dear Mr. Gamini Siricat.
            /
            These cases getting thrown away because there is no case even to prob…..
            /
            We are awake………. Get ready for celebrations.

      • 5
        1

        Gemini Cricket
        All what you have said can be true or is in fact true.
        That is exactly why the voters in SL should be careful in
        NOT casting of their votes for the cowardly maniac Gotler Rajapakse to counter evil US shenanigans in SL.

    • 15
      2

      Looks like this time we know who America’s puppet might be this time. Things are happening in the most timely way for the Goat man.
      So convenient.

      • 6
        13

        Though I hate Rajapaksas to the core., for once I wish GoRa will be the next president and he will make a mockery of a regime and that will be the end of the cursed Rajapaksas of Ruhuna as we see the end of the SLFP and Banda dynasty.

        lets vote for Gotler,. see how a military dictatorship will do much harm to the country.

        GO GO GO Gotler !

    • 14
      1

      US is not worried about justice in any other country other than USA. Recently an American lady made an accident in UK and ran away to US back and the victims (UK citizens) could not get justice from UK and USA. We in Srilanka how many murders were carried out during Mahinda & Gota Regime along with Karuna and Douglas? Is any one brought into justice whether in Ranil govt. or Mahinda Govt? Poor Sinhalese, Poor Tamils and Poor Muslims never get justice because we ruled by Rich.

      • 3
        0

        The US District Court dismissed the case on grounds that the defendant is entitled to common law foreign official immunity.
        The appeal will be based on the position Natalie L. Reid, the council for Ahimsa, takes that, “An end to impunity is precisely what the Torture Victim Protection Act was designed to provide in cases like this. There is no immunity when government officials act outside their authority to torture and murder journalists.”
        I think Ahimsa still has a fair chance to overturn the verdict of the District court.

    • 6
      0

      Shenal,

      the sums they looted while being in power is now being set well to higher powerful lawyers regardless of the geographical location.
      :
      See, how even high criminal cases ended up being rejected by HC in Colombo. I refer to that AVANGARDE which made losses amounting to the size going beyond the so called MAHABANKU -central bank theft.
      :
      For some reasons, all is painted in favour of the roudies.
      The main problem is they themselves dont do the job but obsequeous media coverages.
      Last night I happened to listen to DILKA samanmali an another servile servant of Dilip Jayweera s channel (Derana) made struggle not to being able to bring counter arguments to YOUNG minister Fernando.
      They the kind of MEDIA journos today are caught by the tricks being applied by media producers.
      Media producers are just men, that would do anything to promote their businesses over the dead bodies of the GENERAL public.
      They dont care abou thte FREQUENCIES, which are the public property , but their pockets. Harvest is gone to Rajapakshe Ballige puthas.
      I think MEDIA owners of Dilip jayaweera and RAJAPAKSHES should be hung by their balls if this country to see it forward.
      People are made like LAB RATs… through abusive media.
      Nobody seem to have power shine a voice against MEDIA terrorism of Hiru TV and Derana TV in the country today.

  • 12
    1

    No use. Too little too late

    • 18
      2

      Maybe that USA expects Gotha to be the president and they can bully him to fall in line with their thinking.

      • 3
        0

        Not may be, it is the fact.
        :
        See American high commission in SL has not come forward to clear the doubts of the people on the renunciation of Gota’s american citizenship, even if the issue took headlines of the news for the last few months in this island.
        :
        American REPRESENTATIVES to stay mum while the country and nation is left to be doubtful whether or not Gota renounced his american citizenship, is no right .. right ?
        .
        Now the facts say, even if former CITIZEN of the US renounced his or her ctizenship, they are still bound to be their previous promises at the time, they were gotten the citizenship. For example, until 10 year period, they owe to adhere the regulations in that country. Meaning… this is very dangerous if Gota would become the president.

  • 11
    1

    China wants its man in power.
    US worries about this and yet US can not do about it.
    US play politics of wait and see.
    India too.
    It does not matter much for them.
    SL is encircled by all these power.
    what can poor Lankans do except to live at mercy of these power .

  • 6
    21

    Poor Keselwatta Kid,
    After all that hard yards, the Kid now wouldn’t get the chance to beat Nandasena fair and square…
    And show his prowess to Dr Ranil and his mate Ravi Karunanayakka.

  • 11
    2

    [edited out]
    Justice is what we need, not a police state, We don’t need different laws for different individuals, as we see now, Gota coming is America taking over, as he will have to listen to his masters. Sajith is better for all as he is a Sri Lanken. Anura won’t win, and voting for him is a waste of the vote,
    We should not make the same mistakes twice.

  • 0
    0

    Subject to Asking the future

  • 5
    1

    ‘ Being a Daddy’s girl is like having
    A permanent armour for the rest
    Of your life ‘. ( M.Reka)
    They can’t bully you Ahimsa..
    God bless you.

  • 10
    2

    When high profile murders are covered up or remain unsolved, what hope can the poor have on justice for their missing loved ones? GR has clearly stated in public that he wants the past atrocities forgotten in order to expect a rosy future under his leadership. Does he think that we are idiots to believe that the past will have no bearing on the future? Can we expect justice in the future from such a man? Is justice insignificant in the cause of development?

    I can be certain of one thing. If GR comes to power, disappearances will be a way of life, unless we learn to tow the line in his glorious military state.

    • 7
      0

      We are expected to forget their past crimes, and be prepared for the future ones. The blood on the streets will be once again be cleaned up from time to time, and everything will look clean and tidy again.

      We are all expected to have selective amnesia.

  • 5
    1

    The US wants a puppet leader in every country. It does not matter to the US whether this leader is like Rama (a hero) or Ravana (a villain). The main thing is, the puppet should do the bidding of his US masters and act in the national interests of the US, the global bully!

    It is the unpopular strongman (or potential strongman) who is always picked to serve as the puppet. The US maintains a hold on him by promising to keep him in power perpetually by providing strong military, logistical, economic and other kinds of support. If the puppet has dual citizenship in the US and is unable to extricate himself from that, as in this particular case, they simply blackmail the puppet into doing their dirty work.

  • 9
    1

    The courts accepts that citizenship is in dispute. At time the crime was committed he was US a citizen. So naturally US protects its citizens against Anything.

  • 7
    0

    Strange that the US is proposing to UN that our Army under this same Sec of Defence should be accused of war crimes in the course of their duty to protect our country but the Sec is exonerated for a crime not in line of duty. What contradictions.

  • 3
    10

    I cant stop myself LOL for the above comments. Shenal to Jehan. How desperate these poor souls when it comes to “hating Gota”. Their logics, based on myths, are pieces of dissimulation which is roaming in and out of them. CT does a good job as a companion that in line with similar thinking. Giving a stage to put out their boiling thoughts. Keep it up.

    • 17
      1

      Maybe they have got good reasons to “hate” Gota. After all he does not have a stellar record, nor an unblemished history, and people cannot forget that.
      Good reasons.
      No one, not even paid trolls can claim he is an angel. Ask the families of missing, and murdered loved ones, who can prove these stories are no myth, nor pieces of dissimulation. We cannot expect them to “forget” the past, when they have not been answered by those who were responsible for their plight, now can we?

      As for CT at least it is doing what a real democracy should expect a free press is entitled to do. We cannot expect them to do what the government wants them to say, and toe their line now do we?
      We have seen it shut down before and being penalized for criticizing the last regime, which of course will be the norm once again.
      Gota’s side is also known to spread those myths and pieces of dissimulation which roams around too, so let’s be realistic.

  • 1
    13

    I saw a comment somewhere which stated that in this presidential race all other candidates are running on a flat track while Gota is running steeple chase. These buggers are blinded with hatred yet Gota is still on track like those great Kenyan steeple chase runners………….

  • 4
    0

    We have been telling Tamils that governments will look for excuses to save other governments; so the Tamils’ struggle will not be easy one; they have to be determined and keep challenging diplomatically for long time. But few of them explained that Western governments are against Tamils; so no point in seeking justice there. Now the question is, is Ahimsa a Tamil Girl? She is Sinhalese girl and her father a known journalist fought against Lanakwe governments’ corruptions democratically. But American courts found excuses to dismiss her case. This is a lesson for Tamils too and they need to keep the steering straight steady if they want want to seek justice for their fallen loved ones.

  • 1
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

    For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 8
    0

    if gota wins our first lady will be a us citizen so the us will still have some influence here

  • 9
    0

    US Ambassador met MR at his residence just before nominations! Sounds ODD?

    • 2
      0

      Yes. Imagine the wagging tongues had Sajith met with the Ambassador.

  • 7
    0

    So the US Courts have established that any of her citizens could engage in any type of “Crime” anywhere in the world and claim “IMMUNITY “, in that, they (US Citizens) can get away with “Murder”. That is how Gotabaya Rajapkse, in an interview with BBC was bold enough to ask: “Who is Lasantha” and also continued saying: “I will not conduct any investigation into his (Lasantha) killing. As this “Defense” by reason of “Immunity” has been granted on GR by US for one of her citizens, all cases of “Murder” (even culpability) and “Corruption” instituted in Sri Lanka would be set aside. GR’s team of Lawyers, headed by Ali Sabri and Ramesh de Silva must be celebrating another “Victory” over getting the backing of US Courts. AG and Judiciary of Sri Lanka: What are you going to do now?

  • 6
    0

    2500 muslims are in jail on trumped up terrorism charges. why are they not charged if they are terrorist. justice delayed is justice denied.

  • 3
    0

    Until the news item of Ahimsa’s appeal against the decision is published, we in Sri Lanka did not have the benefit of knowing that her application was rejected by the lower court. I do not think that courts of five star democracies are 100% impartial but nevertheless at the end there would be some justice done. Obviously the US is watching what is going on here only to secure its interests here. Although the gruesome murder of Lasantha, is a concern for simpletons like us, it is not so to a big nation where it is aiming to establish its fiat over all the oceans. Like one of the authors cum columnists wrote (perhaps from overseas) US too would be estimating who would win the Presidential Elections. The predictions of US could be the same as that of the author who claimed that Herr Gottler would win the elections with 53% majority. If so, would the US want a case hanging on him and treat him as a fugitive? Clearly then any prospect of getting the agreements through, even a diluted one, is very remote. So Ahimsa or those sponsoring her case would be spending quite a lot of money with what tangible results? As I have commented before I have no hope of a good human rights record for Sri Lanka after the Presidential Elections as there is no potential for any of the major candidates to uphold the dignity of life.

  • 3
    12

    Most of the clowns here are unable to read. They should read the court’s decision. Neither the US nor any other countries court can be holding trials on other countries. This is called sovereignty courts are responsible only for crimes under their purview.

    It was a matter of time this rubbish was thrown out. I am only surprised it took so long.

    Tell Ahiamsa to get lost

    • 11
      1

      “Tell Ahiamsa to get lost”

      Typical Rajapaksa indifference to pain and suffering. That is why those who have lost loved ones are never given justice by those calling themselves good Buddhist.

    • 3
      0

      Gobaya Premawardena – It is manifestly clear that you are the biggest clown in this column. Go drown yourself!

    • 0
      0

      My Dear Abhaya Premawardena
      &
      Mike…….
      /
      They also knew that these cases will be thrown out in due time.
      /
      What they really wanted was to stop GR’s nomination or to delay the duel citizen issue in US state department.

  • 3
    5

    Lasantha was murdered in Sri lanka and not in the US. If the culprit / culprits were caught and proved guilty in the courts then they are liable to be sentenced according to SL law.
    The US has nothing to do with the issue. Ahimsa is making a fool of herself and a mockery of Sri Lanka to the US and the world if not that we are already a set of fools in the eyes of the world.
    Lasantha is long gone and may he rest in peace.
    Sri lankans will never ever learn either the easy way nor the hard way.

    • 4
      0

      Gota was a US citizen at the time these papers were filed. Ahimsa is the grieving daughter who wants justice for the murder of her father.
      She is not making a fool of herself, only those who have no heart or compassion will fault her for that.

      She is seeking justice elsewhere as she is deprived of it at home.

  • 12
    1

    Ahimsa – I feel your pain child. Your dad will be proud of your actions against this brutal animal Gotabaya. The low lives who have posted derogatory comments here have no heart for a grieving child. But there is a God up there and don’t worry his punishment will come soon to these brutes who have brutalized this beautiful nation. If Sajith wins, SF will be Defence Minister. Lets see where Nandesena is going to run and hide. This werewolf has to run on his hind legs into the Wilpattu jungle.

  • 7
    1

    America wants its puppet gota to be SL president. That’s why they bombed sl on easter sunday as well..

  • 1
    11

    I don’t think LW is the hero that people make him out to be. He was slandering many high-ranking people, despite knowing the consequences (even his killer gave multiple warnings). What is interesting is that only the “Sunday Leader” was willing to take this route, while still maintaining full disclosure. Slandering is one thing, but most people will not do it with a gun pointed at their head. They will try to maintain some kind of anonymity, since their ideas are useless if they (writer) are dead. Or, like Julian Assange, ensure they are in a third country. So what was LW’s real motivation, what was the incentive that induced him to keep going? I strongly suspect it was monetary, though I can’t prove it.

  • 2
    10

    My Dear FOOLS,
    Cant you all accept the fact that all cases are thrown away because GR is innocent.
    Don’t you think this is just harassment against a innocent man.
    Don’t you think Ahimsa, Ranil, MY3 and few other fools have tried everything under the sun to stall GR’s nomination.
    Best option now you all have is to go to Alfa Century and file a case there claiming solar system courts are conspiring with GR.
    And when it thrown away you all can cry claiming whole universe is conspiring with Gota….
    Good Luck You Fools……….

    • 3
      2

      S. C. Pasqual

      “Cant you all accept the fact that all cases are thrown away because GR is innocent.”

      It’s alright GR is innocent.
      If not Gota did MR loot VP’s treasury where LTTE had a large stockpile of rupees, dollars, …………….. and Gold?

      • 1
        1

        Un-Native Vedda

        So….?

        You need a loan from MR…?? Go ask him.

        • 2
          1

          S. C. Pasqual

          “You need a loan from MR…?? Go ask him.”

          So I take it you have already got a loan/grant/bribe/………………….. from MR.
          I am happy for you.
          By the way in return what service did/do you perform?

          • 0
            0

            My Dear Un-Native Vedda..

            I don’t need other people’s money.

  • 2
    2

    Liberia had Charles Taylor. Cuba had Batista. Iran had the Shaha. Hey they even had Uncle Osama on the pay roll when they wanted to knock the Russians out of Afghanistan!

    • 0
      3

      Mr. Easy- E

      You ignorant fools….
      George Washington – General
      Andrew Jackson – Major General
      Zachary Taylor – Major General
      Ulysses S. Grant – General
      Theodore Roosevelt – Colonel
      Dwight D. Eisenhower – Four-Star General
      John F. Kennedy –
      Gerald Ford –
      George H.W. Bush –
      My dear 29 out of 45 US presidents from the military
      THAT IS ONLY IN USA…
      Don’t forget French Charles de Gaulle and so many world leaders from military.

      • 3
        1

        S. C. Pasqual

        “My dear 29 out of 45 US presidents from the military THAT IS ONLY IN USA…”

        Is that why Americans never stopped fighting even if there isn’t any threat to their country ?
        Are you suggesting Gota should embark on global military adventure just because the American generals/leaders did precisely that?

        American adventurism didn’t stop there, it also created millions of other things, they along with Russia ventured into new frontiers in science and technology.

        On the other hand the Sinhala/Buddhists have invented a convenient identity to protect them from moral responsibility, justice, …. hiding behind Sinhala/Buddhism a good place to hide for crooks, war criminals, racists, …. beat their breast how they single handedly won the war.

        What have they scientifically achieved apart from importing free rice from moon and killing their own people in hundred of thousands?

        I wish you well if you are determined to race to the bottom.

    • 0
      0

      Easy-E. Weren’t they all one-time best buddies of the Americans/CIA? Just like Osama Bin-Laden, who helped the CIA to create the original Taliban. Now the Kurds are learning the hard way, they thought they could get a fake state by fighting the ISIS for the Americans.

  • 9
    2

    A keen and intelligent ‘Observer’ (not ‘slaves’ and racist/nationalist minded people) will know in one’s own heart that NGR is a veritable CRIMINAL. He is a wolf in a sheep’s clothing. He is a scumbag and lowest of the lowest. His true colours will become evident to the public if he decides to give a few more impromptu interviews without hiding behind scripted statements and teleprompters. His now famous BBC interview was indeed revealing of who this man really is and his true nature. He is suffering from certain psychological complexes which may perhaps stem from his experiences of the past (childhood, growing up). A trained Psychologist may be able to provide a more authoritative determination of his likely issues. But one thing is certain even in the eyes of a layman like me. He is not a fit and proper person to be the head of state. He clearly does not have what it takes to lead a Nation. He is indeed a dangerous human being. His actions and deeds during 2010 to 2014 tell it all (actions speak louder than words). Voter be warned and use your franchise wisely bearing in mind we all yearn for a better future for our mother land.

    Unfortunately, there are a couple of ‘slave’ media Institutions (with vested interests) giving prominence to this ‘maniac’ and the publicity division of the Government is found wanting in this vital area of ‘communication and publicity’ to counter the effects of such unethical actions. It’s to the Government’s credit that they have not sought to place any restrictions on the free media in the country. But the media must have at least some self regulation so ‘law of the jungle’ is not allowed to prevail.

    • 4
      0

      BTW folks, it is reported some Opposition Politicians had the gall and brazenness to make a complaint that Government controlled media (currently coming under the purview of the President) was bias! What hypocrites they are! Wonder if they have forgotten how they conducted themselves no sooner they assumed power under the 52 day fiasco? Have they also forgotten how State run media was manipulated and controlled during the rule of MR the sadist? (all in this Rajapaksa family are cut of the same cloth!) That family is a curse and a cancer to the SL society. What have we SL citizens done to deserve that curse?

      The State run media today is no comparison to what it was under MR the dictator.

  • 4
    0

    “Rajapaska sought to dismiss the case on a number of defenses, including on grounds that he was afforded immunity for actions taken during his tenure as Secretary of Defense”

    He doesnt deny the killing.
    He says he was afforded immunity. i.e he was given blank cheque to kill any one en every one

    • 2
      2

      Rajash

      “He doesnt deny the killing.”

      Are you saying he is at least a honest killer?

  • 3
    0

    US District court has clearly stated that Gotabaya’s US Citizenship has not been resolved and there is an issue.

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