Supreme Court Justice Buwaneka Aluwihare who headed the bench that postponed Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s corruption trial by two months yesterday (25) ensuring the proceedings will be taken up again only in the throes of a presidential election, was handpicked for legal work by the former Defence Secretary when he was a prosecutor at the Attorney General’s Department.
Questions are also being raised about how Justice Aluwihare decided that he could hear Rajapaksa’s appeal against the dismissal of a writ in the Court of Appeal when he was the first SC judge to recuse himself in the Fundamental Rights case filed by the former Defence Secretary seeking to prevent his arrest in the FCID investigation into the MiG deal.
But on Thursday Aluwihare also made a bench order preventing Rajapaksa’s trial where he is standing as the first accused from proceeding until October 1. The decision has stunned legal observers. The move was like former SC Justice Eva Wanasundera granting interim relief in Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s fundamental rights petition in the MiG case, before later recusing herself from hearing the matter, legal sources told Colombo Telegraph.
“If he cannot hear one matter concerning the same petitioner four years ago, how come he can hear a new one now?” the source questioned.
Investigations conducted by Colombo Telegraph has found that during his tenure as Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa made an unique arrangement for Aluvihare to work directly under his purview on terrorism financing issues.
Then Deputy Solicitor General Aluwihare whose work for the Defence Secretary allowed him to bypass the Attorney General and the Department, a privilege no state prosecutor had ever got before or since.
As DSG in 2011, Aluwihare was also the lead prosecutor in the white flag case against former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka, against whom the Rajapaksa administration conducted a carefully orchestrated witch-hunt. Controversial high court judge, Deepali Wijesundera now a justice of the Court of Appeal who was nominated as its president before the Constitutional Council vetoed her name three times, ruled against Fonseka in the case.
In 2013 still as DSG Aluwihare was also a member of the Sri Lankan Delegation to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, where the Rajapaksa regime had to be staunchly defended against growing international concern about its human rights record and war crimes committed during the final phase of the war.