Colombo Telegraph

Election Night Coup: Why Was De Facto CJ Pieris At Temple Trees On Election Night?

Multiple reports are now confirming that de facto Chief Justice Mohan Pieris was at Temple Trees with President Mahinda Rajapaksa on election night last week.

Addressing a press conference on Saturday at which the attempted coup plan by the Rajapaksa administration was first revealed Rajitha Senaratne slammed the CJ for his partisan behaviour.

De facto CJ Mohan Pieris

“What on earth was CJ Mohan Pieris doing there? Was there some kind of case he was hearing?” Senaratne asked at a press briefing with the military spokesman and JHU Chairman Athuraliye Rathana.

Mohan Pieris who has made no secret of his slavish loyalty to the Rajapaksa family during his two year stint in office was front and centre of the attempted coup on election night, Colombo Telegraph can now reveal.

Pieris together with another senior minister had been on the frontlines of trying to convince President Rajapaksa that he could remain in office by declaring a state of emergency.

It was on this basis that consultation was sought by the Attorney General whether it would be possible to declare emergency without gazetting the regulations first.

Mohan Pieris’ argument buttressed by another senior minister with knowledge of the law, was that if President Rajapaksa declared a state of emergency that would empower him to anull the election results on grounds of national security.

The military would then move into the main counting centres in the country and stop the count, preventing Sirisena from winning the presidency.

However the plan came a-cropper when the AG refused to comply and warned of serious repercussions if an attempt was made to retain power after defeat at the election.

IGP N K Illangakoon also was refusing to take part in the attempt to thwart the electoral process, calling a hasty press conference at 9:30 PM on election night to assure the public that the police would remain independent and safefguard the integrity of the election.

Meanwhile Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya who was also tipped off on the plans sent STF reinforcements to D.S. Senanayake College, one of the main counting centres in the city.

The first indication that something was being planned was when news broke that President Rajapaksa had visited Defence Secretary Gotabaya at his residence at Bauddhaloka Mawatha at 9 PM on election night.

UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe who arrived at Temple Trees at dawn on Friday for transition talks with Rajapaksa was stunned to find CJ Pieris in the building. Wickremesinghe had asked the CJ what he was doing at Temple Trees and Pieris had said he had arrived to give a legal opinion and rushed out.

On a night as sensitive as an election, there was no legal grounds for CJ Pieris to be at the home of a presidential candidate, lawyers argued. It was a blatant display of his partisanship, which had been a major accusation against him throughout his two year stint at the top of the judiciary.

By being with President Rajapaksa as he watched the election results come in Peiris had cemented his place as the most biased and political CJ in the history of the country, outdoing even Chief Justice Sarath Silva.

Furthermore his role in trying to encourage a coup d’etat was not only enough to have him impeached but also arrested if investigations proved his culpability, legal sources said.

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