27 June, 2022

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Full Text Of The Leaked Report: War Criminals, Murderers And Fraudsters Exonerated By Nandasena’s Political Victimisation Commission

A leaked copy of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) on political victimization reveals that it has been used to exonerate, white-wash and acquit without charge perpetrators of the most heinous crimes committed in Sri Lanka in the recent past and in many cases reward murderers, abductors, and money launderers with compensation by the state.

The report, first leaked on social media and thoroughly perused by Colombo Telegraph revealed that the Commission unanimously decided that the charges and indictments against every accused in so-called emblematic cases highlighted by the UN, including the murder and abduction of journalists, should be dismissed, the indictments in currently active trials quashed and the complainants acquitted and released.

These cases include the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge, abduction, extortion and murder of 11 Tamil men allegedly by the Sri Lanka Navy, Welikada Prison massacres, the assassination of Tamil MP Joseph Pararajasinham, the assaults on journalists Upali Tennekoon and Keith Noyahr among many others.

Going a step further, the Commission has also recommended tough legal action against “respondents” in the complaints – including police officers, former commanders of the military, members of parliament, former ministers and deputy ministers and prosecutors attached to the Attorney General’s Department. The list of respondents recommended for prosecution also includes former Foreign Secretaries Prasad Kariyawasam and Ravinatha Aryasinha for their roles in the Jaliya Wickremasuriya investigation and president’s counsel J.C. Weliamuna and Upul Jayasuriya for their roles investigating the Navy 11 abduction and extortion racket and the Avant Garde weapons smuggling fiasco respectively.

The Commission has also recommended “compensation” for complainants facing trial for murder, kidnapping and extortion in Sri Lankan High Courts, that includes, inter alia, back pay, promotions, foreign workshops and “popular” school or university enrollment for their children.

The report reveals that the Commission has decided to acquit complainants from the highest-ranking military officers accused of conspiring to murder in the High Court, to sergeants and sailors who ran kidnapping and extortion rackets or abducted and assaulted renowned journalists.

Bar none, every suspect and accused in cases linked to atrocities committed when the Rajapaksa regime was last in power, have been exonerated through “evidence” led before the Commission, but largely based on hearsay and statements by the complainants themselves or witnesses on their behalf.

While investigators and prosecutors were summoned to appear before the Commission, these testimonies have not made an impact on any of the decisions and indeed, do not even get a mention in the report.

The Commission was chaired by the disgraced Supreme Court Judge (rtd) Upali Abeyratne and comprising retired Court of Appeal Judge Chandrasiri Jayathilake and pro-Rajapksa former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Chandra Fernando. The Abeyratne Commission has also acted to exonerate and recommend the acquittal of several Rajapaksa family members and close associates including Rajapaksa cousins Jaliya Wickramasuriya and Udayanga Weeratunge and the gun-runner former army major Nissanka Senadhipathi who owns and operates the controversial Avant Garde Maritime Security firm accused of smuggling Sri Lanka Government issue weapons on the high seas.

Wickramasuriya was facing charges of criminal misappropriation to the tune of USD 300,000 when he was serving as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the US when his first cousin Mahinda Rajapaksa held office as President. Sri Lanka’s own investigation into the same charges was originally led by former Additional Solicitor General Yasantha Kodagoda, now a Justice on the Supreme Court. Ironically, the Commission has recommended charges against Wickramasuriya be dropped in the Sri Lankan courts, and the Sri Lankan Government work to restore his immunity as a diplomat through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and a lifting of the travel ban imposed on the disgraced former diplomat.

Ironically Wickramasuriya was indicted by a Grand Jury in Washington DC over the same controversial financial misappropriation in 2019. The Rajapaksa cousin was indicted in five counts including money laundering, wire transfer fraud and visa fraud. For years Wickamasuriya was a fugitive from justice in Sri Lanka and the United States. The other Rajapaksa cousin, Weeratunga was also a fugitive from justice for several years and the subject of an Interpol Red Notice before being captured and extradited from the United Arab Emirates following a lengthy extradition trial last year.

Alarmingly, the exoneration of perpetrators accused of grave human rights violations by the politically tainted Commission comes at a time when Sri Lanka faces mounting international pressure over its human rights record. Even as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet calls for justice to be served against perpetrators internationally, including at the International Criminal Court, the Presidential Commission on Political Victimisation provides the best evidence for the absolute necessity for international jurisdiction to take effect against those who violate human rights with impunity in Sri Lanka, human rights activists said.

In her report on Sri Lank to the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva wchich will take place in February and March this year, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet made note of the Presidential Commission on Political Vicitimization, saying the Commissioner had “undermined police investigations and court proceedings related to several high profile human rights and corruption cases.”

“While the criminal justice system in Sri Lanka ha