Major General Jagath Alwis, Secretary to the Ministry of Public Security slammed the judiciary in a high-handed letter addressed to Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, accusing lower court judges of being responsible for the violence that unfolded in Sri Lanka, after SLPP led mobs attacked peaceful protestors at Galle Face on 9 May.
Colombo Telegraph exclusively learns that Major General Alwis directed his complaint to the Chief Justice, in a warning to the Supreme Court that the judiciary will be held responsible for the unrest and damage to property, for failing to grant court orders sought by the police to stop the #GotaGoHome protests in districts throughout the country.
The letter from a bureaucrat, addressing the Chief Justice and blaming judges for the unrest springing from unprovoked attacks on peaceful protestors by ruling party mobs was a clear contempt of court. An enraged Chief Justice Jayasuriya immediately forwarded the letter to Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam, instructing the AG to file contempt charges against Major General Alwis immediately.
However Colombo Telegraph learns that AG Rajaratnam tipped Maj. Gen. Alwis off to the Chief Justice’s orders to bring contempt charges against the military officer. Rajaratnam summoned Alwis to his chambers, and drafted a letter that was signed by Major General Alwis withdrawing his original missive, begging the pardon of the Chief Justice and pleading for clemency from the court. Armed with the letter, Secretary Alwis was packed off by the AG to meet with Chief Justice Jayasuriya and plead forgiveness in person.
Supreme Court Justices were stunned by the Attorney General’s disregard of their wishes and prompt cover up of a flagrant attempt by the executive to terrorize the judiciary into stifling public protest. Rather than investigating and prosecuting the suspect as advised by the highest court in the land, Rajaratnam instead colluded with the suspect against the victims to shield Alwis from prosecution.
During Alwis’ tenure as Chief of National Intelligence, judges perceived to be too independent found their chambers and official vehicles wiretapped by the intelligence services, as exclusively reported by Colombo Telegraph.
It is not the first time that AG Rajaratnam has abused his official powers to protect dangerous military officers from criminal prosecution.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s attorney general has been at the forefront of protecting military officials aligned with the regime. There was outrage a few months ago when Rajaratnam arbitrarily decided to drop the indictment against former Navy Chief Wasantha Karannagoda who was on trial at the High Court for conspiracy and murder in connection to the 11 young men abducted for ransom and murdered by Sri Lanka Navy officials in 2008-2009. The new Attorney General has also permitted the high profile trial against accused military intelligence officials in the abduction of journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda to be conducted before a trial-at-bar chaired by High Court judge Daminda Totawatte who was a former Judge Advocate of the Sri Lanka Army and continues to enjoy military escort and security.
Repeated attempts by police divisions in different districts to obtain court orders to stop demonstrations and protests against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa were shot down by Magistrates across the country. Alwis’ letter attempted to hold the judges responsible for the 9 May violence, and threatened consequences against members of the judiciary for their part in the violence and destruction.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed Jagath Alwis, a former Chief of National Intelligence, as the top bureaucrat at the ministry of Public Security, led by Minister Sarath Weerasekera, a former navy official, in an example of his systematic militarization of every aspect of public life.
Alwis is a Gajaba Regiment veteran like President Rajapaksa and was believed to have been present during the Welikada prison massacre in 2012, in which 27 inmates were executed in cold blood. Alwis has also been implicated for playing a lead role in the White Van terror from 2006-2014, which reportedly earned him the nickname, “father of the white vans”.