13 December, 2019

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Lasantha’s Daughter Appeals Decision In U.S. Extrajudicial Killing Case Against Gotabaya Rajapaksa

San Francisco, November 13, 2019: Ahimsa Wickrematunge and her legal team filed a notice of appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today, contesting the United States District Court’s decision to grant former Sri Lankan Secretary of Defense Gotabaya Rajapaksa immunity for suit related to the assassination of her father, prominent Sri Lankan journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge.

Lasantha

The United States District Court for the Central District of California 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 erroneously awarded Rajapaksa immunity even though Sri Lanka did not request it, and incorrectly found that Rajapaksa’s actions were committed within his official capacity as Sri Lanka’s secretary of defense, despite the fact that Lasantha’s assassination was neither authorized nor ratified by the Sri Lankan government.

The District 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.

“In his final letter, my father reminded us that he had a ‘calling that is yet above high office, fame, lucre and security. It is the call of conscience.’ He shared that he hoped that his ‘assassination will be seen not as a defeat of freedom but an inspiration for those who survive to step up their efforts.’ I continue my fight in the courts in honor of my father’s call of conscience to ensure that Rajapaksa faces accountability for his role in the assassination of my father and to prevent any government official from evading justice by arguing that ordering assassinations of journalists could ever be part of their official duties,” 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 case should 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

For more information on the case, visit at the FAQ page in English, Sinhala, and Tamil.

About the Center for Justice and Accountability

The Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) is a San Francisco-based human rights legal organization dedicated to deterring torture, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious human rights abuses around the world through innovative litigation, policy and transitional justice strategies. CJA partners with victims and survivors in pursuit of truth, justice, and redress, and has successfully brought cases against a former Minister of Defense of Somalia’s Siad Barre regime, the military officer responsible for the assassination of Chilean activist and singer Victor Jara, and Syria’s Assad regime for its targeted killing of war correspondent Marie Colvin. Visit www.cja.org.

About Debevoise & Plimpton

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a premier law firm with market-leading practices, a global perspective and strong New York roots. Debevoise delivers effective solutions to its clients’ most important legal challenges, applying clear commercial judgment and a distinctively collaborative approach. Debevoise’s globally recognized team of International Dispute Resolution lawyers has extensive experience advising and litigating in relation to all aspects of public international law.

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Latest comments

  • 19
    7

    This may be one reason this alleged criminal decided to run for the Presidency. That is to avoid all litigations against him. He has thus far contrived and pursued all possible avenues and reasons to avoid confronting the Courts to clear his name. If he is innocent, the best course of action would have been to boldly face the courts and prove his innocence. Avoidance says something about his guilt or otherwise?

    This psychopath (honestly he must be mentally deranged, unbalanced and demented) is totally unsuitable to lead our Nation. Additionally, the last thing a heart patient needs is stress and strain in one’s life if one is concerned about one’s health.

    Voters, please use your franchise wisely, judiciously, aptly and appropriately

  • 9
    17

    Commenting as someone without vested interest on the case or the matter in general, the reasons for the American judges’ decision clearly doesn’t leave room for an appeal, and this is going to be a waste of time and money.
    /
    Ahimsa lives in Australia and it took so many years (until Gota’s presidential election nomination) before the case was filed. On top of everything, Gota’s capacity at the time of the incident, was that of a public servant and not a commander of the forces. It was Sarath Fonseka who was commanding the forces. Is she barking up the wrong tree?
    /
    Wonder whose legal advice this girl is acting!

    • 10
      5

      Lex Regal

      “Wonder whose legal advice this girl is acting!”

      Definitely not on the legal advice of eminent lawyers Namal Baby, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Wijedasa Rajapaksa, …………………..

      Does it matter who advises “this girl”?

      • 1
        1

        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

        • 4
          4

          Lex Regal

          Brilliant
          Keep up your good work.

    • 6
      4

      Lex Beagle
      We all know the truth, Sarath Fonseka was not accused of a Mig deal.
      Sarath Fonseks had no motive.
      Besides the murder of Lasantha Wickramatunga was not a military operation.
      It was a special hit done by the Tripoli company that was a clandestine murder squad commanded directly by Gota as the secretary of defense.
      You choose not to know.
      What kind of legal idiot are you? Trying to justify a crime in cold blood.
      Are you on drugs.🤣🤣🤣🤣

    • 6
      0

      “Wonder whose legal advice this girl is acting!”
      Not Ali Sabry’s or G.L.Peris’es for sure.

    • 3
      2

      Sex Regal – “Wonder whose legal advice this girl is acting!”. Jackass, it definitely cannot be Namal Rajafucksha, synthetic “lowyer” and Mongol son of Tsunami Hora or Aliya Saber, another “gedera yana gaman” lawyer and Rajafucksha Mafia ass licker!

    • 0
      0

      Agree with you 100%!

  • 4
    9

    Nandasena will have to send Ali Sabry to get out of this..

    BTW, I thought the current PM of Lankawe has already put on record in the Hansard that it is non other than the currently nominated Defense Minister of the next all UNP Government who ordered the” Hit”.

    May be Ali will have to take a Copy of the Hansard with him to San Fransisco..

    • 5
      4

      KASmaalam K.A. Sumanasekera

      “May be Ali will have to take a Copy of the Hansard with him to San Fransisco..”

      Maybe Ali should take all three to USA.

      • 5
        3

        KASmaalam K.A. Sumanasekera

        “Nandasena will have to send Ali Sabry to get out of this..”

        Isn’t it ironic, Nandasena hasn’t got a Sir Pon Ramanathan to save his a**e from the gas chamber of his mother country the USA?

        • 4
          1

          Native
          You ask me to go easy on KAS sewer rat because he is harmless.
          Yes, he maybe harmless!
          But he is thick headed as a mule.
          He doesn’t make any sense nor does he learn.
          He keeps repeating his hysteria like a broken record.
          Poor bastard, I am sure his traumatic past must be haunting him.
          This guy needs an exorcist I think. What the English teaching Buddhist priest pumped through his arse must be stuck in his brain.

        • 1
          1

          Dear Native,

          My Elders tell me Sir Ponnambalam Ramnathan was a great guy.
          He apparently never asked for a separate Eelaam for you.-

          Different Era , Different time I guess , when all the Rich and , Powerful Anglican Sinhalese and Tamils were a one big happy Family.

          Just imagine if Sir Ponna was under Pira ,
          It would have been a different story.. Don’t you think , Native?.

          I thought they put you on an Electric Chair or give you a Needle..
          Where did you get this Gas Chamber Idea?.
          Do you hate Nandasena so much?..

          • 1
            1

            KASmaalam K.A. Sumanasekera

            “He apparently never asked for a separate Eelaam for you”

            Will you convey this information to one of your recent Mango friend the war monger and war crime denier Dayan who once wrote even Ponnambalam Ramnathan demanded Separate state in one of his writings in the 1920s. In his published writings he never entertained the idea of Separate state.

            He was for free education while D Senanayake opposed it.

            By the way I too never asked for Eelam however I would appreciate all those descendants of Kallthonies left my ancestral land. You too KASmaalam.

            “I thought they put you on an Electric Chair or give you a Needle..
            Where did you get this Gas Chamber Idea?.”

            The gas chamber is an alternative method of execution in seven states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.
            https://eu.tennessean.com/
            What methods of execution are still in practiced in the United States?
            Dustin Barnes Nashville Tennessean
            Published 5:37 PM EDT Aug 15, 2019

            “Do you hate Nandasena so much?”

            I hate no one.
            I was taught to hate no one.
            I am very often reminded to hate no one.

            However I can’t sit idly by while injustice is being inflicted on weaker section of the society. I have no vested interest in supporting a particular political party nor a politician.

            What do you expect in return for your relentless support to the National Hangman if he wins? Where do you think Bandula want his next diplomatic posting to be?

    • 4
      0

      Do you believe everything that the bloody Sri Lankan politicians utter or write?
      They can say anything to achieve any ulterior motive!
      So no point citing this and that…

  • 5
    0

    “Who is Lasantha? Aren’t there many more in the world to talk of” by Gotabahya Rajapakse .(Of course, there are “MANY MORE”.) One “DAY” and in the last ” HOUR/MINUTE/SECONDS” this would “REVAMP” and “HAUNT” the man who said the above. That is the LAW of the NATURE – the MOTHER of all laws. Please note, there is nothing called “IMMUNITY” in that “Supreme Law”. Hope the “MAHA SANGA” – the “MENTORS” of GR would keep GR reminded of that “UNIVERSAL LAW” which is in their dictates is “DAHARMA”.

    • 3
      3

      Douglas yes… who is Prabharakaran, who is Pottu Amman, who is Tamil Selvan, who is Issai Priya, who is Balachandran, who is Dwaraka, who is Charles Anthony… luckily Karuna Amman changed sides just in time, he did not wind up on the list of who’s who.

  • 5
    6

    She clearly is politcalicing her father’s death.
    This is technically election morning.
    She had all the time in the world to take legal action while GR was a US citizen.
    Having said that this thing has nothing to do with US.
    What she wanted earlier was to try and delay GR citizenship issue.
    What she wants now is to keep the issue alive on the election day.

    • 2
      2

      S.C Pasqual, I hope someone whacks you one of these days and see how things pan out for your family, you nasty hoodrat!!!

    • 2
      2

      Pasqual, It is all about Timing..

    • 1
      3

      S. C. Pasqual

      “She clearly is politcalicing her father’s death.”

      Is she?
      Her father was key political commentator.
      He was assassinated in broad daylight.
      The investigation of his assassination was stalled for political reasons.
      He mother left the country in a hurry fearing for her life.
      Though the successive government had many evidences and breakthrough if pursued the police could have brought this case to a closure however it had its own reasons not to pursue the case, it was a political decision.

      Now you silly smartass patriot telling the world of CT this girl is politicising her father’s death. What a moron you are.

  • 6
    4

    After I left this country many decades ago and the total decimation of the LTTE, I thought this beautiful country will elect a statesman……………….no, today I have my doubts anything good will come out of this election. If this murderous racist monster is elected, folks forget democracy. This will become family rule by these Hambantota village gamarala buffoons. I feel sad for the well meaning people of this country.

    • 1
      6

      You are the biggest Racist to generalize and call all Villagers as Gamarala Buffoons.

      What if we called you PD? Do you know what that stands for? Will you like that?

      • 3
        3

        Ado army toilet cleaner Retarded Late Reginald Shemale Perehera, only in Sri Lanka you could call me a Para Demala and live to see the next day, that is because you have a gun and you are the majority, but in your case a toilet cleaning brush. But if you ever called me that in Canada or any other country, you coolie will not have any teeth after that. Try it bugger, come to Canada and pick any Tamil and try it and see what happens! Times have changed you little sh&t, your pranks will not even move an inch.

    • 4
      4

      Tamil from the North,

      Please don’t be sad . Mate.

      Those well meaaning people in fact have done very well..
      No wonder you have no idea because you haven’t been there for 30 years , did you say…

      Mate, you must see the Glittering Shopping Malls , International Restaurants, Fancy Cocktail Bars and they even have , Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and even Octoberfest in Pitakotuwa,

      But there is another side sorry, another lot too, Mate.
      That is why those well meaning people put Keselwatta Kid to the fore this time instead of Dr Ranil.

      Now Keselwatta Kid is going full bore to give it them too..
      Dud you read the Kid’s Election Manifesto?..

      Once it is all implemented by Dr Ranil after the 17th , both sides will be happy as Larry.
      May be you can pay a visit then..
      My mate, told me Candian Air gives cheap fares too.

      • 3
        3

        Idiot KA Sumanaya, I have recently visited Sri Lanka and there are no glittering malls anywhere. Nothing has changed, the same old droopy Majestic City and Liberty plaza are the only malls you have donkey. Gota/MR/Basil have sold the country to the Chinese in ten fold. One thing I have to give is the food in Sri Lanka…………..no country in the world can beat that. Air Canada is a joke. I flew Sri Lankan and it is so under rated and the crew on-board were one of the best I have ever seen. But the bloody Rajapaksas have ruined that too. Yes, I have seen Sajith’s manifesto. At least Sajith does not have innocent blood in his hands and he has not stolen money like the dirty Rajapaksa monsters.

        While this beautiful country burns, you sit there and talk like a kid………….grow up you foolish fellow.

        • 0
          0

          idiot yes there are no glittering malls in kilinochichi thanks to your sun god, but colombo is doing pretty good .

          The Dirty Rajapaksas as you say are still loved by the masses and they really never stole anything . As not a thing has been proved.

          So stay in Canada crying Genocite all day

  • 3
    0

    S.C.Pasqual: Re. your comment. Try to look at this way. A child has lost her father. How? Not by “Natural Means”; but most “BRUTALLY” and in “INHUMAN” manner “MURDERED”. If you too, lose you father that way, how you feel? Do you know that this case was going on for long, long years (investigations, arrests, etc.) without any results, excepting that it was established a “Murder”. A father, to a child is the “TREASURE” and if someone takes him away, in that “RUTHLESS” manner, will you expect that child to remain or live with it for ever, without knowing “What Happened” and “WHO” did it. Did you listen to that BBC interview “GR” gave? I suppose you “DID NOT”. GR said: “I will not investigate”. When that “MAN” who thought and still think “NO END” try to become the President of the country, what would be the reaction of this child who still waits for answers. Put yourself in her “SHOES” and think “What would you do”? I don’t blame her for “Preventing” this man “GR” becoming the President. I am glad, she is doing it with all the patience and available legal means. In most cases of this nature, that is not the way those “SCORES” are settled. This comment is only to make you more “EMPATHETIC”. Thank you.

  • 1
    0

    It has been abundantly clear over the decades that the judicial system in Sri Lanka is very much influenced by political interference and sometimes to the extent of a mere rubber stamp of executive decisions, as has the legislature from time to time. In such context, justice will never be properly served to innocent victims of political revenge as both major political parties are in cahoots with each other in protecting criminals and helping each other evade the law. The US, with its eyes on strategic leverage within the SL political leadership also has a stake in this game.

    • 0
      0

      Ahimsa, unfortunately God is also on long service leave. But don’t give up

  • 1
    0

    At the end Sinhalese are united. There are always few Sinhalese who give their a@#$ to west.

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