Lawyers for Gotabaya Rajapaksa are desperately scrambling to put doubts about his US citizenship to rest and making things exceedingly worse for the SLPP candidate who thought this chapter of his presidential bid was far behind him by early October.
At a press conference on Sunday Ali Sabry PC who is the head of Rajapaksa’s legal team said that the SLPP candidate did not need to show his documentation to the public, but that his renunciation documentation had been handed over to the Elections Commission.
However on Monday, Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said the Commission was never provided copies with Rajapaksa’s nomination papers.
In his rush to counter a statement by Deshapriya, Ali Sabry posted an affidavit purportedly provided by Gotabaya Rajapaksa to the Elections Commission on his official Facebook page setting out his citizenship status.
The image Sabry posted featured only the signature of the Justice of the Peace who had signed the affidavit – a G.K.A.P.K Kularatne from Maharagama. In the first document filed by Ali Sabry PC, the cage for the signature of the person declaring the affidavit was empty.
Realising his error few minutes later, Gotabaya’s lawyer deleted the first image and uploaded a second.
The second contained the exact same signature of Attorney Kularatne, with the signature crossing his seal in the same precise way, except the second image included Rajapaksa’s signature and a Rs 50 stamp.
The President’s Counsel who has lately performed the role of attack dog for the SLPP candidate and his main canvasser of Muslim votes, has created more documentation problems for his boss, with social media already explosively discussing Rajapaksa’s citizenship status and allegedly fraudulent documentation being released by Sabry and other lawyers trying to defend the position.
Sabry’s first image makes it clear that the JP had signed the affidavit before the affirmant. An affidavit is not valid unless the affirmant has signed the affidavit in the presence of the JP. In this case, as with all documentation matters pertaining to the former Defence Secretary, the signature of the JP has been placed on the affidavit prior to Rajapaksa having signed the declaration.
This would make the affidavit null and void, lawyers explained. Furthermore, Sabry’s revelations with the two documents posted online could amount to a serious breach of the law by the unwitting attorney who placed his signature on the document before Rajapaksa signed it. Legal experts said that certifying an affidavit before an affirmant has signed it is not only bad in law, but also ex facie fraudulent.
The latest gaffe comes amid a furore over Rajapaksa’s allegedly cancelled US passport, which is being widely questioned for authenticity online.(By TB Bambaradeniya )