The Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa Government continues to turn justice on its head, moving Parliament to directly interfere in matters before the judiciary after efforts to convince the Attorney General to drop the cases have proved futile.
Last Friday under the cover of the Avurudu holiday season Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa tabled a resolution in Parliament that seeks legislative approval to end trials against several family members indicted for corruption and military officials accused of murder and abduction.
JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake revealed the contents of the Resolution of Parliament at a press briefing on Monday (12).
The Resolution tabled by the Prime Minister sought to end trials currently underway in the courts against former Navy Chief Wasantha Karannagoda and other high ranking naval officers who have been indicted for conspiracy to abduct and murder 11 Tamil youth in 2008-2009 by a mercenary navy racketeers, Nissanka Senadhipathi, the chairman of Avant Garde, indicted for gun-running, and Udaya Gammanpila who was indicted for fraud. The resolution also seeks to end trial proceedings against Basil Rajapaksa for money laundering in connection to a villa he owned in Malwana.
The Resolution tabled by Premier Rajapaksa also seeks parliamentary approval to end judicial proceedings against:
1. Ex-Ambassador to Russia, Udyanga Weeratunga (MiG deal) – Rajapaksa Cousin
2. Ex-Ambassador to the US, Jaliya Wickramasuriya (Money Laundering) – Rajapaksa Cousin
3. Current Chief of Staff to PM, Yoshitha Rajapaksa (CSN Network/Money Laundering) – PM’s son
4. Suspects in the assassination of Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge
5. Suspects in the abduction and torture of journalist Keith Noyahr
Colombo Telegraph learns that these were all cases the Government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was having trouble leaning on the Attorney General’s Department to drop.
According to Dissanayake, the PM’s resolution of Parliament recommends prosecuting judges for hearing the cases and filing legal action against lawyers at the AG’s Department for filing the indictments. The Resolution also recommends the prosecution of CID officers and investigators at the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption (CIABOC) for conducting investigations into the crimes, Dissanayake said.
He added that the resolution – which clearly draws from the recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on political victimization – recommends the prosecution of complainants in the cases.
The JVP Leader pointed out that even SLPP MP Udaya Gammanpila, whose fraud case is on the list of trials to be dismissed by the resolution of Parliament, will vote in support of the Government’s latest move.
“In what universe,” Dissanayake asked, “does the accused in a crime have the privilege of raising his hand and voting in favour of a resolution that will see to it that his own criminal case will be dismissed? So, he becomes the judge in his own case?”
“The 6.9 million people who voted for this Government and gave it a two thirds majority in Parliament should think about whether they intended for this regime to use their parliamentary super majority to get their crooked cronies, murderers and criminals out of jail,” Dissanayake charged during the press briefing.
During a recent “conversation” with the village in Walpane, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa admitted that his Government was in the process of finding ways to end judicial proceedings of military officials and others accused of human rights abuses and other crimes. The President called the charges – some of them indictments filed by the Attorney General of Sri Lanka – “absurd”.
Significantly, several of the cases the Government has singled out for dismissal of judicial proceedings involves human rights crimes that the United Nations has referred to as “emblematic” cases. These include the attacks on journalists and the Navy abductions trial. As it battled against the UN Human Rights Council Resolution on Sri Lanka last month, foreign minister Dinesh Gunewardena pledged that the Government was committed to pursuing justice domestically in these cases, making the argument that the President had appointed a presidential commission to study previous commission findings on human rights abuses.(By Janakie Mediwake)
See video of Anura Kumara Dissanayake’s press briefing below: