Attorney General Dappula De Livera is picking and choosing which cases he wants his department to prosecute quickly and which ones he wants to slow down Colombo Telegraph learns, with almost all those he is looking to actively sabotage appearing to involve members of the Rajapaksa family or officials in the former regime.
Last week the Attorney General’s Department informed the Supreme Court that it expected to amend indictments filed against Gotabaya Rajapaksa and six others in the D.A Rajapaksa Museum trial, where the former defence secretary is accused of having stolen Rs 89 million in state funds to build a museum and memorial for his late parents in his ancestral village in Hambantota. In 2016, when the FCID began investigations into the funds misappropriated from the Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Board, the Rajapaksa Foundation returned part of the money, claiming it had only been “borrowed”.
The AG’s highly suspect undertaking was made when an appeal lodged by Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s lawyers was taken up at the Supreme Court. Rajapaksa’s lawyers were appealing against the indictment filed against their client on the basis that it had been incorrectly filed.
The Supreme Court did not order the Attorney General to provide such an undertaking, but the AG’s Department represented in court by ASG Prasanna Nawanna, offered the concession anyway.
The attempts to refile indictments against Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Co could put the already much delayed trial back by months.
Indictments were served against Rajapaksa and six other accused in September 2018. Nearly a year later, the trial – set to take place at the Permanent High Court at Bar, specifically designed to expedite corruption cases – has not got off the ground. The case has been subject to endless delays manipulated by Gotabaya Rajapaks’s lawyers, who have filed at least four different motions seeking to stay the trial, including a most recent six week delay on the basis that the former defence secretary needed to recuperate after cardiac treatment in Singapore. Rajapaksa is yet to return to Sri Lanka since leaving for Singapore in May 2019 for medical treatment.
Dappula De Livera is also pressuring the CID to expedite the hand over of files relating to crucial cases in which investigations are still ongoing, in an apparent bid to rush indictments. Meanwhile the Department is yet to file indictments on dozens of completed investigations including the Ratupaswela shootings, the murder of FTZ worker Roshen Chanaka, the Sajin Vass Gunewardena case, the Welikada prison massacre and scores of others.
Given the AG’s current trajectory, there are serious concerns in the legal sector that De Livera’s aim is to sabotage important criminal investigations into atrocities committed during the tenure of the Rajapaksa regime, in order to ensure the charges do not hold up in a court of law, allowing perpetrators to get off.