By Colombo Telegraph –
A mere four months after Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa abused former Editor in Chief Frederica Jansz in obscene language the newspaper ran an apology to the bad tempered and foul mouthed Secretary who is also brother to President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The Sunday Leader on November 18, published the following:
We publish this apology with reference to the article published on Sunday 8th July 2012 under the caption ‘Gota Goes Berserk’.
This article suggests that SriLankan Airlines had made arrangements to switch aircraft to carry a puppy dog from Zurich to Colombo at the behest of Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa Secretary of Defense.
We unconditionally accept that such an inference will not survive scrutiny of the facts as presented before the Sri Lanka Press Council.
It has now been established that no such animal was carried by SriLankan Airlines from any point in its network to Colombo consigned to either Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa or to any member of his family. Hence the contents of the article were essentially both conjecture and hypothetical and not based on fact.
We unreservedly accept the assertion by Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, at that point in time when he responded to our story that neither the Department of Civil Aviation nor SriLankan Airlines was within the purview of the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development. We also unreservedly accept that he as Secretary of the Ministry cannot be held responsible for any actions taken or alleged to have been taken by Sri Lankan Airlines as impugned in the article under reference.
We apologize to Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa Secretary Ministry of Defense and Urban Development and to our readers for any misapprehensions caused in their minds as a result of that publication. We publish this apology to remove any lingering doubts in their minds as to any distortions, untruths and improprieties that the said article may have caused.”
The apology was carried after the newspaper was taken over by a government stooge in September this year.
Appalled with the trend The Sunday Leader has taken a close family member of the Wickrematunge family confided to Colombo Telegraph that Lasantha Wickrematunge “must be turning in his grave.”
Requesting anonymity the family member pointed out that it is Gotabaya Rajapaksa who was suing The Sunday Leader and Lasantha for 2 billion rupees. The cases were filed three months before Lasantha was murdered. Inside sources told Colombo Telegraph that Lasantha had been preparing to counter sue the Defense Secretary but was assassinated before he could do so.
In July this year, Frederica Jansz authored an article which was published in The Sunday Leader on Sunday the 8th. She reported that Defense Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa went berserk when contacted by The Sunday Leader to clarify and find out if he was aware that the management at SriLankan Airlines had taken a decision to change a wide bodied A340 scheduled to fly to Zurich on Friday July 13, to a smaller A330. The change was to be made so that a SriLankan airline pilot who is dating a niece of President Mahinda Rajapaksa could personally fly the aircraft that would carry a ‘puppy dog’ for Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa from Zurich.
‘The Sunday Leader’ had been told by senior airline pilots that 56 passengers would have had to be off loaded if the aircraft was changed.
When asked, Gothabaya Rajapaksa while denying that he had any knowledge that CEO Kapila Chandrasena had ordered the change of aircraft from an A340 to an A330 as Capt. Wijeysinghe was not qualified to fly the bigger aircraft, admitted that Capt. Wijeysinghe would indeed be “passengering” on one sector so he could bring down the dog for his wife.
“Yes they are bringing a puppy – it is for my wife. There is nothing wrong with that. I have every right to bring not just a dog but an elephant on SriLankan if I so wish – I am paying for the cargo. I have every right to bring anything I want. This is not the first time – before this also they brought a dog for me…what is wrong – I am paying for the cargo I have every right.”
When pointed out that bringing the dog was not the issue – but a loss of revenue for the airline as an entire aircraft was to be replaced with a smaller bodied plane – resulting in the loss of 56 passengers, Rajapaksa turned abusive.
Using foul language he screamed at Jansz, “If you write one bloody word I will sue the writer and your newspaper – which I have already done – I am not afraid of the bloody courts – I will sue you and shut down your fucking newspaper.”
Rajapaksa never denied the contents of this article nor having had used foul language on Frederica. He went so far as to even tell her that ninety percent of the people in Sri Lanka would want to see her dead. “They hate you” he shrieked in a conversation with her that has since received worldwide condemnation.
The apology published in The Sunday Leader of November 18, carried a denial going so far as to even deny the fact that Rajapaksa was indeed attempting to fly down a puppy dog from Zurich. Following the publication of the story in The Sunday Leader of July 8th, SriLankan Airlines too never denied that a plane switch had indeed been planned in order to accommodate a pilot friend of Rajapaksa and that 56 passengers would have had to be off loaded as a result.
The conversation with Gotabaya Rajapaksa
When contacted to find out if he was aware, if indeed a aircraft scheduled to fly to Zurich was to be changed to accommodate a personal friend and pilot who had offered to ensure the safe passage of a puppy dog for him Gotabaya Rajapaksa turned abusive and screamed at this journalist in two subsequent telephone conversations in raw filth.
On Thursday July 5, excerpts of the first telephone conversation:
FJ: Mr. Rajapaksa I do not know if you are aware but we have been told that a Sri Lankan Airlines flight is to fly to Zurich next Friday to bring down a puppy dog for you?
GR: So what is wrong with that? It is a regular flight – Yes they are bringing a puppy – it is for my wife. There is nothing wrong with that. I have every right to bring not just a dog but an elephant if I so wish – I am paying for the cargo. I have every right to bring anything I want. This is not the first time – before this also they brought a dog for me…what is wrong – I am paying for the cargo I have every right.
FJ: Absolutely. But that is not the issue. We were told that Capt. Praveen Wijeysinghe has personally offered to fly to Zurich to bring this dog for you?
GR: Yes. So what? He is my friend – I have friends at Sri Lankan former Air Force officers who will do me favours – What is wrong with that?
FJ: But this pilot is not qualified to fly the A340 – and so initially SriLankan were pressured to change the aircraft to an A330 in order to accommodate him…
GR: No aircraft was changed…
FJ: That decision was riveted only after the President of the Pilots Guild objected …
GR: Nobody objected! If you write any bloody thing about this I will sue you! I am not afraid of the bloody courts! I have already sued you I will sue you again! That is my right!
FJ: Yes. But it is also my right as a journalist to ask you for your side of the story or clarify this story with you since it involves you.
GR: You go ask Sri Lankan Airlines!!
FJ: We already have. However the issue is this. Any pilot can bring down a dog – it is all about controlling and ensuring the correct air pressure in the cabin. Why should Capt. Praveen Wijeysinghe be chosen despite him not being able to fly the aircraft on one sector and having to passenger as aresult…
GR: So what? Yes he is passengering so what is wrong with that? I am telling you again if you write any bloody word about this I will sue your f…..g newspaper – this is the way you all wrote about the MIG deal – without checking you bloody wrote your f……g version all because somebody told you something…
FJ: Which is why I have called you. I am not going by what “somebody” told me. I called you to get your side of the story and to clarify this issue.
GR: You write one bloody word and I will sue you!!! I will sue the writer and your f…..g paper again!!
FJ: Mr. Rajapaksa are you threatening me?
GR: Yes! I am threatening you! Write every single word I have told you if you want – you write a bloody f…..g word and we will see
FJ: Mr. Rajapaksa I called you as a journalist to inform you of what was happening and get your version but all you have done is abuse me in raw filth…
He hung up.
On Thursday July 5, I again telephoned Mr. Rajapaksa after being informed that VIP had informed about the matter and Rajapaksa had said he did not know an aircraft was to be changed in order to accommodate Capt. Praveen Wijeysinghe to facilitate the bringing down of the dog in question. Rajapaksa had told the VIPr that if this was the case he would fly the dog down on another airline. I then decided that given the fact he would take action on the matter and ensure there was no loss in revenue to Sri Lankan Airlines that I would not carry the story. I however telephoned Mr. Rajapaksa again to tell him that my decision was based purely on him promising to take action and not because he blatantly threatened me the previous day and used foul language.
Excerpts of the telephone conversation on July 6, 2012….
FJ: Mr. Rajapaksa I am calling you again because I have now been told that Mr. …….. spoke with you this morning and you have said you were not aware that he management at SriLankan were changing a plane resulting in a loss of 56 passengers in order to accommodate Capt. Praveen Wijeysinghe to bring down a puppy dog for you….
GR: I warned you yesterday not to speak with me. If these pilots are idiots to change a plane for this… that is not my fault. I was doing this the right way – but these pilots are fighting among themselves. And you shit journalists listen to them. They are f……g idiots… This is not my fault.
FJ: True. But the fact is a decision like this was taken and later changed when pressure was brought on the management by senior pilots…
GR: That is not correct! I have since checked and there was no such decision.
FJ: There definitely was. However since you have promised to take action I have decided to hold the story but I want you to know that I am not doing so because you threatened me yesterday…
GR: Yes I threatened you. You type of journalists are pigs who eat shit! Pigs who eat shit! Shit, Shit Shit journalists!!! Ninety percent of the people in this country hate you! They hate you!!! You come for a function where I am and I will tell people this is the Editor of The Sunday Leader and ninety percent there will show that they hate you.
FJ: I don’t think so.
GR: You don’t? That is your ego!! You are a shit, shit journalist. A f…..g shit. A pig who eats shit! I will go to courts!!! I will not withdraw the case on the MIG deal – this is how you wrote…
FJ: I had nothing to do with that story so I cannot comment.
GR: But I will put you in jail! You shit journalist trying to split this country – trying to show otherwise from true Sinhala Buddhists!! You are helped by the US Ambassador, NGOs and Pakiasothy – they pay you!!!
FJ: I wish.
GR: You pig that eats shit!!! You shit shit dirty f…..g journalist!!!
FJ: I hope you can hear yourself Mr. Rajapaksa.
GR: People will kill you!!! People hate you!!! They will kill you!!!
FJ: On your directive?
GR: What?? No. Not mine. But they will kill you – you dirty f…..g shit journalist.