The independence of the courts appears to have been affected ever since President Maithripala Sirisena launched a verbal attack on the arresting and remanding of army intelligence officers, with even Mount Lavinia Magistrate Mohammed Shahabdeen falling under pressure and releasing Army Intelligence Officer Premananda Udalagama on bail despite his involvement in the assassination of Editor of Sunday Leader Lasantha Wickrematunge.
Udalagama was released on a cash bail of Rs. 50,000 and three sureties of Rs. 500,000 each.
The court order comes just weeks since President Maithripala Sirisena launched a verbal attack against the arresting and remanding of Army Intelligence Officers who have been involved in various criminal activities including being linked to murder.
On October 14, Udalagama was also released on bail by the Gampaha Magistrate Kaweendra Nanayakkara even though he was identified as the culprit who attacked former editor of the Rivira Newspaper, Upali Tennakoon.
In July, the CID arrested Udalagama in connection to the Wickrematunge murder. The Army Intelligence Officer was also identified as the person who abducted Dias, the slain editor’s driver. Udalagama had kidnapped Dias because in his intoxicated state, Dias had gone around making allegations to the effect that former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa was behind Wickrematunge’s assassination.
Wickrematunge, a strong critic of the government under former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was killed in January 2009 while he was on his way to work.