By Colombo Telegraph –
Former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka was sentenced by the Colombo High Court to three years in jail and imposed a fine of five thousand rupees or six months in jail for default. The Colombo High Court delivered judgment today on the white flag case involving former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka. In this case he is accused of having made a statement to Sunday Leader Editor Frederica Jansz alleging that the Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa had ordered Brigadier Shavendra Silva to shoot LTTE cadres who surrendered with while flags.
An interesting question of law has arisen in relation to the Fonseka White Flag case. Mr W.T.M.P.B. Warawewa, one of the 3 judges who heard the case, reached the age of retirement of 61 years while the case was going on. President Rajapakse gave him an extension to enable him to continue to hear the case. Legal experts say that the age of retirement of a High Court Judge is fixed at 61 years by section 6 of the Judicature Act and there is no legal provision for an extension to be given. They point out that the 3-judge bench was thus not properly constituted and any decision by the bench is illegal. Colombo Telegraph posed the question whether Fonseka’s lawyers raised the issue in the court. One expert stated that the lawyers may purposely not have raised the question, so that the question can be raised in appeal. “Consent does not give jurisdiction” is a well-known legal principle and may be the lawyers will raise it in appeal” another legal academic said.
During the Trial-at-Bar before Judges Deepali Wijesundera (President) W.T.M.P.B. Warawewa and M.Z. Razeen several witnesses including the Defense Secretary the Sunday Leader Editor and Major General Shavendra Silva gave evidence. The prosecution was headed by Deputy Solicitor General Wasantha Navaratna Bandara with Senior State Counsel Dilan Rantnayake, Lakmini Girihagama and Riaz Bary. But later Deputy Solicitor General Buveneka Aluvihare appeared for the state. Senior Counsel Nalin Ladduwahetty with a team of senior and junior lawyers of the Colombo High Court Bar defended Mr. Fonseka