By Colombo Telegraph –
Former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka was sentenced to three years in jail and fined Rs.5000 in a two-one split verdict delivered in the white flag case with two judges finding him guilty on one of the charges while one of the judges WTMPB Warawewa acquitted him on all three charges. However, according a leaked US diplomatic cable Fonseka did discuss the “white flag story” with the American Ambassador Patricia A. Butenis at a lunch meeting with UNP deputy leader Karu Jayasuriya the day Sunday Leader story was published. The Ambassador wrote “ “After Fonseka arrived, the former general discussed his interview in the Sunday Leader news paper on December 13, in which he had accused Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa of ordering at the end of the war the shooting of any LTTE leaders who might try to surrender under flags of truce.” She further wrote to Washington. “Fonseka claimed he did not know until two days later about the flurry of phone calls between Gotabhaya, the Norwegian ambassador, and the LTTE leadership regarding surrender and said he had been told details by journalists”
We below published Excerpts of the judgment by Judge W.T.M.P.B Warawewa and the related US Embassy Cable.
Excerpts of the judgment by Judge W.T.M.P.B Warawewa:
This case is based on an interview the former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka gave The Sunday Leader Editor Frederica Jansz in December 2010.
Frederica Jansz is a journalist by profession who had begun her journalism career in 1990 with Viz News and then worked at The Sunday Times before moving to The Sunday Leader. After joining the Leader as an investigative journalist in 1999, she became the Editor in December by which time the owner of the paper was Lal Wickramatunga, a witness in the case.
The headline in the Sunday Leader of December 13, 2009 was “Gota ordered them to be shot – General Sarath Fonseka”. The story was written by Frederica Jansz and she said this information had been reported before. At the time she published this report, she was aware that the defendant was contesting the upcoming Presidential election.
Ms. Jansz who conducted the interview on December 8 had failed to ask the defendant the name of the journalist who had divulged the information to him about the Defence Secretary. She said she had attempted to contact Gotabaya Rajapaksa to verify this information but he was not available in his office and hence she had left a message for him to call her.
Ms. Jansz had called the defendant on December 12 knowing the story was a sensational one. Here she had told him that she had been unable to get a comment from Basil Rajapaksa, Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, Brigadier Shavendra Silva or Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the telephone conversations had lasted 15 to 20 minutes. There is no record if such an attempt was made to contact these persons.
Ms. Jansz had in the conversation informed the defendant that she would be publishing the story with the headline “Gota ordered those shot.” The news article was published on December 13.
On January 3, 2010 she had published an article titled “her story” where she stated that what the defendant had told her was third hand information based on something he had heard from another person.
Ms. Jansz admitted that she had accompanied journalist Rakmish Wijewardene who was conducting the interview to see how he would conduct it and after its conclusion asked some questions from the defendant. Her last question was centered on the ‘white flag’ issue which had become a much talked about topic internationally. At that time both journalist Wijewardene and the cameraman who had accompanied her had left the room.
Later this story was sent for the ‘Scoop of the Year’ award as an entry to the journalism awards given by the Editors’ Guild. After this entry was rejected, she published articles in The Sunday Leader making allegations against Lalith Alahakoon, Amal Perera and Sinha Ratnatunga. Later she had to admit that it as not Amal Perera but Amal Jayasinghe who had been a judge for the awards of the Editors’ Guild. She also said that she had filed a complaint against Amal Jayasinghe saying one of her submissions to the awards had been stolen. It was later found that the file was on her desk at her office. After that she published articles written under the headline “You buy the lie” maligning all the other newspapers, saying they were only good to wrap fish.
It was sad to note that the prosecution had taken parts of the statement made by the accused Mr. Fonseka in order to substantiate the evidence given by The Sunday Leader Editor Frederica Jansz.
The evidence given by Ms. Jansz has not been substantiated by any other evidence led before the Courts.
The prosecution has failed to prove beyond doubt that Mr. Fonseka made a false statement.
The evidence given by Ms. Jansz contains false statements and creates doubts. Hundreds of lies have been uttered by her and it is not only one lie. It has been proved that her evidence is woven with lies and the article subject to question had been prepared based on other articles and on lies.
The article subject to question (Mr. Foneska’s interview) published on December 13, 2009 has similarities to the article published by the Daily Mirror on May 21, 2009. Ms. Jansz says that some of the information in her article had been extracted from the Cyber News, but she has not used it in quotes.
An analysis of the article shows that the sentence structure in her article is similar to that published in the Daily Mirror. Ms. Jansz maintains that journalists use the same words, but it cannot be accepted that all journalists use similar words in articles on the same topic.
Regarding the issue of submitting an application to the Editors’ Guild Awards she says that in her application she had mentioned that there was a clarification regarding the news item. But when she was further questioned she says that she believed she mentioned there was a clarification. It is surprising about the manner she changes the stance when she realizes that she has given a wrong answer. During cross examination, questions have been asked to establish that she was a witness who cannot be relied upon.
Therefore it should be analysed whether her evidence can be accepted. One of the witnesses who may have been called to establish whether Mr. Fonseka made the comments attributed to him would have been Mr. Lal Wickrematunga who was present at the interview, but not calling him as a witness does not prove the evidence given by Ms. Jansz. It only creates some doubt.
s. Jansz says that she did not take a tape recorder as the only tape recorder had been taken by another reporter for another interview with Mr. Udaya Gammanpila. Does this newspaper company have only one recorder? If the recording was available it would have been easy to establish whether a statement to this effect was made by Mr. Fonseka.
In her evidence she says that the words ‘wanted’ and ‘attempted’ give the same meaning. Therefore it has been established to the Courts that she is a witness who does not want to correct herself. She has been a witness who has been changing her stance from time to time, publishing falsehoods in a controversial manner and even not following Court orders.
Though Mr. Fonseka has been accused of uttering a falsehood that caused panic and terror among the public it is the witness Ms. Jansz and the owner of The Sunday Leader Lal Wickrematunge who have spread this. The prosecution had failed to prove the charges against former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka beyond doubt. The accused is acquitted and discharged on all three counts.
To read the related US Embassy cable click WikiLeaks – Fonseka did discuss the “white Flags story” with US ambassador
Related stories; White Flag Case: Illegal bench sentenced Fonseka for three years
Edirisingha / November 20, 2011
wow wow, i didnt know the bugger discussed the issue with US the day white flag story published. so, that lady didnt lie. i’m so sorry, i was thinking she fucked up SF campaign. thank you Colombo Telegraph for this news.
Vinod / November 20, 2011
you have not read properly or your comprehension skills are very low.
Vinoda badu / November 20, 2011
@Vinod, you should read it first please!
Lal Rathnayake / November 21, 2011
The Judge would not have had this info. He would also take this into account only if it was part of evidence led in court.
Lal Rathnayake / November 20, 2011
Why these all people say she lied ??
D.M.Thushara Jayarathna(Final year Law student) / November 20, 2011
Why our opposition parties note to bring impeachment against this barbaric regime
Gonawala sunil / November 20, 2011
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.
Why RAjapaksa gave him an illegal extension? Warawewa also a main actor of this whole drama, giving alternative judgement Rajapaksas wanted to show international community the Judiciary In Sri Lanka is independent. tha’s it. shame on you Rajapaksas.
Wambotta / November 22, 2011
You are right on the money.
Rathyaka Banda - USA / November 20, 2011
Don’t worry Mr Warawewa,Sir.You can get the US Green Card soon.And the remaining two judges also will have to apply for it for different reasons.
Keselwatte Ranasinghe / November 20, 2011
No, he will get a Ambassador post soon, then u all will understand !! :) ;) :) :)
Karu Abesinga / November 20, 2011
This was a just decision and I was convinced from the outset that Fonseka was guilty of the charges. However as an astute student of justice I shall be grateful if Justice W T M P B Waraweera could state the points he had apparently dissented on.
Sonali W / November 20, 2011
SF should have made some money, of course. he is the army commander in a country which spend 20% of its budget for military.
my question is was he the only one who got commission every other minister in lanka is clean?
Peter Casie Chetty / November 21, 2011
Fonseka made more allegations and reiterated what he said to Fredrika Jansz to other media institutions including those that were not local ones. So the problem is whether or not she knows the basic journalism law and in my opinion she does not. Furthermore she is a liar and used Fonseka to get even with the President and his brothers. It should be realised that a Sunday Leader is not a newspaper in the real sense of the word because it does not base it stories on fact and almost never has evidence to substantiate the articles it publishes. It provokes the basic instinct in a person and caters to the semi educated lower class anti Government city dweller the same as Jansz herself.. Now she will seek political refuge in a “western country” where she will write her memoires of a “journalist who pretended that the media in Sri Lanka was not free”. Peter Roebuck abused children (a few of them) but Fonseka and Jansz abused a whole nation. Think about it.
I have been a journalist since 1966 and saw the better side of journalism where we learned the law and etiquette that governed the profession. Fredrika Jansz and Lal Wickrematunga. his brother and the other members of his family abused the power of a pen which makes them as bad as people they are pretending to expose.
Kornelius / November 22, 2011
Peter Casie Chetty, whoever you are, your frustration is showing. Perhaps Frederica has enjoyed more readership from 1990 than you from 1966? Gonawala Sunil’s and Keselwatte Ranasinghe’s comments above are interesting. Yes, let’s wait for the long term outcome on that one. I wonder why they have to comment under assumed names? After all, we do enjoy freedom of expression in this country, don’t we?
September Effect / November 23, 2011
This is the internet you fool, people can you use any name they want. They have used these names for historical reasons to draw a sense of irony and or connection with the past and today.
silva / November 23, 2011
All Sri Lanka knows that that this case of filed with malicious intent by the influence pg Mahinda Rajapakse and his brothers. They are scared of General coming to Politics. They will bring thousand more charges against him. Can you see how they protected murder suspect Duminda.When these thins are published abroad , foreigners Thinks Sri Lankans are poolished idiotic people to tolerate this kind of dictator
Jurist i Gävle / January 25, 2012
hello!,I really like your writing so so much! proportion we keep up a correspondence more about your article on AOL? I require an expert in this house to unravel my problem. May be that is you! Looking ahead to look you.
Pingback: Two New Witnesses Claim They Independently Saw “The White Flag Incident” | Sri Lanka / February 26, 2013
Pingback: Two New Witnesses Claim They Independently Saw “The White Flag Incident” | Colombo Telegraph / February 28, 2013
Pingback: Uncovering Sri Lanka’s ‘White Flag Incident’ | Colombo Telegraph / March 8, 2013