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New laws, High Courts will expedite corruption cases - PM

 Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe conversing with some students of the Kularatne Central College in Godakawela yesterday.

The government will formulate new laws and rid the loopholes in the process of bringing persons involved in fraud and corruption into justice, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday said.

Wickremesinghe said a cabinet paper is already tabled by Justice Minister Thalatha Athukorale for a special high court which will expedite case hearings from 5 to 6 years to six months.

The PM made these observations at UNP election campaign rallies held at Godakawela, Elpitiya and Homagama.

“I thanked Justice Minister Thalatha Athukorale for taking action to remove obstacles in the way of bringing corrupt persons to book. Now there is a proper setting to punish these corrupt people. Many ask us as to when we are going to catch these thieves. Catching thieves is one thing. Punishing is another. Prolonging court cases for three to four months has become a part of the normal procedure. Some cases are prolonged for six months or even a year. In such a scenario, it will take about five years to give a judgment for a case.” PM Wickremesinghe pointed out.

“When the cases are taken to the Appeal Court it will take another two or so years. Then these cases are taken to the Supreme Court as well. If it takes five years for proceedings, the witnesses will even forget their evidence. Police officers who are working on those cases may retire. Sometimes, we fail to give a proper judgment to the case,” he said.

Wickremesinghe also said that police officers have pointed out that if it takes five years to give a judgment, there is no point in filing cases in the first place. “They told us that witnesses might pass away during course of the proceedings, or they might leave the country. Thus they pointed out that cases should be immediately heard,” PM Wickremesinghe said.

He further said that there were several discussions on the said matter with Justice Minister Thalatha Athukorale. The government has set down new laws taking above issues into consideration, PM Wickremesinghe also said. “According to this new law, the Attorney General can forward certain cases directly to the special High Court. Those cases will be heard by three judges. The hearings will not be prolonged and we should be able to receive the judgment of a case within six months. The maximum it should take is one or two years,” he added.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe pointed out that with the new laws no one will have to wait for ten years to bring offenders to justice. “The whole process of bringing offenders to justice will be accelerated with these new laws. There are number of obstacles in the process of catching the offenders and filing cases against them. Deputy Minister Ajith P. Perera has proposed to establish a new unit for case productions. Justice Minister Athukorale has taken this proposal into consideration and established a new division for case productions, with the consultation of the Attorney General. This will also expedite in closing cases soon,” he also pointed out.