Basil requests to transfer almanac case from HC Judge Gihan Kulatunga

Former Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa sought an order from Colombo High Court to transfer the controversial almanac case from High Court Judge Judge Gihan Kulatunga to another High Court of Colombo.

High Court Judge Judge Gihan Kulatunga announced that he would make an appropriate order in this regard, on November 15.

The Court was informed that Basil Rajapaksa had filed a Transfer Application in the Court of Appeal, seeking an order staying any further proceedings into the controversial almanac case before Colombo High Court Judge Gihan Kulatunga, currently presiding at Court No.6 of the Colombo High Court.

Meanwhile, Senior State Counsel Sudarshana de Silva appearing on behalf of the Attorney General raised objections at the request, citing that the defence was purposely attempting to postpone the hearings. He further added that so far there is no order by the Court of Appeal regarding this transfer application and moved the High Court to proceed with the trial.

High Court Judge Gihan Kulatunga is the Colombo High Court Judge who delivered the judgment regarding Controversial Sil Redi (fabrics used by devotees to observe sill) distribution case. Former Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunge and former Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) Director General Anusha Palpita were sentenced to three-year-rigorous imprisonment by Colombo High Court for misappropriating Rs. 600 million of funds belonging to TRC.

Defence Counsel appearing on behalf of Basil Rajapaksa stated that High Court Judge Gihan Kulatunga was a member of Presidential Commission (PRECIFAC), which initiated an inquiry against him. He further stated that one of the primary grounds on which the proceedings before PRECIFAC are sought to be challenged by him before the Court of Appeal was thatt he was denied a fair hearing at the purported inquiry by the PRECIFAC.

Accordingly, the case filed against two accused including former Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa for allegedly misappropriating Rs.29.4 million of funds belonging to Divi Neguma Department was yesterday re-fixed for trial on November 15 by Colombo High Court judge Gihan Kulatunga.

The Attorney General had filed indictments against the former Minister and former director General of Divi Neguma Department Kithsiri Ranawaka in the Colombo High Court for allegedly printing 5 million almanacs with the image of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, costing Rs.29.4 million, to be used as election propaganda material, during January-2015 Presidential election.

The Attorney General alleged that by printing these almanacs between 23 November and 31 December 2014, these accused had attempted to influence citizens of this country to vote for presidential candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa. The AG maintained that the act of the accused deems him guilty of the offence of bribery in accordance with the section 79 of the Presidential Election Act No 15 of 1981.

Furthermore, the two accused had been charged under the Public Property Act No 12 of 1982 to file misappropriation charges. The AG had listed 32 people as witnesses in the case.

Senior State Counsel Sudarshana Silva appeared for the Attorney General. President’s Counsel Anil Silva with Jayantha Weerasinghe PC appeared for the accused.

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