Controversy over dismissed high profile cases: CIABOC can initiate fresh action: DG Legal Affairs

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Director General, Legal Affairs, at the Presidential Secretariat attorney-at-law Harigupta Rohanadeera says the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) retained the right to initiate fresh proceedings in respect of cases dismissed by courts as well as those withdrawn by the institution.

Rohanadeera said so appearing in the latest ‘Salakuna’ live interview on ‘Hiru’ anchored by Chamuditha Samarawickrema. The Presidential Secretariat Director General explained how those cases could be resumed again though being terminated on technical grounds.

Samarawickreme, one-time media head of President Maithripala Sirisena questioned the rationale in the dismissal of a spate of high profile cases initiated by the CIABOC and the Attorney General’s Department during the previous administration.

The new CIABOC comprises retired Supreme Court Justice Eva Wanasundera, retired Court of Appeal Justice Deepali Wijesundera and retired DIG and one time Chief of State Intelligence Service during the previous Rajapaksa administration Chandra Nimal Wakishta.

The new commission has been constituted in terms of the 20th Amendment enacted last October by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa hitherto shared with the Parliament and the judiciary.

The CIABOC dropped all charges against former lawmaker and Foreign Ministry Monitoring MP Sajin Vass Gunawardena pertaining to Mihin Lanka case. That particular case dealt with misappropriation of public funds amounting to Rs 883 mn.

The other persons freed included one-time Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pilleyan (now MP backing the SLPP), Minister Johnston Fernando, Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena, Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Minister Janaka Bandara Tennakoon and former Chief Justice Mohan Peiris. The former CJ received appointment as Sri Lanka’s top representative at the United Nations in New York.

Asked to explain the status of follow-up action on report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Political Victimization (2015-2019), Rohanadeera pointed out the appointment of a Special Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) to go into the report. The P CoI comprises Supreme Court Judges Dhammika Priyantha Samarakoon Jayawardena, Hema Kumuduni Wickramasinghe and Court of Appeal Judge Sobhitha Rajakaruna.

Reference was also made to the recommendations made by Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Political Victimization pertaining to deprival of civic rights of politicians’ et al.

Rohanadeera declined to comment on the status of parliamentary proceedings and follow-up action pertaining to the report submitted by the Commission. Denial of civic rights has been made against Rajitha Senaratne (SJB), Patali Champika Ranawaka (SJB), R. Sampanthan (TNA), M.A. Sumanthiran (TNA), Anura Kumara Dissanayake (JVP), the late Mangala Samaraweera (former lawmaker), Ravi Karunanayake (former lawmaker), Ajith P Perera (former lawmaker), Arjuna Ranatunga (former lawmaker), Ranjan Ramanayake (former UNP lawmaker, now in remand for contempt of court), Ranil Wickremesinghe (UNP Leader), Sarath Fonseka (SJB), Rauff Hakeem (SLMC), Malik Samarawickrema (former lawmaker), J.C. Weliamuna, PC (former High Commissioner to Australia), Jayampathi Wickremaratne , PC (former lawmaker), Wasantha Navaratne ,PC, Thusith Mudalige ( Additional Solicitor General, AG’s Department), Upul Jayasuriya,PC, Dilrukshi Dias Wickramasinghe, PC (former Solicitor General), Janaka Bandara (Senior State Counsel AG’s Department), Shani Abeysekera (SSP, Former CID Director) B.S. Tissera (ASP,ex- CID), Ravi Waidyalankara (SDIG FCID), Nishantha Silva ( IP, ex- CID OIC), Ravi Seneviratne (SDIG, ex- CID), Ravindra Wijeguneratne( Admiral, ex- Navy Commander), JJ Ranasinghe (Rear Admiral SLN), Prasad Kariyawasam (ex-Foreign Secretary), Ravinatha Aryasinha (Ambassador in Washington), Saman Ekanayake (ex-Secy to PM Wickremesinghe), S.A. Khan (ex-Ambassador to the UAE) and C.A.H.M. Wijeratne ( Former Director General Legal, MFA and Ambassador for Sri Lanka to Poland).

Rohanadeera also dealt with several other issues, including the contentious issue of making vaccination compulsory as part of the overall government response to raging Covid-19 pandemic.

The top official strongly backed the measure in line with what he called doctrine of necessity. Pointing out the Director General of Health Services (DGHS) Dr Asela Gunawardena enjoyed the legal right to decide on such matters, Rohanadeera said that anyone opposed to mandatory vaccination could move the Supreme Court.

General Shavendra Silva, who is the head of the Covid-19 Task Force, recently declared that those visiting public places would be asked to produce vaccination certificate from Sept 15.

Acknowledging the freedom of speech and the right to dissent and protest, the attorney-at-law emphasized the responsibility on the part of the people to follow the health guidelines or prepare to face the consequences.

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