Ekneligoda murder trial: Witness Sumathipala testifies in camera

The case filed against Nine Army Intelligence personnel who were out on bail, in connection with the abduction and murder of journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda was fixed for further trial on June 27 by the Colombo Permanent High Court Trial-at-Bar yesterday.

The case was taken up before the Colombo Permanent High Court Trial-at-Bar bench  comprising Colombo High Court Judges Sanjeewa Morayas, Mahen Weeraman and Damith Thotawatta.

When the case was taken up before Court, prosecution witness, former LTTE member Sumathipala Suresh Kumar testified for the second consecutive day. He was produced before the Court by the Prison Authorities. Sumathipala said that he did not know Pradeep Eknaligoda until he went to the CID and that he had memorized a statement given to him by the CID to record statements. The witness testified that the statement given before the Homagama Magistrate’s Court was given only on the instructions of the CID and that the Magistrate never read the statement to him again after giving that statement at that time.

The statement which was given by him before the Homagama Magistrate’s Court was given to him by CID officer Premathilake in Tamil, he added.

Then he was questioned by the State Counsel who appeared on behalf of the Attorney General that if CID Officer Premathilake gave a statement to memorize in Tamil language, why he had given his statement before the Magistrate’s Court in Sinhala.

Responding to the query, he said that he is not fluent in Sinhala but he can manage to speak in Sinhala at some kind of a level and that was his first time appeared before a Court as a witness. He also testified in this court in Tamil and was assisted by a translator to translate into Sinhala. He had earlier told Court that he was an ordinary person engaged in farming and fisheries activities, but it was revealed before the Court that he now owns two boats used for fishing.

Senior Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Pieris appearing on behalf of the Attorney General questioned him further.

His testimony during the SDSG Pieris interrogation revealed that he had previously travelled to Qatar, where, according to the witness, he had stayed in a hostel without doing any work, and then went to Dubai, and then to Azerbaijan. He was told that he had been assisted in this by an agency run by someone in Switzerland, and that agent was contacted by his brother, who lives in London. After that, very important evidence was recorded from him and it was not disclosed to outsiders and the media.

The case will be taken up again on June 27 for further trial.

The Attorney General had filed indictments, comprising 17 charges under Section 450(4) of Criminal Procedure Act No 15 of 1979 as amended by Act No 21 of 1988 in the High Court against nine army intelligence officers attached to the Giritale Army camp in connection with the abduction and murder of journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda.

The Attorney General had named Lt.Colonel Shammi Arjun Kumararatne, R.M.P.K.Rajapaksa alias Nadan, W. W. Priyantha Dilanjan Upasena alias Suresh, S.M. Ravindra Rupasena alias Ranji, Y.M Chaminda Kumara Abeyratne, S. M. Kanishka Gunaratne, Aiyasami Balasubramaniam, Prasad Gamage and T.E.R. Pieris as accused in the case for abduction charges.


by dailynews sri lanka

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