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*Commission probing human rights violations
Nesiah dropped after President’s intervention

The Commission of Inquiry probing alleged serious violations of human rights yesterday requested Dr. Devanesan Nesiah, a member of the COI to step down after Gomin Dayasri, Attorney-at-Law and Counsel for the Army challenged his presence on the Commission despite a presidential directive.

Dr. Nesiah joined Tuesday's proceedings at the BMICH although President Mahinda Rajapaksa had previously directed him to quit the ongoing investigations on the massacre of five youth in Trincomalee in January 2006 and 17 aid workers at Muttur in early August same year.

The Counsel for the Army pointed out the illegality of Dr. Nesiah's presence in spite of the presidential directive. The Counsel has warned if the CoI had disregarded the directive given by the appointing authority, it would make the eventual findings objectionable in a court of law. He also pointed out the absurdity in jeopardizing the entire investigation conducted at a cost of Rs. 50 million.

Subsequently Justice Nissanka K. Udalagama, Chairman of the CoI adjourned proceedings. Shortly thereafter, Udalagama announced Dr. Nesiah wouldn’t take part in the proceedings.

The President last week informed Justice Udalagama that a decision would be made on Dr. Nesiah whose relationship with the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), a key party to the investigation had been challenged by Messrs Gomin Dayasri and S. L. Gunasekera, Attorney-at-Law and Counsel for the Special Task Force.

The STF has been accused of the Trincomalee massacre.

Well informed sources said that although Justice Udalagama and members of the CoI namely Javid Ysuf, Ms Jezima Ismail, S. S. Wijeratne, Ms Manori Muttetuwegama, K. Logeswaran and D. Premaratne had been aware of the presidential directive, the CoI hadn’t discussed the issue.

Both Gomin Dayasiri and S. L. Gunasekera had repeatedly called for Nesiah’s removal.

In his letter dated June 6 addressed to Dr. Nesiah, a former government agent for Jaffna, Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President while explaining the decision to call for his expulsion from the CoI, has sought an explanation from him regarding his relationship with the CPA. The Presidential Secretariat has requested the explanation before June 13. Weeratunga has said the explanation should contain details of Dr. Nesiah’s functions at the CPA,remuneration and allowances received and all other relevant details that would enable the President to form a view regarding the true nature of the past and existing relationship and association Dr. Nesiah has had with the CPA.

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