SC asks AG for report on Fonseka’s security
AG tells the court
‘Unlawful benefits would amount to corruption’
Gen. SF refused Gen. Pannipitiya extra security

The Supreme Court yesterday advised the Attorney General to submit, for court perusal, a confidential assessment report of the security granted to General Sarath Fonseka, subsequent to his retirement from the posts of Commander of the Sri Lanka Army and Chief of Defence Staff.

Security granted to Fonseka at present will remain the same till December 11, 2009 the next date of hearing. The fundamental rights violation application filed by Fonseka, complaining that his security was inadequate was supported in Court yesterday by Romesh de Silva, PC.

The Counsel said that Gen. Sarath Fonseka had been the Army Commander for four and a half years. During that time, most of the LTTE leaders, including Prabhakaran had been killed. Fonseka’s life was under LTTE threat. The State recognized the need for security of persons under threat from the LTTE. The State provided0 adequate security to the widow of Lakshman Kadirgarmar and to the retired Navy Commander, Vasantha Karannagoda, the Court was told.

The security of Fonseka had been arbitrarily reduced after he retired as the Chief of Defence Staff, he said.

Fonseka had written to the President complaining of inadequate security, the counsel said.

Fonseka, the counsel said needed three cars in a convoy, including two bullet proof ones. There should also be six jeeps. That is, two jeeps escorting each car, he said.

Chief Justice: Where can the other people go? He needs security. But the way you describe it, it could be problematic.

Romesh de Silva: There was a war for 30 years. The General Commanded the army up to victory successfully.

Many people do not need much security to block the roads. The General is among the few people who need high security.

Chief Justice: What is the security given at present?

Romesh de Silva: One bullet proof car. Two jeeps. The bullet proof car is at the end of its usage.

Romesh de Silva said that the petitioner needed adequate security for his residence and office. The personnel allotted to him should be trustworthy.

The right to life is the basic right. All other rights stemmed from that. No life should be destroyed arbitrarily.

Attorney General Mohan Peiris PC, appeared for the State.

The Attorney General said that there was no legal basis for the petition. Only sentiments had been expressed. The petitioner had filed a further affidavit on November 30, and said that he was the joint opposition candidate and that if he felt that there was political victimisation against him he would move Court.

The AG said the General had written to the Secretary to the President and asked for 79 security personnel; he already had 66 personnel. He had been given one bullet proof BMW and two Land Rovers. There was an additional vehicle given for miscellaneous use. He was up to date occupying the official residence at Baudhaloka Mawatha. Unlawful benefits would amount to corruption, the AG said.

The retired President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who had been the Commander in Chief, was granted retirement benefits only as permitted by an Act of Parliament. She had survived an LTTE assassination attack with a major eye injury. The other former Presidents and their widows were granted benefits only according to law. General Fonseka, when he was Commander, had said that Major General Parakrama Pannipitiya, could be given retirement security as prescribed by the law only.

The petitioner on November 11, 2009, had said that he had the security promised by the President. He could not ask for more. The petitioner had changed his civil status now and was asking for more. The AG said that he could not, and would not attempt to contest and seek to remain in the official residence of the AG after retirement.

Romesh de Silva PC appeared with A.P. Niles, Sudath Caldera and Rajiv de Silva for General Fonseka.

The Bench comprised the Chief Justice Asoka de Silva, Justice N. G. Amaratunga and Justice P. A. Ratnayaka.

The Venerable Omara Kassapa Thera, sought to intervene. He was given time till December 11, 2009, to file an affidavit and a petition in intervention.

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