Homagama incidents:
Call for tough action against perpetrators


by Shamindra Ferdinando

An organisation that represents the interests of the military yesterday alleged that recent incidents caused by Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) at the Homagama Magistrate’s Court, where a case pertaining to the disappearance of media personality Prageeth Ekneligoda was being heard, undermined the judiciary.

Convenor of War Heroes’ for Motherland retired Maj. Ajith Prasanna yesterday told The Island that the Attorney General’s Department, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), the National Police Commission (NPC) as well as civil society organisations should closely monitor the case before the Homagama Magistrate’s Court.

Several officers and men of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) had been taken into custody by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in connection with their alleged involvement in the disappearance on the eve of the January 26, 2010 presidential poll.

The former Southern Provincial Council member said that various interested parties in an obvious bid to gain petty political mileage had compared the recent producing in court of UNP MP Hirunika Premachandra and General Secretary of the BBS Ven. Galagodaatte Gnanasara thera, with the former being given bail swiftly.

Prasanna became an attorney-at-law after leaving the Army consequent to being wounded in battle on Oct 1, 1995 at Athchuveli, Jaffna.

Responding to a query, Maj. Prasanna said that the BASL should take a strong stand against attempts to interfere with the judiciary under any circumstances. The Homagama incidents had been detrimental to the military facing a spate of accusations ahead of a formal inquiry in accordance with a resolution adopted in Geneva last October.

The activist said that a person who had yawned in a court was given an eight month jail term. Ven. Gnanasara’s actions both in and outside of the Homagama Magistrate court on January 25 and the BBS siege on the same premises should be viewed against the backdrop of a person being sentenced for yawning in court, the attorney-at-law said.

The war winning previous government had earned the wrath of a section of the populace for interfering in judiciary and law enforcement operations, the retired soldier.

Responding to a query, Maj. Prasanna said various allegations directed at the media, too, should be investigated and anyone found guilty dealt accordingly. Noting that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had strongly criticized the conduct of a section of the media, the former UPFA politician said that media organizations should call for an impartial inquiry into various accusations.

Several politicians, including Ports and Shipping Minister Arjuna Ranatunga, Social Empowerment and Welfare Minister Ranjan Ramanayake as well as Patali Champika Ranawaka, when he was in the UPFA had accused journalists of accepting money.

Assistant Secretary of the Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka Mohanlal Piyadasa yesterday told The Island that a statement would be issued once the Executive Committee of the Guild discussed various allegations and the Prime Minister’s statement.

Premier Wickremesinghe said he would go to courts in case the media asserted that there had been no wrongdoing on their part. "If you are going to courts, you need to go with clean hands. There is an Editors’ Guild. What did it do when the Uthayan newspaper was attacked? If you are going to courts now against police over the Embilipitiya incident, we, too, can go there. I can give an affidavit mentioning what the editors did in the past."

Piyadasa said the Editors’ Guild would respond to accusations once the Ex-Co had an opportunity to examine the allegations.

President of the Editors’ Guild Siri Ranasinghe yesterday said that a statement would be issued following consultations with senior members.

Deputy Media Minister Karunaratne Paranavithana recently acknowledged the need to inquire into various accusations directed at state-owned and private media during a live interview on Sirisa ‘Pathrikada.’ Asked whether journalists could be provided with a range of facilities, including vehicle loans at the taxpayers expense, Paranavitahna defended state grants. The Deputy Minister asserted that such support shouldn’t be considered a bribe.

Attorney-at-law Prasanna expressed disappointment that the Yahapalana government hadn’t initiated a proper inquiry into allegations.

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