Another showdown before bond probe commission

By Shyam Nuwan Ganewatta and Sarath Dharmasena

Leader of the Attorney General’s Department team of lawyers, Senior Additional Solicitor General (SASG) Dappula de Livera PC locked horns with Counsel Chanaka de Silva, who is leading the team of lawyers appearing for former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran. Tempers flared up while Counsel de Silva was questioning Deputy Secretary to the Treasury (DST) S. R. Attygalle on the content of an undated letter written by former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake to the Central Bank Governor, at yesterday's session of Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing the alleged bond scams.

Counsel de Silva asked DST Attyagalle whether it was found after the change of government that state expenditure had not been properly documented.

Attygalle: No. All expenditure has been properly recorded.

Guarantees for the state owned enterprises had been recorded separately because they did not come under the expenditure category, Attygalle said, adding that they had been published in the Finance Ministry reports and submitted to Parliament. He said they were now in the public domain.

Asked by Counsel de Silva whether he thought everything had been in order, Attygalle said, "Definitely!"

When Counsel de Silva showed the letter at issue to Attygalle the latter said he had not seen it before. SASG de Livera raised objections to questions being asked on something Attygalle had not seen.

Accepting the objections, Chairman of the Presidential Commission Supreme Court Judge KT Chitrasiri overruled the question raised by Counsel de Silva.

SASG de Livera protested when de Silva asked Attygalle whether he (Attygalle) had any reason to doubt the content of the undated letter as he had identified the Finance Minister’s signature thereon.

After the Commission had permitted the objections, De Silva told De Livera to sit down.

De Livera: I will sit whenever I want. My friend, you can't dictate to me.

De Silva: You also can’t dictate to me.

De Livera: I dictate to you.

De Silva: You can’t do so.

A heated argument ensued between De Livera and De Silva with both speaking at the same time making it impossible to follow what they were saying.

Commission member Supreme Court Judge Prasanna S Jayawardena intervened to bring the situation under control. He asked both De Livera and De Silva to stop shouting. "Both of you stop this. Aren't you senior lawyers?"

Thereafter, Chairman of the Presidential Commission Supreme Court Judge Chitrasiri instructed de Silva to ask a different question.

The letter in question was produced before the Commission on an earlier occasion by De Silva.

While proceedings were on Counsel Harshana Nanayakkara, appearing for interdicted Central Bank officer Saman Kumara, was seen engaged in a discussion with a lawyer appearing for former Governor Mahendran, at the bar table. That prompted Justice Jayawardena to tell Saman Kumara’s lawyer, "Mr. Nanayakkara, are you appearing for Saman Kumara or for Mahendran?" Counsel Nanayakkara returned to the seat he had occupied previously.

The commission is scheduled to resume sittings at 10.00 am today.

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