BASL dismayed by Prez, PM skipping court again

Tissa’s forgery case:


by Shamindra Ferdinando

President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) U.R. de Silva PC, yesterday, said that the Attorney General’s Department should intervene to ensure the presence of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister in the Colombo High Court hearing the case against former UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake.

Attanayake has been accused of forging the signatures of President Sirisena and Premier Wickremesinghe in the run-up to January 8, 2015 presidential election.

 The Island sought the BASL’s view on the matter yesterday afternoon after the Colombo High Court had reissued notice for the fifth time on the UNP and the SLFP leaders, re-fixing the trial for January 22 and 23.

 The President’s Counsel acknowledged that the failure on the part of those responsible to ensure their presence couldn’t be condoned under any circumstances. Noting that both President and the Premier were currently overseas on official visits, the BASL chief pointed out that they could again leave the country ahead of the next date of trial.

 The Colombo High Court on Dec. 5, 2016 issued summons on 15 witnesses including the President and Prime Minister to give evidence as the prosecution witnesses in the case.

 The accused had been charged under Section 3(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act No. 56 of 2007. This is the first time in Sri Lanka that an accused had been indicted in the High Court by the Attorney General for an offence that comes under the ICCPR Act.

Besides Attanayake has been indicted under the Penal Code and the Presidential Election Act

 U.R. de Silva said that the AG’s Department could take up this matter with relevant lawyers to reach agreement on dates the President and the PM could appear in court. Responding to another query, the BASL chief said that as such arrangements had been made in respect of other cases there was no justification in allowing Attanayake’s case to drag on unnecessarily.

 The BASL admitted that the manner in which that particular case was being handled could send the wrong signal to the public.

 Justice Minister Thalatha Atukorale is currently on a visit to Japan.

 Attanayake was arrested on Feb 2, 2015 for allegedly issuing a document pertaining to what he called a secret agreement between President Sirisena and Premier Wickremesinghe to secure the support of the Tamil electorate by giving concessions to the Tamil National Alliance in the run up to the previous presidential election.

 UNP General Secretary Attanayake switched his allegiance to the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Dec 8, 2014.

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