The summons issued to Gotabhya Rajapaksha in the Lalit-Kugan disappearance case was cancelled
The inquiry proceeding in the Magistrate Court of Jaffna regarding the abduction of comrade Lalit Kumar Weeraraju and Kugan Muruganandan is the main court case that address all the abductions and disappearances during the Mahinda Rajapaksha regime. Immediate after the incident which took place December 2011 two habeas corpus petitions were filed in the Court of Appeal and obtained a direction to have an inquiry regarding the those abductions. Thereafter various witnesses have been called to investigate the facts which are involved in the incident.
During the inquiry Keheliya Rabukwella who was the cabinet media spokesmen of Rajapaksha regime was called as a witness and he had at the Magisterial Inquiry said that he was made aware that Lalith and Kugan were both alive by the “Secretary of Defence”. Quoting a statement given to media that Lalit and Kugan were alive he stated that “the statement that I made that the information received from the Government security sources on or around December 15 stating that the two political prisoners are alive is hundred percent correct. I stated that based on the information I received from the Government and the Defence Secretary”
Based on his evidence then defence secretary Gotabhya Rajapaksa was summoned by the Magistrate’s Court. He was first issued summons on March 28,2019, to be present on May 3rd. However a lawyer appearing on his behalf stated that Mr. Rajapaksa was in a personal difficulty. Thereafter he was re-summoned to be present in court on June 21. He provided medical reports on the date and said that he was not in a position to be present after which he was summoned on September 27 on a “date convenient to him” . No application with regard to “Security threats” were made then.
In the meantime just 3 days prior to the Magistrate Court case Gotabhya Rajapaksha filed an application to “recall summons issued by the Magistrates Court ” and named himself as the Petitioner in the same case. Justice Wijesundara granted the interim order on the same day it was supported September 24 extending till December 3. The order was made despite the practice of court being to refer any matter in which a judge recuses themselves to the President of the Court.
Rule 2 (1) (b) of the Appellate procedure rules for Ex-Parte interim orders read that they “shall be for a limited period not exceeding two weeks”. The court granted the stay order till 2nd December contrary to the court rules which facilitated Gotabhya to avoid court until the presidential election which was scheduled to have on 18th November.
Thereafter the lawyers appeared for the victims informed court that the Court of Appeal rules are clear that an ex-parte interim order can only be given for a period of two weeks. At the end of the hearing despite sound objections raised on behalf of the victims , Justice Wijesundara refused the said position and she made the order giving time till 3rd of December 2019 for Gotabhya Rajapaksha to file objections. On behalf of the victims informed court that the Court of Appeal Rules are clear and that an interim order Ex-Parte could only be only granted for a period of two weeks and that the order preventing Gotabhya Rajapaksha from being summoned till December 3 was illegal. However, that position was rejected. Recently Justice Wijesundara was appointed as a commissioner to Bribery Commission by the president Rajapaksha.
Furthermore Gotabhya Rajapaksha obtained the stay order indicating the court that he “had a security threat” in Jaffna. However He went to Jaffna for a political rally on 30 the October 2019 proving the fact that he misled the court to obtain the orders.
Ultimately Gotabhya Rajapaksha was able to delay his evidence until the conclusion of the presidential election. Thereafter he made an application to the Court of Appeal since now he being the president of the country he has an immunity to refrain from giving evidence. This is a classic example how the powerful people play out the law and handle the judiciary for their benefit.On 23rd Novenmber 2020 the Court of Appeal upheld the said objection and recalled the summons issued to Gotabhya Rajapaksha. Wife of Kugan and father of Lalith have been struggling for 8 years seeking the justice for their husband and son. Lalit was the organizer of the Frontline Socialist Party and the Movement for People’s struggle and a well-known human rights activist who organized the people of north and east against abductions and disappearances.
Gotabhya Rajapaksha who was then defence secretary is liable for these abductions as he was promoted himself as the main commanding personality of the war during his own presidential election campaign. If he is entitled for the credit of war inevitably discredit of all the inhuman and degrading incidents of the war must be gone to him as well. After becoming the president of the country Gotabhya Rajapaksha made a statement that there are no disappeared persons in fact all were dead. His attitude on the abductions and disappearances is reflected in the said statement and thus victims could not expect justice for their grievances. Unless the Sinhala Tamil and Muslim oppressed are united to change the system this vicious circle will be continued superseding the fundamental rights of the people.