Almanac case: AG’s decision to be announced on November 11
The Attorney General yesterday informed the Colombo High Court that the decision on whether to proceed with the almanac case filed against two accused including Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa will be told on November 11.
When the case was yesterday taken up before the Colombo High Court Judge Damith Thotawatta, the charge sheet against the accused was read out in open court and trial commenced.
President’s Counsel Gamini Marapana appearing for accused Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa told Court that they had met the Attorney General before on his permission and requested him in writing to withdraw the indictment due to there being no evidence to prove the charges against the accused.
Meanwhile,Senior Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Pieris appearing on behalf of the Attorney General told Court that the indictment has been filed based on the Police investigations report and the statements and there is no opportunity for the prosecution to discuss with the prosecution witnesses prior to commencement of the trial.
Therefore, they expect to conduct the testimony of the prosecution witness Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Samurdhi, Champika Dilan Kaluarachchi. Accordingly, prosecution witness Kaluarachchi appeared before court yesterday to record his testimony.
In his testimony, he said that the almanacs have been printed annually and were to be distributed for the people in January in every year. Accordingly, they have also printed the almanacs for 2015 in December 2014 and 5 million almanacs were printed with the image of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa planting a coconut sapling. However, that almanacs weren’t distributed to the people due to there being an order from the Elections Commission to not to distribute those almanacs due to it containing a picture of 2015 Presidential Election competitor Mahinda Rajapaksa, he said.
Concluding the testimony of Kaluarachchi, Senior Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Pieris sought another date from the court to deliver the decision of the Attorney General on whether to proceed with the case.
Colombo High Court Judge Damith Thotawatta then fixed the case for November 11 to deliver the Attorney General’s decision regarding the case.
The Attorney General had filed indictments against the Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa and former Director General of Divi Neguma Department, Kithsiri Ranawaka in the Colombo High Court for allegedly printing five million almanacs with the image of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, at a cost of Rs. 29.4 million of funds belonging to the Divi Neguma Department, to be used as election propaganda material, during the January 2015 Presidential Election.The Attorney General alleged that printing these almanacs between November 23 and December 31, 2014, these accused had attempted to influence citizens of this country to vote for Presidential Candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The AG maintained that the act of the accused deems him guilty of the offence of bribery in accordance with Section 79 of the Presidential Election Act No. 15 of 1981.The two accused have been charged with misappropriation under the Public Property Act No. 12 of 1982. The AG had listed 32 people including Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya as witnesses in the case.Senior Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Pieris and Deputy Solicitor General Sudarshana Silva appeared on behalf of the Attorney General. President’s Counsel Gamini Marapana, Navin Marapana PC with Shavendra Fernando PC and Jayantha Weerasinghe, PC, appeared for the defence.