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White Van case: AG directed to submit report on persons influencing witnesses

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Law & Order

Colombo High Court Judge Damith Thotawatte yesterday directed the Attorney General to submit a detailed report on the persons influencing witnesses in the case filed against two persons, including former Minister Rajitha Senaratne.

This is in connection with the controversial white van press conference held on November 10, 2019.

The Court issued the order after considering the statements made by the counsel of the two main witnesses in the case that witnesses were being prevented from appearing in court over the case. Witnesses Sarath Kumara and Athula Sanjeewa Madanayake, who had been holding the white van press conference in disguise, had stated that they had been threatened and they did not appear before the court yesterday.

When the case was taken up before Court yesterday, President’s Counsel Maithree Gunarathne appearing for Senarathne, raised preliminary objections stating that the Attorney General could not pursue the charges against the accused.

“President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is said to be the main victim of this white van media briefing. However, Gotabaya Rajapaksa has so far not lodged any complaint that he had any prejudice from it.According to the Penal Code, the Attorney General is not able to proceed with this case without a complaint or evidence from the victim.If he or she has been harmed, he or she should report it. It is a tragedy that the Attorney General has filed such a case without such a complaint. According to the constitution of this country there is no obstacle to hold a press conference and express one’s views”, he said.

After considering the preliminary objection, High Court Judge Damith Thotawatte fixed the case for May 9, directing the Attorney General to respond to the preliminary objections.

Attorney General Dappula De Livera had filed indictments comprising 14 charges of conspiracy and aiding and abetting under sections 190, 169 (G) of the Penal Code and Section 80 of the Presidential Election Act against Minister Rajitha Senaratne and former chairman of the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation Mohammad Rumi in the Colombo High Court in connection with the controversial White Van Press Conference.

Sakalavalli Arachchige Sarath Kumara and Watareka Gamage Athula Sanjeewa Madanayake who were named as the first and second suspects in the case before the Colombo Magistrate’s Court have been released from the charges and they were named as prosecution witnesses in the indictment.

Minister Rajitha Senaratne was arrested in connection with organizing the white van press conference on November 10 ahead of the Presidential election 2019.

He was later released on two sureties of Rs.500,000 by Colombo Chief Magistrate Lanka Jayarathne. In her bail order, the Chief Magistrate observed that according to the Criminal Procedure Code, the charges leveled against former minister Senaratne were bailable offences.

Former State Pharmaceuticals Corporation Chairman Mohommed Rumi Mohommed Azeem and two other individuals, namely Sakalawalli Arachchige Sarath Kumara and Athula Sanjeewa Madanayake, who had allegedly been involved in the incident, were also released on bail.


Wednesday, March 16, 2022 – 01:03

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