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POSTED AT 09:03 AM 09-04-2019


Former Defence Secretary and Presidential aspirant Gotabaya Rajapaksa has been summoned to face civil charges of torture and extra-judicial killing by the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Daily News learns.

According to unconfirmed reports circulated yesterday on social media platforms, a case accusing Rajapaksa of the extra-judicial killing of senior journalist Lasantha Wickremetunga was filed by the slain editor’s daughter Ahimsa Wickrematunge, through San Francisco-based impact litigation organisation The Centre for Justice and Accountability (CJA).

However, neither Wickrematunge nor CJA have made themselves available for comment, nor issued a statement authenticating the case.

There was no evidence of such a case being filed against Rajapaksa by Wickrematunge evident in the public records of the District Court in California, a US official said. A relative of the former Defence Secretary however confirmed that he has been “informed” of a case against him filed by Ahimsa Wickremetunge.

Meanwhile, a statement released by the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) yesterday confirmed that a case alleging torture against Gotabaya Rajapaksa was filed by attorneys for that organisation on behalf of Canadian citizen and torture survivor Roy Samathanam, who alleges that he was tortured by the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) and forced to sign a false confession.

The statement by ITJP said that Rajapaksa was served notice of the torture case by court officials at a supermarket car park in California. “Notice was also served at the same time in a seperate case filed by another organisation on behalf of assasinated journalist Lasantha Wickrematunga,” the statement said.

Rajapaksa has been extensively questioned by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge and the abduction and torture of Keith Noyahr, although he has not been named a suspect by police in either criminal investigation to-date. The CID has, however, informed the Mount Lavinia Magistrates Court that the Tripoli Team of the Directorate of Military Intelligence was operated by the Ministry of Defence, bypassing the army command structure.

Ahimsa Wickrematunge has been a vocal advocate campaigning for justice in her father’s killing. Last year she lobbied vigorously and successfully to reverse the decision by IGP Pujith Jayasundera to transfer senior CID detective Nishantha Silva out of the CID to a rural province.

This January, to mark the ten-year anniversary of her father’s assassination, she authored an incisive and emotional summary of the events leading to her father’s death and the steps taken by the Rajapaksa government to cover up the killing.