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POSTED AT 10:18 AM 08-03-2019

SC prevents Karannagoda’s arrest

Image Courtesy: News Radio

The Supreme Court yesterday issued an order directing the CID that former Navy Commander Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda should not be arrested and placed in custody over an investigation pertaining to disappearance of several youths in Colombo and its surburbs in 2008 and 2009.Supreme Court three-judge-bench comprising Justice Buwaneka Aluvihare, Justice Vijith Malalgoda and Justice Preethi Padman Surasena made this order pursuant to a Fundamental Rights petition filed by Admiral Karannagoda seeking an interim order preventing the CID from arresting him over an incident where several youths had been allegedly abducted and made to disappear from the Colombo suburbs in 2008 and 2009.

Meanwhile, the petitioner Karannagoda was directed to appear before CID on March 11 in order to record a statement pertaining to the allegations levelled against him. The petitioner was further ordered not to interfere with the witnesses in the case. The Supreme Court ordered the petitioner to be complied with the undertaking given by him that he would appear before High Court upon receiving notices.

Additional Solicitor General Viraj Dayaratne PC appearing for the Attorney General informed Court that investigations against Karannagoda have been concluded and indictments will be filed against him accordingly.

Dayaratne admitted the fact that there is no eyewitness to support abduction or murder charges against the petitioner. ‘There is no direct involvement by the petitioner for the abductions. But he was aware about the abductions did not take any action to prevent them’, Additional Solicitor General added.

President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva appearing for the petitioner told court that arrest cannot be made without reasonable grounds. ‘There is no absolute reason to arrest the petitioner. The NGOs are pressurizing to investigate against the petitioner on the eve of Geneva human rights issues’, Mr. Silva added.

In reply, Additional Solicitor General Dayaratne stated that Attorney General is not satisfying anyone and all are should be treated equally before irrespective of their positions. He further said that due process of the law needed to be followed based on the finding of the investigations. Admiral Karannagoda filed this petition through Attorney-at-law Sanath Wijewardane naming OIC Nishantha Silva of the Organised Crimes Investigation Unit at the CID, Police Chief Pujith Jayasundara, CID Director Shani Abeysekera, Attorney General and several others as respondents. The Petitioner states that he is a decorated former Commander of the Navy holding the rank of four-star Admiral and is the first and only Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy to hold the prestigious “four-star rank” whilst in active Naval service. The Petitioner said he was promoted to 4 star rank whilst in service for his contribution to the war effort.

The Petitioner states that it is common knowledge that he played a central and critical role in the defeat of terrorism in Sri Lanka, and that he was Commander of the Navy at the end of the war in 2009, for which he has received numerous plaudits and accolades.

The Petitioner states that on or about September 13, 2016, Lt.Cdr. Welagedara of the Sri Lanka Navy provided a false statement to IP Nishantha Silva at the CID, implicating the Petitioner and several others including Admiral Colombage, Capt. Dasanayake and Cdr. Ranasinghe, stating that these officers have threatened him with death. ‘On September 27, 2016, the 1st Respondent IP Nishantha Silva filed a “B” report at the Magistrate’s Court in Fort based on Lt. Cdr. Welagedara’s false statement. No attempt was made to check the veracity of the statement,although two weeks had lapsed after the complaint by Welagedara. On September 28, 2016, the 1st Respondent telephoned the Petitioner and requested him to record a statement’, the petitioner said. Apprehensive of the conduct of the 1st Respondent, the Petitioner informed the 1st Respondent that the President’s approval would be necessary before he proceeds to the CID. On September 30, the Petitioner was summoned in writing to appear at the CID on October 5 and 6, 2016 to provide a statement.

On October 5, 2016, the Petitioner appeared before the CID and the 1st Respondent, after recording a statement of the Petitioner, suggested that the recording be postponed to Friday October 7, 2016 instead of October 6 as originally intimated. The Petitioner initially agreed to attend the CID on Friday October 7, 2016. Thereafter, the Petitioner states that it was intimated to him that the Petitioner would be arrested on Friday, October 7, 2017.

Lakmal Sooriyagoda

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