Written by Hassaan Shazuli
22 Sep, 2020 | 3:44 pm
Colombo (News 1st); The presidential commission probing last year’s April 21st attacks said it would issue an order tomorrow on a statement issued by former president Maithripala Sirisena recently.
This was after the filing of submissions concluded during today’s sitting.
Former president Maithripala Sirisena had issued a statement refuting accusations made against him by former defence secretary Hemasiri Fernando at the commission last week.
Attorney-at-law Dilshan Jayasuriya appearing for the witness argued that the statement has undermined the authority of the commission and has instilled fear in his client.
Accordingly, he requested the commission to take legal action against the former president and his private secretary under whose signatory the statement had been issued.
However, President’s Counsel Maithri Gunaratne appearing for the former president today argued that his client has the right to freedom of speech.
He pointed out that the former president had issued the statement to reveal the truth to the country, and not to degrade the commission or intimidate the witness.
The counsel added that the Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, had also issued a statement recently refuting certain remarks made by former minister Harin Fernando at the commission.
However, additional solicitor general Ayesha Jinasena, appearing for the Attorney General’s department that is leading the evidence, argued that that the statement had been issued in violation of two acts.
She insisted that the statement had been issued in violation of the Assistance to and Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses Act and also the Commissions of Inquiry Act.
The additional solicitor general argued that issuing a statement refuting evidence given before the investigators, can instill fear in the witness, and is a disrespect to the commission.
She also pointed out that it is unacceptable to issue a statement when the commission has allowed lawyers to cross-examine the witness.
Presidents Counsel Maithri Gunaratne said his client would be willing to remove the statement that had been published on the Facebook page of the former president if it has offended the commission.
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