Ahimsa to challenge US District Court verdict

23 October 2019 12:20 am - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Lasantha Wickrematunge’s killing

There is no immunity when govt officials act outside their authority to torture or murder anyone

 

By Nirmala Kannangara   

Ahimsa Wickrematunge, daughter of Sunday Leader Newspaper’s slain Editor-in-Chief  Lasantha Wickrematunge is to challenge the verdict delivered by the United States District Court for the Central District of California in the lawsuit filed against the former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa on the extrajudicial killing of her father.  

The court delivered its verdict on Monday, October 22 claiming that Rajapaksa is entitled to common law foreign official immunity for the acts that are alleged -- acts of torture, extrajudicial killings and crimes against humanity.   

 

  • An end to impunity is precisely what the Torture Victim Protection Act was designed to provide in cases like this
  • Ahimsa said security forces under Rajapaksa’s command and control engaged in a widespread and systematic campaign against journalists


The reason for the Court to dismiss the case was that it lacks the jurisdiction to consider Ahimsa’s claim as ‘Rajapaksa is entitled to common law foreign official immunity for the acts that are alleged -- acts of torture, extrajudicial killing, and crimes against humanity. The Court found that these acts were committed in his official capacity as Sri Lanka’s Secretary of Defense and the Court has not made any finding on the actual merits of the allegations against Rajapaksa, which includes his alleged responsibility for the extrajudicial killing of the plaintiff’s father and for the Sri Lankan government’s campaign of violence against journalists during the civil war’.  However, Ahimsa Wickrematunge told Daily Mirror that her counsel will appeal against this judgement in the next few days and added that it was disappointing that those who were involved in her father’s murder were now roaming free but that she and her counsel would ensure that the perpetrators did not escape justice.  


“An end to impunity is precisely what the Torture Victim Protection Act was designed to provide in cases like this. There is no immunity when government officials act outside their authority to torture or murder anyone. Rajapaksa, must be held accountable in US courts,” Ahimsa said.   


In her application to court she has stated that the reason for her to file the lawsuit against Rajapaksa in the US Court was because all her efforts to seek justice in Sri Lanka had failed as the then Defence Secretary and his allies obstructed the cases by tampering with witnesses and engaging in a pattern of coercion and intimidation. 

 

  • She further states that Rajapaksa as the then Defence Secretary ordered her father’s arrest and filed a defamation suit against him
  • Immediately before he was due to testify against the defendant, regarding an alleged corruption scandal, Lasantha Wickrematunge was brutally murdered


Ahimsa said security forces under Rajapaksa’s command and control engaged in a widespread and systematic campaign against journalists, marked by a pattern and practice of violations including but not limited to extrajudicial killing; arbitrary detention; torture; and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in an effort to stamp out criticism of the Rajapaksa government.   
In her application she further states that Rajapaksa as the then Defence Secretary ordered her father’s arrest and filed a defamation suit against him and that intelligence services under Rajapaksa’s command began monitoring Lasantha Wickrematunge’s mobile telephone. Immediately before he was due to testify against the defendant, regarding an alleged corruption scandal, Lasantha Wickrematunge was brutally murdered in broad daylight.   

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  Comments - 1

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  • Raja Senanayake Friday, 01 November 2019 11:29 AM

    I dont know about the merits of har case but Ahimsa Wickrematunge is a brave and courageous lady to be admired by our womenfolk


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