- If they are guilty, they should be punished
Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday said the Constitution does not give power to any politician, priests or social media platforms to decide who is guilty or innocent of any crime, including terrorism.
In a lengthy statement issued to the media under the title “The Cardinal Truth”, Minister Samaraweera said every elected and appointed official in Sri Lanka has sworn an oath to uphold and defend such a Constitution.
“Deciding who is guilty or innocent of any crime is a sacred duty left to our judges, after a police investigation and fair trial. In a country with such a proud tradition of justice, where all citizens were once entitled to be considered innocent until proven guilty, people including a cabinet minister have been declared guilty without evidence, and the police have literally invited public complaints against these targeted four individuals in order to find them guilty of something – anything. Racists and xenophobes have hijacked our justice system and literally turned it upside down,” he said.
He said if Rishad Bathiudeen or anyone else has committed a crime, there is a process for a criminal investigation to commence, for evidence against them to be presented before courts and for justice to take its course.
“If they are guilty, they should be punished. Especially in the current context, our police and security forces have unprecedented autonomy to investigate and prosecute anyone remotely connected to these attacks. But never in the history of our country have people first been declared guilty by the press and in Parliament, only to thereafter have the police call for evidence that they may have committed a crime. Everyone should know how Bathiudeen earned the ire of the SLPP and its minions among the media and the clergy. When they tried to illegally overthrow the government last October 26, they pleaded with Bathiudeen to join their government by bribing him and threatening him. But Bathiudeen refused to support an illegal government. Mark my words, had he supported Mahinda Rajapaksa in Parliament last year, there would not have been a no-confidence motion against him,” he said.