Ahimsa rebuts Gota’s attempt to block Lasantha murder case

5 September 2019 09:18 am - 14     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Attorneys for Ahimsa Wickrematunge have filed papers opposing the attempt by SLPP presidential hopeful Gotabaya Rajapaksa to halt the case filed against him in California on the alleged extrajudicial killing of her father, The Sunday Leader founding editor-in-chief Lasantha Wickrematunge.

Last week, Mr. Rajapaksa had asked the US District Court for the Central District of California – where the civil lawsuit was filed – to stay the case until the conclusion of the Sri Lankan presidential election in which he hopes to be a candidate.

In a motion filed in court last Monday (26), Mr. Rajapaksa’s lawyers claimed that; “In the intensity of an election campaign, every action by the court or parties in the case will be disseminated, amplified and potentially distorted in ways that are beyond this court’s control. The court could find itself a major factor in a foreign election, potentially even influencing its outcome.”

The former Defence Secretary’s lawyers told the court that Mr. Rajapaksa was likely to win the election and that if he won, the case would have to be dismissed because he would be immune to prosecution as a foreign head of state. He said having to fight the case would distract him from the campaign “on which he would spend virtually every waking hour.”

Responding yesterday, Ms. Wickrematunge’s lawyers claimed that Mr. Rajapaksa “would suffer no harm unless several contingencies were resolved in his favour – including but not limited to becoming an official presidential nominee; surviving potential challenges based on his US citizenship, other constitutional challenges and investigations of complaints lodged with the Elections Commission currently pending in Sri Lanka.”

“In contrast,” the filing continued, the harm to Ahimsa Wickrematunge “was rooted in her well-founded interest in timely justice and accountability for the savage torture and murder of her father, and her continued exposure to ongoing and future harm by bringing a case against a powerful public figure in Sri Lanka known for the brutality of his tactics against perceived enemies.”

She said Mr. Rajapaksa’s proposal that he may soon enjoy immunity from prosecution was “wholly speculative, not least because it depended on whether he was in fact elected as Sri Lanka’s President, itself subject to many contingencies – including becoming an official nominee, overcoming potential challenges to his candidacy based on his US citizenship and other constitutional challenges as well as investigations of complaints lodged against him with the Elections Commission currently pending in Sri Lanka, actually winning the election,” and thereafter getting a suggestion of immunity from the US Government.

Ms. Wickrematunge referred to an interview in April in which Mr. Rajapaksa declared his candidacy “in the wake of the Easter bombings,” and dismissed the California case as only “a little distraction.” “As recently as September 1, Mr. Rajapaksa’s spokesperson again rejected any suggestion that this case could interfere with the campaign, insisting ‘it was never mentioned that this case was a disadvantage to the election campaign.’ ”

She said stopping the case “would create a ‘fair possibility of harm’ to the public interest and free and independent press, which Mr. Wickrematunge’s litigation seeks to protect and which is the object of Mr. Rajapaksa’s wider conspiracy and attack.”

“At this time, Mr. Rajapaksa is already facing pending criminal charges” in Sri Lanka, Ahimsa said. “Sri Lanka has not stayed the proceedings against Mr. Rajapaksa simply because he has announced his candidacy in the presidential election.”

She also warned that a stay order would delay the court ruling on her request for “an injunction prohibiting Mr. Rajapaksa from interfering with any criminal investigation involving the late Lasantha Wickrematunge.” (Nirmala Kannangara)

  Comments - 14

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  • Tuan Thursday, 05 September 2019 09:30 AM

    US government is bribed if this case gets a staying order till elections

    Gune Thursday, 05 September 2019 09:32 AM

    No court is above God. He will be judged one day. He has no escape.

    Hawkeye Thursday, 05 September 2019 09:56 AM

    Pray ... tell us befuddled mortals, just where was this young lady during the last 4.5 years. Specially when Gota was residing in the good old USA ? Hiding beneath a rock in the bottom of the Mariana Trench ? Just how naive does she [and her turncoats] think we are ?

    Lord Wolfstein Thursday, 05 September 2019 10:03 AM

    Here it shows that the great "war hero" is nothing more than a little coward. Gota may be able to influence the judiciary in Sri Lanka, but not a US judge who does not care if a doubtless murderer wants to become a dictatorial president in a third world country.

    smartgent Thursday, 05 September 2019 10:09 AM

    The US courts have to be fair to Ms. Ahimsa Weeratunga as it is a known fact that Gota was directly involved in the murder of Lasantha and the evidence shows that on his instructions the armed forces had carried out his murder. He should not be allowed to go scot-free. Even the cases against him filed in SL courts should be expedited and Sri Lankans do not want this guy to be elected as its President considering his atrocities during the last regime.

    asela Thursday, 05 September 2019 10:14 AM

    Your father died decades ago. Why you are shedding crocodile tears now. Your father helped LTTE to kill thousands and thousands of innocent civilians.

    Shocked Thursday, 05 September 2019 03:01 PM

    Dont be such an ass. So what if her father died over 10 years ago. She was a teenager then. Pain of loosing a parent never goes away. What kind of a monster are you?

    ANTON Thursday, 05 September 2019 10:21 AM


    Ronnie Bugger Thursday, 05 September 2019 10:40 AM

    During Hitler's time, he created the dreaded Gestapo, a wing of the SS or Schultz Starffel in Germany or in plain language, the secret police. What we are probably witnessing is a recreation of that infamous murder squad if Gota alias Gotapo is brought into power.

    Thilak Thursday, 05 September 2019 01:04 PM

    Put him behind bars already, why is he allowed to roam freely?

    Thilak Thursday, 05 September 2019 01:04 PM

    Put him behind bars already, why is he allowed to roam freely?

    Goodie Thursday, 05 September 2019 03:22 PM

    Ha Ha... After all these years?

    dhammika perera Friday, 06 September 2019 12:06 AM

    Great opportunity for USA to play with Gota as a puppet.

    Cobra Friday, 06 September 2019 06:18 AM

    Lankawe ehema kolath americawe ehema kerenne nehe!!!

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