Considering a Writ application, the Court of Appeal today gave an interim order staying the ongoing proceedings of the trial at bar in the Colombo High Court against Admiral of the Fleet Wasantha Karannagoda, until the final hearing and determination of the Writ application.
The Attorney General in January filed indictments against 14 accused including Former Navy Commander Admiral of the Fleet Wasantha Karannagoda over the abduction and enforced disappearance of 11 youth between 2008 - 2009 and later a trial at bar was appointed by the Chief Justice to conduct the proceedings.
The Bench comprising Justice A.H.M.D Nawaz and Justice Sobhitha Rajakaruna gave this interim order after considering the initial submissions made by the counsel who appeared for both petitioner (Karannagoda) and respondent (the Attorney General).
The Bench also fixed July 22, 2020 for objections to be filed in relation with the application.
Romesh de Silva PC appearing for Petitioner Karannagoda said that there was no iota of evidence whatsoever to charge his client of an offence, and that the entire investigation of the Petitioner conducted by CID officer Nishantha Silva, who escaped to Switzerland recently, was characterised by malice and was motivated by improper considerations including political considerations.
He also stated that in the circumstances, the Petitioner’s right to fair trial has been irrevocably violated and that he could not have a fair trial in this matter.
Mr. De Silva also said that for the first time in the history of the Country a team of UN delegation was taken inside the Naval Base of Trincomalee by the said Nishantha Silva with the Patronage of the then Government and exhibited a sealed alleged crime scene by re-opening the seals with the help of a Court Order and further manipulated a situation at the same time where the members of the said delegation were tempted to believe that certain bones that were found therein were human bones which later proven to be false as they were found to be of an animal.
From the time the said Nishantha Silva took over the investigations after the change of the Government in January 2015, there were many attempts to usurp and exploit the subject matter of the investigation to tarnish the good name of the Sri Lanka Navy, and that these matters were given wide publicity in the local and international media, Mr. De Silva said.
However, Additional Solicitor General Sarath Jayamanne PC who appeared on behalf of the AG told the Court that the interim order should not be given to the petitioner as he (Karannagoda) has not complied with the High Court summons so far and has not appeared in court obeying the court orders.
Hence, such interim relief should be given to a person who comes to court with clean hands, said the ASG. He also said that this trial at bar was appointed by the Chief Justice on the request by the AG and if the court stayed these proceedings giving an interim order, the public confidence on the Judiciary may start to decline as well.
In this Writ application, the Petitioner has also sought the Court of Appeal to give a final order in the nature of a writ of certiorari quashing the decision of the AG to indict the Petitioner in the High Court at Bar and quashing all the charges levelled against and in respect of the Petitioner as contained in the indictment.
Romesh De Silva PC with Sugath Caldera and Niran Ankatel instructed by Sanath Wijrwardane appeared for the Petitioner, while Senior Additional Solicitor General Sarath Jayamanna PC appeared on behalf of the AG. (Shehan Chamika Silva)