On Sunday, former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa was served with notice of two separate civil lawsuits against him in California, USA, over the assassination of journalist Lasantha Wickrematunga as well as on behalf of a Tamil torture survivor.
According to reports, one case was filed in the courts of Los Angeles, California, by Ahimsa Wickremetunga - the daughter of the slain editor Lasantha - requesting a jury trial and compensation. The second case was filed by the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) and the American law firm Hausfield on behalf of Tamil torture survivor Roy Samathanam.
“Notice was formally served on Mr. Rajapaksa on Sunday night at a Trader Joe’s parking lot in Pasadena. This was after the ITJP and Hausfeld hired private investigators to track down the whereabouts of Mr Rajapaksa who is currently on holiday in California. Notice was also served at the same time in a separate case filed by another organisation on behalf of assassinated journalist Lasantha Wickrematunga,” the ITJP said in a media release.
The statement also said that “Roy Samathanam, who is a Canadian national, was detained in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo in September 2007 by the Terrorism Investigation Division of the Sri Lanka police, who reported directly to Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Roy Samathanam was physically and psychologically tortured and forced to sign a false confession before being released in August 2010 on a plea deal and payment of a fine. In 2016, Mr. Samathanam won a UN human rights committee case but Sri Lanka has failed to abide by the compensation ruling.”
“Mr Rajapaksa has to give up his US citizenship to be able to stand in presidential elections, so this is probably the last chance for a long time to begin to hold him accountable,” said ITJP’s executive director Yasmin Sooka. “We hope other survivors of torture will join the suit and make this a class action,” the statement said quoting Sooka. (Sheain Fernandopulle)