Dismissing allegations of political interference in granting bail and releasing suspects in high profile cases, Attorney General Palitha Fernando said there had not been a single instance of political interference and that the AG’s department was only acting on “the evidence, not on suspicion or assumption”.
With reference to the recent court decisions based on the advice of the AG regarding the suspects in the Kahawatha killing, the Hasitha Madawala killing and the acquittal of Malaka Silva and Rehan Fernando, he said that in all instances the officials of the department were guided by the evidence presented.
Referring to the release of one of the accused of the Kotakethenna double killing, the AG said there was no political pressure and that the son of the Pradeshiya Sabha member was convicted on charges of carrying narcotics.
“It is the Police who investigate the cases and we act on what is presented to us. In the case of Dharmasiri it was clear that there was no evidence to connect him to the killing. He was in Dondra on the day of the killing and there was suspicion because he was reportedly not in good terms with the two females who were killed after his son was arrested for carrying narcotics and the accused are this person’s brother and sister-in-law. If there is political connection how could this be,” he asked.
Mr. Fernando said a special prosecutor would be appointed since the department had necessary evidence to indict the two who were accused of the killings.
He said the Minister Mervyn Silva’s two secretaries turned crown witnesses and were granted bail theyhad no connection to the crime.
“All they were accused of was providing shelter and guarding the accused after he confessed to the killing. Sri Lankan law does not recognize ‘abetment’ as an offence after committing a crime. It should either before or while the crime is being committed. What better evidence do we have other than the two people to whom the accused had confessed to? This was the rationale in making them state witnesses” he said.
Mr. Fernando said in the case of the acquittal of Malaka Silva and five others, the prosecution could only use the video evidence as corroborative evidence and in the absence of a witness, the case was not on good ground.
“Video evidence can only be used as corroborative evidence. For whatever reason if the injured party in a sworn affidavit tells court that there was no incident then there is nothing more that we can do because there are no witnesses. The evidence ordinance which we are governed by is very clear on this,” he said.
Mr. Fernando said each official in the department were guided by their conscience.
“We have a conscience; all of us are men of integrity. We don’t discharge a person on a call from a politician and I can say without an iota of doubt that there has never been any sort of interference into the work of our department,” he said and added that rumours to the effect that he had signed an undated letter of resignation were a fabrication.
“Never for a moment have I done so. I have been in this profession for 34 years and there is nothing more for me to achieve, therefore I will do my duty towards the public of the country with utmost dignity and perseverance” he said. (Hafeel Farisz)