Daily News Editorial
With the independence of the judicial and police services being gradually restored after the new government took office, two significant developments took place this week.
In one case, the widely-reported killing of Sunday Leader newspaper editor Lasantha Wickrematunga on January 8, 2009 took a dramatic turn on Thursday when the Criminal Investigation Department informed the Mount Lavinia Magistrate it had obtained substantial evidence that the investigative journalist was killed by two men attached to the Army Intelligence Unit. CID inspector Nishantha Silva made this statement to Magistrate Mohammad Sahabdeen while presenting the investigative reports on an Army intelligence man who had been arrested on charges of abducting and detaining the chauffeur who drove Mr. Wickramatunge’s vehicle at the time of his killing. Earlier, the CID had claimed in court that the Army’s Intelligence Unit was not providing the information requested to peruse the case.
As Commander in chief of the armed forces, President Maithripala Sirisena has assured that legal action would be taken against any military person who had broken the law but he pledged that the dignity and integrity of the military as a whole would be upheld by the national government. To achieve this vision of portraying the correct picture of the armed forces which defeated the most ruthless terrorist movement in the world, there are many appeals that similar action be taken against the few who had breached the well-respected military discipline and broken the law of the land. As the government has said this would be the best way of protecting the status and dignity of the military. The President has also appealed to the public not to take undue political advantage or stir up racial or religious tension because the proper legal action was taken against a few military personnel who allegedly broke the law.
In the other case, the Avissawella High Court Judge yesterday convicted and sentenced to death 18 of the 21 accused who were charged with the murder of Noori Estate Manager Nihal Perera. The murder was committed in 2013 but the trial began only on February 24, 2015 after the new government took office. The main accused convicted on murder charges and sentenced to death yesterday was the Deraniyagala Pradeshiya Sabha’s former Chairman Anil Champika alias ‘Atha Kota’. Mr. Perera’s brutal murder came in the aftermath of the horror in the Noori village where a gang reportedly backed by an area politicians of the former regime allegedly tortured and raped scores of
women and girls.
According to the people of the village, it was not a horror movie but a real life agony. A gang alleged to be operating with the backing of an area politician ran a “rape centre” and torture chamber. They allegedly burnt people’s houses and businesses. Parents were forced to hide their daughters, brothers were protecting their sisters: praying that they would not be the next victims while the Police allegedly did not take notice of their complaints. Eventually, the Police Special Task Force was sent to the area because the people were apparently afraid to give evidence to the Deraniyagala police, some of whom were suspected to be covering up for the rapists and killers. Ultimately, after the new government took over, the investigations were continued by the CID.
We hope that as in this case the rule of law would be upheld in other cases also with the judiciary and the police being given full independence so that the country could say fiat justitia or let there be justice.