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Gamage: UK intervened in Navy abductions case Many an eyebrow raised over revelation BHC wrote to Magistrate

thilina gamage

(Courtesy of The Island)

Alleging that the Attorney General Department and the Criminal Investigation Department had unduly interfered in some high profile cases handled by him, former Chief Colombo Magistrate Thilina Gamage, on Wednesday (4), told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (P CoI) inquiring into cases of political victimisation, the British High Commission had intervened in the Navy abductions case.

The Commission consists of retired Supreme Court Judge Upali Abeyratne, retired Court of Appeal Judge Daya Chandrasiri Jayatilake and one-time IGP Chandra Fernando.

The interdicted Magistrate said that he had received unsolicited advice from the British High Commissioner in Colombo by way of a letter as regards a particular case before him.

Gamage was referring to the case regarding the alleged Navy involvement in some wartime abductions in Colombo and its suburbs.

Among those indicted in connection with 11 abductions are wartime Navy Chief the then Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda and the then Navy Spokesman Captain D. K. P. Dassanayake.

Gamage has been indicted in the High Court over the illegal possession of an elephant calf named ‘Sakura.’

Gamage told the PCoI that the British High Commission had instructed him on how to handle the alleged Navy abductions case. The interdicted Magistrate revealed that he had written back to the High Commissioner reminding the envoy Sri Lanka was no longer a British colony and such advice was not required.

Gamage told the PCoI that he had been sacked and subsequently indicted in Colombo High Court over alleged illegal possession of ‘ Sakura.’ Karannagoda and Dassanayake, now, Admiral of the Fleet and Rear Admiral, respectively, too, sought redress through the intervention of the PCoI.

Gamage told the PCoI that the then Ministers, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne and P. Harrison as well as members of the JVP had flayed him in Parliament as they took offence at the way he handled cases. Gamage also claimed that a section of the civil society, too, had attacked him.

Earlier, Gamage said that the then Chief Justice K. Sripavan had been under pressure to remove him. Subsequently, Gamage received a transfer from the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court to Hulftsdorp, where he heard a case involving the then President Maithripala Sirisena and a child. Gamage said that action had been initiated against him soon after he had called for a DNA test on the child.

According to Gamage, his troubles started soon after the case against one-time UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake was taken up before him.

The police initiated action against Attanayake for producing a forged document on an alleged secret agreement between UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and the then common Opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena in the run-up to January 2015 presidential poll.

Gamage told the PCoI, the AG Department and CID personnel told him that the then Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was very keen on the case.

Gamage alleged that the government had reacted angrily when he gave bail to Attanayake as evidence was insufficient.

The PCoI was also told how the AG’s Department and police investigators had harassed Gamage for the latter’s refusal to fall in line.

Gamage’s revelation as regards diplomatic intervention in the high profile Navy abductions case needed to be closely examined against the backdrop of a section of the previous government cooperating with Western efforts to haul Sri Lanka up before foreign judges, former Navy Chief of Staff Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera told The Island.

Weerasekera pointed out that those who had enacted much touted 19th Amendment to the Constitution to end political interference in judiciary allowed foreign missions to intervene in the Sri Lankan judiciary. Weerasekera was the only lawmaker to vote against the 19th Amendment in early 2015.

Appearing before the PCoI on the day before Gamage, Rear Admiral Dassanayake alleged that the pro-LTTE groups operating overseas had been also involved in six cases against Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Their bid was to hinder wartime Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s political journey, Dassanayake said, adding that the alleged Navy abduction case was among the ones used against Rajapaksa. In addition to the case involving the Navy personnel, Dassanayake mentioned the disappearance of Prageeth Elneligoda on the eve of January 26, 2010 presidential election, abduction and assault on Deputy Editor of The Nation Keith Noyahr on May 22, 2008, the assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunga on January 08, 2009, the attack on Rivira Editor Upali Tennakoon on January 23, 2009 and the incidents inside the Welikada prison on Nov 09, 2012.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

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