If I am killed, those in high places should be held responsible- Fonseka

‘White Flag’ Trial-at-Bar
By Manopriya Gunasekera

Former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka this week told the High Court Trial-at-Bar that he had reliable information that there is a conspiracy to assassinate him and his family. Mr. Fonseka who concluded his dock statement in the ‘White Flag’ case this week said that in the event he was assassinated the President, the Defence Secretary and those responsible for jailing him should take responsibility.

Sarath Fonseka leaving courts last week

Mr. Fonseka is accused of having stated in an interview with The Sunday Leader newspaper that Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa had ordered not to spare any of the LTTE cadres surrendering even if they were coming with white flags during the last stages of the military assault on the guerrillas in May, 2009.

He is charged with having made a false statement to the newspaper, arousing communal and anti-government feelings among the public and creating disputes among them.

The Trial-at-Bar consists of Judges Deepali Wijesundara (President), W.T. M. P.B. Warawewa and M.S Razeen. Speaking further Mr. Fonseka said the Government was misleading the public saying it was providing security to his family while it was actually trying to harm them.

“I have been subjected to injustice in a country which Lord Buddha had visited thrice, but I have been able to gain the respect of the country and expect a decision which will set an example to the judiciary.
“I salute the public and the war heroes and my wife and children who have been a source of strength to me. “Through reliable information I received, I understand there are threats to my life. I have information that I may be assassinated inside the prison or while being taken from one place to another outside.
“Not only I, but even my wife and family members too, have been receiving death threats. When my wife and family members visited Siripada recently, the Government, in a surprising manner, had sent a team of police officers and soldiers for their security. They were very friendly. They said they were acting on instructions from Colombo, but they were not carrying weapons. This shows the Government, while trying to mislead the public that it is providing security, is placing my wife’s life under threat.

“During the Presidential election there was an attempt to arrest my son-in-law and kill him and thereby discourage me. This was based on information provided to us by the CID. Even after my arrest the threat to his life continues. That is the reason he is in hiding.

“Though I have been stripped of the post of General, the public still respect me, calling me General Sarath Fonseka. “I served my motherland without expecting any returns. My intention is to live without betraying my conscience. Mr. Fonseka concluded his dock statement.
Senior Defence Counsel Nalin Ladduwahetti (NL) leads evidence of Mr. Sukumar Rockwood (SR), of the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI).

NL: Did you hand over a file to Court on a Court Order containing the article and application form for an Award submitted by Ms. Frederica Jansz?
(Calls for the documents)
The Trial-at-Bar is told that the documents are not available as the Registrar is on leave.
The case is adjourned.

June 1 (Wednesday’s proceedings)
NL: Did you hand over a file to Court on a Court Order containing the article and Application Form for an Award submitted by Ms. Frederica Jansz?
SR: Yes.

NL: Thereafter, the legal firm, Paul Ratnayake Associates, wrote to the SLPI. When was that?
On November 11, 2010.

NL: What was it regarding?
It is a letter inquiring whether we are investigating a statement made by Ms. Frederica Jansz on November 11, 2010 that the Press Institute had provided a copy of her application to Mr. Ladduwahetti.

NL: Did you institute an inquiry into it?
On November 11, 2010 the SLPI Chairman replied to Paul Ratnayake Associates stating that no documents were given to Mr. Ladduwahetti, and neither is there any inquiry into the matter.
Mr. Sukumar Rockwood (SR) is cross examined by Deputy Solicitor General Buwaneka Aluvihare (DSG)

DSG: Are you responsible for accepting complaints at the SLPI?
Yes. The Press Complaints Commission of Sri Lanka accepts them.

DSG: Can you explain the structure of the SLPI?
The Sri Lanka Press Institute, the Sri Lanka College of Journalism and the Press Complaints Commission of Sri Lanka are the outcome of the Colombo Declaration (on Media Freedom and Social Responsibility) of 1998. The Press Complaints Commission of Si Lanka must not be confused with the Press Council of Sri Lanka which is a different entity altogether.

DSG: Is the Press Complaints Commission of Sri Lanka a part of the SLPI?

DSG: Is the SLPI a non-governmental organization?

DSG: From where do its finances come?
Seventy per cent of the funding comes from Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

DSG: The document marked P 13 is an application made by Ms. Frederica Jansz. For which year’s Journalism Awards was this?
It is an application submitted by Ms. Jansz for the Scoop of the Year Award category at the Journalism Awards for Excellence 2009.

DSG: Who got the award in 2008?
SR: I don’t have that information now. Had the Court instructed me, I would have brought that information.

DSG: Who won the award in 2009?
I do not have that information now. Had the Court instructed me, I would have brought that information.

DSG: For what category of awards has the application marked P 13 been submitted?
For the Scoop of the Year Award.

DSG: Do you remember who won the 2009 award?
I do not remember. If the Court had ordered me to bring that information I could have brought it.

DSG: According to the 2008 souvenir the Co-Chairmen of the Awards programme that year were Mr. Sinha Ratnatunga and Mr. Kumar Nadesan.

DSG: Do you accept that Mr. Ratnatunga is the Editor of the Sunday Times?

DSG: What happens to the entries after the judging process is over?
The winning entries are sealed in an envelope and locked inside a cupboard.

DSG: Are those entries which do not win awards also sealed?
They are bundled together and sealed and locked inside a cupboard.

DSG: Don’t you believe that it is important to maintain the credibility of the SLPI?
That question does not arise as the Sri Lanka Press Institute is a credible organization.

DSG: Is it important also to have transparency at the Press Institute for such an awards ceremony?
Regarding transparency, I have to say that such applications are referred to a Judges’ Panel which selects the winners.

DSG: Doesn’t the public have the right to find out how the awards were given?
Yes, but only after getting written permission from the Panel of Judges and that too after the Awards Night.

DSG: Is there a possibility of applying and getting a copy of the winning application?
Yes. It will have to be in writing to the Panel of Judges and again after the Awards Night.
(Cross examination of Mr. Rockwood ends)

At this stage DSG Aluvihare objected to the summoning of the Supreme Court Registrar R. Ranawaka and the Colombo High Court Deputy Registrar Chamikara Perera to produce two case records, saying that an explanation should be given on what grounds they are being summoned.

NL: The 18th witness in the case (IP Anura Silva) is a CID officer who conducted this investigation. He replaced an ASP who was handling this investigation.

When I cross examined him, I asked him about a case in the Supreme Court. I needed to find out whether his statements were accurate. The Court can decide on that. The Court should decide whether he had done the inquiry in a manner whereby he would get some personal benefit and whether the evidence can be accepted. Therefore, this would help the Court. This is regarding a Supreme Court decision.

If false evidence is given to Court, his evidence cannot be accepted and also, action can be instituted against him. This request to produce these rulings was not with the intention of being disrespectful to the Supreme Court ruling, but to ensure that the evidence is in keeping with the Evidence Ordinance.

Next hearing is on June 6.

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