July 01, Colombo: Former Solicitor General Suhada Gamlath says that during the Good Governance regime, then Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka had told him to arrest Gotabhaya Rajapaksa if there is evidence in connection with the Avant Garde incident.
Testifying before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating political victimization under the last government Tuesday (June 30), former Solicitor General said the former Minister made this statement outside the Temple Trees after a meeting.
The Presidential Commission of Inquiry investigating the incident of political victimization has issued summons on 18 individuals including former ministers over a complaint lodged by Chairman of Avant-Garde Maritime Security Services Nissanka Senadhipathi.
The former Solicitor General told the Commission that on a number of occasions during the previous regime, government officials were summoned to Temple Trees and inquired into the cases being heard.
Noting that this tradition is not appropriate, Gamlath pointed out that especially officials of the Attorney General's Department should not be called before the politicians and questioned about ongoing cases
However, during the previous regime, several such meetings were held under the patronage of former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and with the participation of state officials.
Citing an example, Gamlath said at one time when he was attending a wedding reception of a daughter of a high court judge, Attorney-at-law Upul Jayasuriya telephoned saying that former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was waiting for him.
Accordingly, when he arrived at the scene, he saw that there was a large meeting and he was inquired about the Avant Garde case.
At the time, former Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka banged the table where he was sitting and said that an officer had helped a person involved in the Avant Garde incident to go abroad.
Mr. Gamlath said that the Attorney General had also informed him about the discussion and Arjun Mahendran was also present at the meeting. He also noted that security chiefs, officials of the Bribery Commission and other officials were present at these discussions.
Mr. Gamlath pointed out that the process of prosecuting the officials of the Attorney General's Department before politicians is wrong.
There were several opinions on the Avant Garde case, and the Attorney General’s opinion was that it could not be brought to trial.
At another occasion, after a ceremony to mark the departure of the British High Commissioner, former Minister Ravi Karunanayake also questioned him about the case, Mr. Gamlath said. He had avoided responding saying he was not fit to make such an inquiry at the time and that the former Minister appeared to be annoyed. Later the former Minister scolded him in the parliament, the former state lawyer said.
Former Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka and former Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake also appeared before the Commission yesterday.
The three-member Commission is chaired by retired Supreme Court Judge Upali Abeyratne and comprises Retired Appeal Court Judge Daya Chandrasiri Jayatilleka and Retired IGP Chandra Fernando as members.
Chairman of Avant-Garde Nissanka Senadhipathi had lodged a complaint with the Presidential Commission alleging that Avant-Garde Maritime Security Services incurred massive losses due to the arbitrary takeover of his company by the previous government.
Eighteen parties including former ministers Wijedasa Rajapakshe, Patali Champika Ranawaka, Rajitha Senaratne, Arjuna Ranatunga, and former MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake, have been asked to appear before the Presidential Commission on 17 June. In addition, former Navy Commander Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne, former Solicitor General Suhada Gamlath, former Solicitor General President’s Counsel Dilrukshi Dias Wickremasinghe, former Director of the CID Shani Abeysekara, Inspector Aluthge Senarath, ASP Lasantha Ratnayake and Wasantha Nawaratne Bandara, Retired DIG SAD Gunawardena, Lieutenant Commander WHP. Weerasinghe, Rear Admiral Nilantha Heenatigala, President’s Council Upul Jayasuriya, Former OIC of Galle Harbor Police Inspector Induka de Silva and Senior State Counsel Janaka Bandara have been summoned.