Colombo, January 25 (The New Indian Express):: A plea by the wife of the assassinated Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP, Nadarajah Raviraj, that the case should be sent for retrial under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and not under ordinary law, would be heard by the Court of Appeal on March 3.
Raviraj, TNA MP from Jaffna district, was assassinated in 2006 by gunmen on a motorbike while he was driving to his office in the morning.
M.A.Sumanthiran ,counsel for Mrs.Raviraj, told Express on Wednesday, that if his plea for retrial under PTA is accepted by the Court of Appeal, the case will be sent back to the Colombo High Court for retrial under that stringent Special Law. And if that happens, there would be a trial by a judge and not by a jury as was the case earlier.
Earlier, the five accused, three of whom were naval intelligence personnel, had pleaded for a trial by an all-Sinhalese jury and the court accepted the plea against Sumanthiran’s objection.
Judge Manilal Waidyatilleke did not accept Sumanthiran’s plea that since the man killed was a Member of Parliament, it was an assassination, and should, therefore, be considered a terrorist act and tried under PTA.
And under PTA, there could be no trial by jury. Furthermore, when even one of the charges is under PTA, as was indeed so in this case, the Special Law (PTA) should have over ridden Ordinary Law (Penal Code) and the entire case ought to have been tried under PTA.
As it happened, the all-Sinhalese jury found there was no clinching evidence against the accused and wanted them freed. The judge declared them not guilty.
Sumanthiran then approached the Court of Appeal. This court also dismissed the case but on the grounds that on the day fixed for support, neither Mrs.Raviraj or her lawyers was present.
Sumanthiran put in a plea for “relisting the case” on the grounds that he was not aware of the date for support because it was fixed suddenly and put in an additional list. The court accepted his plea and relisted the case for March 3.
(The featured image at the top is that of the assassinated Tamil National Alliance MP Nadarajah Raviraj)