Colombo, January 19 (The New Indian Express): The Sri Lankan Court of Appeal on Thursday dismissed the case relating to the assassination of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP Nadarajah Raviraj on the grounds that the petitioner was not present in court.
M.A. Sumanthiran, Counsel for the petitioner (Mrs. Raviraj and family), told Express that he was not present in court because the Colombo High Court, in which the case was originally conducted, had not given him certified copies of all the documents relating the case.
Without these documents he could not support his case. And among the missing documents was the most important one, that relating to the High Court judge’s refusal to accept his plea against a jury trial.
Anticipating the difficulty in getting certified copies of all documents within the stipulated two weeks, Sumanthiran had filed a motion saying that he would seek a date for supporting his case after he had secured copies of all the documents. But the judge fixed Thursday for hearing the case and put it an additional list, a fact Sumanthiran was not aware of.
However, the counsel for the defendant navy personnel was present, as was the counsel for the Attorney General’s Department. The judge dismissed the case saying that the petitioner was absent.
However, Sumanthiran immediately filed another motion seeking re-listing of the case saying that he is still to get all the relevant copies from the Colombo High Court and that he will support his case once he gets the documents. As per the rules, he has suggested three days in the coming week for re-listing the case.
Raviraj was shot dead in Colombo on November 10 ,2016. Investigations revealed that some Sri Lanka navy intelligence personnel and some men of the breakaway Karuna group of the LTTE had carried out the assassination. But the Colombo High Court dismissed the case against all the arraigned men after an all-Sinhalese jury ruled that there was no proof of their involvement.
But Sumanthiran, Counsel for Raviraj’s family, had earlier opposed trial by jury on the grounds that one of the charges against the accused was under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) which necessitates trial by a judge not a jury. He also pointed out that the PTA, being a Special Law, should override Ordinary Law. But the judge dismissed this argument and ordered trial by an all-Sinhalese jury as per the request of the accused.
(The featured image at the top shows the assassinated Tamil National Alliance MP, Nadarajah Raviraj)