Colombo, December 25 (The New Indian Express): The widow of the assassinated Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP, Nadarajah Raviraj, will be moving the Court of Appeal against the Colombo High Court’s order acquitting five persons including Sri Lankan intelligence personnel, who were accused of planning and executing the murder of the Jaffna district MP here on November 10,2006.
Counsel for Mrs.Raviraja, M.A.Sumanthiran, who is himself a TNA MP, told Express on Sunday, that the appeal will be filed by him within the stipulated two week period.
The Attorney General could himself go on appeal against the verdict, but the AG does not usually challenge an acquittal in such cases where the jury had unanimously acquitted the accused, Sumanthiran said.
An all-Sinhalese Special Jury had acquitted all the five accused on grounds of lack of sufficient evidence. The judge, Manilal Waidyatilake, accepted the jury’s verdict. One of the accused had requested an all-Sinhalese jury under the ordinary Penal Code and the judge had accepted it despite objections raised by Sumanthiran.
Sumanthiran had argued that since one of the charges against the accused persons was made under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), a Special Act, there was no room for a jury trial. The Special Act should take precedence over ordinary law. But the judge did not accept this and ordered a Special Jury trial. The members of the jury were senior personnel of the public sector. He also accepted the request for an all-Sinhalese or Sinhalese knowing jury.
At the Court of Appeal Sumanthiran plans to argue that since one of the charges was under the PTA, it should have had precedence over ordinary law in conducting the trial and that the trial should have been by a judge and not a jury.
The jury had apparently gone by the evidence tendered by the Chief of Sri Lankan intelligence Senior DIG, Nilantha Jayawardena, who denied the prosecution’s contention that the intelligence services had knowledge of the plan for Raviraj’s assassination two days before it took pace.
Those accused were Prasad Chandana Kumara, Gamini Kumara, Pradeep Chaminda, Sivakanthan Vivekanandan alias Karan and Xavier Royston Christopher Hussein. Another accused Palaniswamy Suresh had died.
Three of the accused were naval intelligence personnel and these were present throughout the trial. Two others belonging to the pro-government “Karuna” faction of the now defunct LTTE, had absconded.
(The featured picture at the top is that of the assassinated Tamil National Alliance MP, Nadarajah Raviraj)