”Before Frederica Jansz published these lies which she claims I said, many in the country had heard about it. I believe even the judges would have heard about it. Even before Frederica Jansz wrote this, the Daily Mirror had reported this in the same manner. Even the Sunday Times has written this again over the last weekend. Will action be initiated against those who wrote about it and people who informed them about it?”
When the three-member bench — Deepani Wijesundera (presiding), with Zulficar Razeen and W.T.M.P.B. Warawewa — convened at 11.30 a.m., Friday, Mudliyar Shaukat Ali Mohamed Nazli announced the highlights of the judgment. He said that two judges (Ms. Wijesundera and Razeen) had found Fonseka guilty of the first count — violating the emergency regulations (since withdrawn) by telling Frederica Jansz, Editor of The Sunday Leader, that Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa had ordered (then) Brigadier Shavendra Silva not to let any Tiger rebels waving white flags “to surrender and kill them all.” This was during the final stages of the war in May 2009. He said they had ruled that Fonseka was not guilty of the other two charges.
The second charge said, he had, by making those remarks “aroused communal feelings directly or indirectly.” The third count accused him of “arousing anti-government feelings among the public and creating disputes among them.” Mudliyar Nazli said there was a dissenting judgment by Warawewa who had ruled that Fonseka was not guilty of all three charges. Details of the separate judgments appear on Page 14.
Fonseka was allowed to make a dock statement thereafter. He read out a three-page hand written note in Sinhala. Here is an English translation: “I am not surprised about this judgment. Honestly, it is not only me, a large section of the public and even lawyers present here had doubts that there would be justice done under the current system. I do not accept that this judgment was reasonable. Before Frederica Jansz published these lies which she claims I said, many in the country had heard about it. I believe even the judges would have heard about it. Even before Frederica Jansz wrote this, the Daily Mirror had reported this in the same manner. Even the Sunday Times has written this again over the last weekend. Will action be initiated against those who wrote about it and people who informed them about it? It is only under a rule of dictatorship and not under a rule of democracy where action is filed and a person is jailed for answering a question to the best of his knowledge in the capacity of an opposition presidential candidate.
“I am of the strong opinion that the Army which I commanded was not involved in war crimes during the military victory. They followed my instructions according to humanitarian laws protecting human rights during the fighting. They acted accordingly and protected as many as 12,000 terrorists in the battlefront. As a respected Commander of the Army I am of the view that if any one ordered that terrorists surrendering should be shot that person should be brought before the law. In the past there were serious crimes such as the Krishanthi Kumarasamy case, the massacre of Tamils in Bindunuwewa and the killing of students in Embilipitiya. But was action filed against those who made statements or expressed views? No. Only action was filed against those who committed the crime.
“Don’t the people have the right to speak of anything taking place illegally? Don’t the people have the right to speak? Is it that if the persons speak they are jailed? Is this the justice? What I told Frederica was that I too heard from two journalists about the incident. One of them is willing to make a statement that he said this. It is up to the judiciary to find out the truth of it. At the end of it is an unfair judgment. What has happened is that I am being kept away from my two children and wife. Even nature would not accept this injustice. The hopes of those who wanted to keep me away from politics and away from the public by bringing false allegations against me have been fulfilled, but the hopes of the people have been dashed. But this is a blessing in disguise to me as a person working to protect the rights of the people, their self-respect and to change the political culture. I am thankful to the panel of judges for that.
“Finally I wish to state that as a person who hated injustice I will take the same stand about this judgment as well. I reject this judgment with disgust. Only what applies to me is the opinion of the general public and just society. I believe that the public and the just society will correct this wrong decision one day. If not, this will create a black mark in the judicial history in this country. I wish to thank my wife and children, my supporters, my witnesses, my counsel (Nalin Ladduwahetty) and the panel of lawyers who worked with expectation to ensure that justice would be done for me.
“If the people accept that injustice was done to me, I call upon them to rise against injustice. I salute the judge who held that I was not guilty of the charges. His bravery is an honour to the judiciary. I think there is a need to see if there are shortcomings in the judicial system if the judiciary cannot reach a unanimous decision in a simple and open case such as this.”
form the political column of Sunday Times