Sri Lanka Brief
NewsAttack on defence counsel in Kotte Temple murder case : Magistrate orders arrest of mob leading monk

Attack on defence counsel in Kotte Temple murder case : Magistrate orders arrest of mob leading monk

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”The Police have failed to arrest the two persons dressed in yellow robes and we have reliable and unimpeachable evidence that one is Vitharandeniye Nanda, who led the mob attack of the lawyer. It is only after the Bar Association decided to intervene that the police arrested the ex-Pradeshiya Sabha member Lakshman (Lucky) Nandana Dharmasena

A person arrested in connection with the attack on a lawyer by a group of persons including some Buddhist monks outside the Nugegoda Magistrate’s Court was identified yesterday and allowed bail in Rs. 2,500 cash and a surety bond of Rs, 50,000 by the Nugegoda Chief Magistrate, who also ordered the arrest of the chief incumbent of a leading temple alleged to have led the mob.

The Counsel appearing for the defence said he unequivocally condemned the attack on a fellow lawyer.

President’s Counsel Hemantha Warnakulasuriya appearing for the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, in his submission to Court said:

“It is a great indictment on the Buddhist clergy that goons dressed in yellow robes thought it fit to attack a professional in broad daylight in front of the TV cameras to be viewed by millions, including children, here and abroad. It is a very sad reflection on the noble teachings of the Lord Buddha, whose religion is founded upon sacred principles of ‘Love’, ‘Kindness’ and ‘Compassion’. These goons must understand that a lawyer is protected by the supreme law of the country viz; The Constitution. His right to carry out his professional duties, as an officer of a Court, the ‘Temple of Justice’ should be protected by civilized people. Therefore, no person dressed in robe or cassock has a right to intervene and prevent by force any lawyer appearing for a litigant as it is a sacred right guaranteed by the supreme law of the country.

“The Executive committee of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka has decided to intervene and protect this sacred and inalienable right of a lawyer to defend any accused.

“We seriously believe that this matter should be dealt with by the Higher Court, irrespective of whether the persons who led the demonstration and attack were dressed in robes or cassock. Those that stooped to the law of the jungle should be charged with contempt of Court and punished severely.

“The Police have failed to arrest the two persons dressed in yellow robes and we have reliable and unimpeachable evidence that one is Vitharandeniye Nanda, who led the mob attack of the lawyer. It is only after the Bar Association decided to intervene that the police arrested the ex-Pradeshiya Sabha member Lakshman (Lucky) Nandana Dharmasena and he was remanded till the identification parade” stated President’s Counsel Hemantha Warnakulasuriya, appearing on behalf of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

“The complainant, Attorney-at-Law Sumith Silva, identified the suspect Dharmasena who was released on bail in Rs.2,500/- cash and a Rs.50,000/- Surety Bond. Attorney-at-Law Vasantha Ranasinghe appearing for the suspect stated that he unequivocally condemns the act of assaulting a lawyer and he joins hands with the prosecution in condemning that heinous act. He said that his appearance was to assure the public that the right of appearance should at all times be protected. He said that the mob attack was lead by men dressed in yellow robes, posing of as Buddhist priests.”

At this stage Nugegoda Chief Magistrate Ajith Masinghe, addressing the suspect said, “You led a gang to assault a lawyer and now when you are in difficulties you have to retain the services of a lawyer to obtain your release.”

Thereafter, the Magistrate ordered the police to arrest Ven. Vitharandeniye Nanda. According to the counsel the accused, who is the chief incumbent of a leading temple in the area, is an accused in two other cases pending in the Magistrate’s Court of Colombo.
 The case was postponed to June 16.

President Counsel Hemantha Warnakulasuriya, with Mervyn de Silva, Aruna Mallawarachchi, Wilson Gunawardena, Janaki Navaratne, Channa Balasuriya and Janaka Dias, instructed by Indrajith Amaratunga appeared for the Bar Association. Wasantha Ranasinghe appeared for the accused.
By Mike Andree
IS

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