Sri Lanka Brief
NewsCJ Mohan Peiris Reminded Him of the Classic Mafia Lawyer – Dayan Jayatileka

CJ Mohan Peiris Reminded Him of the Classic Mafia Lawyer – Dayan Jayatileka

by

In one of his recent articles Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha says that Dayan Jayatileka told him present Chief Justice Mohan Peiris ( then AG) ‘reminded him of the classic Mafia lawyer, who would argue even the worst case with apparent sincerity in the service of his masters. According to Raviva Wijesinha Mohan Peiris ‘began his rise to the position of Chief Justice by being Adviser to the Ministry of Defence.’

by Rajiva Wijesinha M.P.-
[Excerpts form the article ‘Enemies of the President’s Promise – 20’ by Rajiva Wijesinha M.P.]

If G L Peiris moved only gradually into seeing his principal role as advancing the agenda of the Secretary of Defence, his intellectual counterpart in the inner echelons of government, Mohan Peiris, had from the start been associated with Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. He began his rise to the position of Chief Justice by being Adviser to the Ministry of Defence. His reputation at the bar, after he had left the Attorney General’s Department, rested however on his commercial skills, and his main use initially was to advise on arms procurement for the Ministry of Defence
…..
Dayan [] was certainly of this view, but he was also perspicacious enough to note even then a weakness in Mohan that ultimately proved fatal. He told me, having seen Mohan in action with the Rajapaksa brothers, that he reminded him of the classic Mafia lawyer, who would argue even the worst case with apparent sincerity in the service of his masters. He also added that, while Mohan was able to assert his liberal beliefs with both the President and Basil, he was embarrassingly respectful to Gotabhaya. Dayan indeed imitated Mohan standing attentive with his hands behind his back as Gotabhaya asserted his opinions.
…………..
Soon after that appointment [as Attorney General] I think I noticed that Mohan was comparatively less accessible, and did not for instance return calls with the assiduity he had evinced before, but I did not take this too seriously. What was indubitably serious was the hostility he exhibited towards senior members of the Department, refusing for instance to include Yasantha [Yasantha Kodagoda] on delegations to Geneva. Shavi [Shavindra Fernando] had by then moved to the Foreign Ministry as Legal Advisor, so he came anyway, but the much more dynamic Yasantha was obviously persona non grata. Instead Mohan initially sent a couple of youngsters who had no idea what was going on, and contributed nothing. Later he sent a more senior man called Nawaz, who was more responsive to issues but obviously could not speak at the Council, an exercise in which Yasantha used to be most impressive.

But soon after that session [UNHRC special session on Sri Lanka, May 2009] I sensed that something had changed. Dayan told me later that Mohan had expected to make the final speech at the session, whereas Dayan had wanted me to do it, he himself having spoken at the inception of the session. Mohan had seemed happy with this, but Dayan said he had prepared a speech, and was not very pleased that it had to be omitted. And I suspect the publicity both of us received had been an irritant, since cutouts of us appeared, along with Minister Samarasinge, and Mohan himself was hardly mentioned.
…………..
I should add that I told Dayan I thought we had also made a mistake in refusing to go out to dinner that night with the Minister and Mohan to celebrate [after the special session of UNHRC in May 2009 was over]. I was actually exhausted, and simply wanted to sit down quietly in the comfort of Dayan’s home, but I think this was seen as unsocial and arrogant of us, and probably the Minister and Mohan were not very happy that we left them to themselves. Certainly the next time I saw Mohan, at the ordinary session of the Council in June (I had stayed on in Europe, to attend the wedding of a friend in Hamburg), he told me that the Secretary of Defence was very angry with me.

Read the full article here

Back to Top