Army lawyers who do not appear for suspect army personnel in any case, had violated tradition by appearing for the army personnel accused of assaulting the Matara District judge creating a bad precedent, a senior army officer said.
The case against the assault of Matara District Judge Saman Kumara was concluded in the Matara courts yesterday.
The legal procedure regarding cases involving army personnel had been for the army lawyers to appear on behalf of the army and for the suspect army personnel to hire private lawyers.
Suspect army personnel have so far been represented by private lawyers even in fundamental rights cases filed against army personnel for violations committed while on duty. The army pays the legal fees only if the suspects are exonerated.
Although there are over 2,000 cases being filed against army intelligence personnel over arbitrary arrests, they are not being represented by army lawyers.
The army legal division says that the assault on the Matara District Judge was not in the line of duty and was purely a private clash that is a severe violation of military discipline.
In this background, army lawyers N. Karunathileka, and Captain Madhura Wijeartne appeared on behalf of the suspect army personnel at military expense.
The army officer who spoke to us said that the incident in Matara gave the impression that an army soldier could get away committing any crime as long as they had political patronage.