The parents of the 11 youths who were allegedly abducted and forcibly disappeared by a group of Naval intelligence officers have filed a complaint with the Commission to Investigate into Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) on 9 August against the Attorney General (AG) President’s Counsel Sanjay Rajaratnam.
The parents of the victims have objected to the AG’s recent decision to temporarily not proceed with the charges against former Navy Commander and Admiral of the Fleet Wasantha Karannagoda, as the Court of Appeal had, in connection with a writ petition filed by Karannagoda, issued an interim order halting the hearing of the charges levelled against him. The AG had informed the Colombo Permanent High Court Trial-at-Bar of the same on 4 August. The case was taken up before Judges Champa Janaki Rajaratne, Amal Ranaraja, and Nawaratne Marasinghe on 4 August.
Karannagoda was named as a defendant in the Colombo Permanent High Court Trial-at-Bar case filed against a group of Naval intelligence officers pertaining to the alleged abduction and enforced disappearance of 11 youths in Colombo in 2008 and 2009.
The parents have also previously written to the AG, expressing their “utter dismay” at the AG’s application for the temporary withdrawal of the indictment.
Similarly, Amnesty International demanded reasons earlier this month for the decision by the AG’s Department to not proceed with the abduction charges.
“This case has already been beset by obstacles in the Court, and this decision pushes justice further out of reach for the families of the victims. The AG’s Department must explain the reasons for its decision, and the authorities must deliver truth, justice, and reparations for all victims of enforced disappearance,” said Amnesty International’s East, South East Asia and Pacific, and South Asia Regional Office Director Yamini Mishra.
She further claimed that since Sri Lanka has the world’s second highest number of enforced disappearances “this case was an opportunity for the Sri Lankan authorities to deliver justice for crimes under international law, by ensuring that those reasonably suspected of criminal responsibility, including those implicated for aiding and abetting and acting under the principle of command responsibility, are brought to trial”.
“In August 2018, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) arrested Lieutenant Commander Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi alias Navy Sampath, as the main suspect. The CID accused former Navy Commander and Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Ravindra Wijeguneratne of shielding one of the main suspects, and the Court also ordered his arrest. In February 2019, Karannagoda was named as the 14th suspect in the case and was implicated with having known about the enforced disappearances by Naval personnel he had command responsibility over, and choosing to take no action,” Amnesty International further claimed.
Senior State Counsel Janaka Bandara, who represented the AG, told the Court that Karannagoda has filed a writ petition before the Court of Appeal against naming him as a defendant in this case, and that the Court of Appeal has accordingly issued an interim order against hearing the charges levelled against him.