Court delays Mirusuvil massacre inquiry

[TamilNet, Monday, 29 November 2004, 01:20 GMT]
The Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar inquiry into the Mirusuvil massacre case which was to resume Monday, 22 November, is to be delayed further with the murder of the High Court Judge Mr.Sarath Ambepitiya, legal sources said.

Mr.Ambepitiya was the chairman of the three-member bench of the Trial-at-Bar with two other newly appointed judges, legal sources said.

The Mirusuvil massacre case was listed for inquiry on November 22 but it was not taken up last Monday as all law courts in the country were closed down following the boycott by lawyers and judges in protest to the killing of Mr.Sarath Ambepitiya and also to participate in the funeral of the dead judge held on the same day, legal sources said.

A new date to commence the TAB inquiry is to be fixed afresh with a newly appointed judge to preside over the inquiry, legal sources said.

Mr.Sarath Ambepitiya was gunned down on November 19th, Friday and seven suspects who were arrested in connection with the murder last week would be produced in courts Monday, legal sources said

On the direction of the Chief Justice Mr.Sarath N.Silva, two new high court judges have been appointed replacing Judge Mr.S.I.Imam who has been promoted as Judge of the Court of Appeal and suspension of the other Judge Mr.Kumar Ekaratna on disciplinary grounds. But Mr.Sarath Ambepitiya was the only Judge in the TAB and also as chairman of the TAB till his death, legal sources said.

According to legal sources, with the appointment of a new judge as the chairman of the TAB all the three High Court Judges would be new to the case. Hence earlier proceedings held before the former TAB last year would be abandoned and inquiry would commence afresh before the new TAB from the start.

In this case the Attorney General has indicted five soldiers of the SLA on 19 charges including murder of eight Tamil villagers in Mirusuvil, Jaffna District on December 19, 2000, legal sources said.

According to the prosecution, the accused had killed the civilians when they were visiting their houses and lands in Mirusuvil after the military operation of the SLA, legal sources said.

The inquiry into the case held last year was stopped midway following the appeal by one of the accused soldier Mr.Ratnayake in the Supreme Court to declare that the confession made by him was inadmissible as the military police officer who recorded his confession was not a "police officer" within the meaning of Section 23 of the Evidence Ordinance, legal sources said.

The five member bench of the Supreme Court comprised Chief Justice Sarath Silva and Justices P.Edussuriya, H.S.Yapa, Asoka de Silva and T.B.Weerasuriya which heard the appeal in its order directed the TAB that it could continue its proceedings although the confession made by one of the accused soldier Mr.R.M.S.Ratnayake was not admissible as the military police officer who recorded the confession was not a police officer within the meaning of Section 23 of the Evidence Ordinance but with other available material evidence including an eye-witness to prove the charges against the accused soldiers other than the confession recorded by a military police officer, legal sources said.

 

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