SUNDAY LEADER THE DARLING OF THE WEST IS FACING CRISIS AFTER CRISIS IN ITS LEGAL BATTLE IN COURTS WITH DEFENSE SECRETARY GOTABHAYA RAJAPAPAKSA
Posted on June 23rd, 2009

By Walter Jayawardhana

The Sunday Leader newspaper , which has been facing a legal battle with the country’s Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa , accused of defaming him , faced a serious crisis when the lawyers appearing for the newspaper withdrew from the case declaring that they did not doubt the defence secretary’s honesty and integrity.

There had been two cases filed against the pro-opposition United National Party newspaper by the Defence Secretary. In the second case the court issued an injunction against the Sunday Leader preventing them from publishing anymore defamatory material against Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. On May 14 the newspaper promised before the court that they would not publish such material. But the Defence Secretary’s Attorneys informed the courts that the newspaper carried defamatory article against Gotabhaya Rajapaksa comparing him with Velupillai Prabhakaran. The newspaper said, both had violated human rights. The Counsel for the Defense Secretary argued that the article violated the court injunction and committed contempt of court. The court, pushing the newspaper into a legal quagmire issued summons to the newspaper why they should not be punished for the contempt of court.

 Complicating the cases some more the Attorneys appearing for the first case for the newspaper withdrew from appearing from the case in which the Defense Secretary has accused the newspaper of defaming him in four articles written about the purchase of MiG fighter jets for the Sri Lanka Air Force. The Attorneys appearing for the newspaper said they could not any longer appear for the defendants as they did not doubt the integrity and honesty of the Defence Secretary and he had done a great service to the country. Attorney Ali Sabry , who appeared for the Defence Secretary said they did not want a mere “apology” from the newspaper but they were determined to prove no fraud had been committed during the purchase of these aircraft, as charged by the newspaper, providing all relevant documents pertaining to the transaction.

 The court offered a new date, to facilitate the accused newspaper to hire new lawyers.

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