Overseas legal moves targeting ex-Prez: Manohara wants govt. to ensure his safe return
Posted on July 26th, 2022

By Shamindra Ferdinando Courtesy Island

President’s Counsel Manohara de Silva yesterday reminded the new government that it couldn’t absolve itself of the responsibility for the protection of ex-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa now being hounded by interested parties over unsubstantiated war crimes allegations entirely based on hearsay evidence.

The leading lawyer said so in response to The Island query regarding South Africa-based International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) requesting Singaporean Attorney General to arrest the ex-Sri Lankan President over war crimes. Sri Lanka brought the war to a successful conclusion in May 2009 against LTTE terrorists responsible for many heinous crimes, including assassinations of ex Indian Premier Rajiv Gandhi and President Ranasinghe Premadasa, while the double talking West tried to throw it a last minute lifeline by sending a ship to ferry away its leadership from Northeast Sri Lanka as they were cornered by security forces.

The ITJP made a similar move in the US in 2019. Foreign Ministry spokesperson yesterday confirmed that the Sri Lankan mission in Singapore has brought the development to the notice of the Ministry.

Reiterating his earlier accusation that the US may have declined to issue a visa to the then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to pave the way for interested parties to take action against the former Defence Secretary, De Silva said that the government and the Parliament should make their stand unequivocally clear on the issue.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa accompanied by his wife, Iyoma and two bodyguards arrived in Singapore on July 14 from the Maldives. The group landed in Male on the previous day after having left Sri Lanka in the wake of violent protests.

The constitutional expert declared: The state has a duty to protect its citizens. The yahapalana government co-sponsored the UNHRC resolution which accepted the findings and recommendations of the UNHRC report. This report recognized the right to prosecute under universal jurisdiction (that is to prosecute in any country even offenses committed in one’s own country) or to establish in Sri Lanka courts with foreign judges, investigators and prosecutors. This disgraceful plan of the yahapalana administration was reversed by the present PM Dinesh Gunawardena when he was the foreign minister in the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government.

Since this treacherous move to accept UNHRC recommendations was made during Wickremesinghe- Sirisena government, the incumbent government should clarify whether they still support those findings, including the right to prosecute under universal jurisdiction. The present government should immediately provide for the ex-president’s safe return and ensure that adequate security is provided for him to live in Sri Lanka, including accommodation under protection of the state.”

Manohara de Silva said that a thorough inquiry into the events leading to Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation would reveal how external and local elements manipulated the population to create a situation conducive for targeting the wartime leadership.

Lawyer de Silva said that the ITJP inadvertently contradicted the report of the three-member Darusman panel as regards a key issue pertaining to the removal of aid workers from the war zone in Sept 2008 whereas the UN report acknowledged the presence of UN and ICRC personnel till early 2009.

Darusman panel member Yasmin Sooka is ITJP’s Executive Director who has been engaged in a major campaign against Sri Lanka’s wartime political and military leadership.

Sri Lanka’s former Ambassador in Myanmar Prof. Nalin de Silva said that the ITJP move against the former President should be examined against the backdrop of the rebel SLPP group’s strategy that strengthened the Western efforts to get rid of the Rajapaksas.

The rebel group comprising Vasu-Wimal-Udaya deliberately or inadvertently facilitated the Western and Indian project meant to humiliate those responsible the eradication of the LTTE. Prof. de Silva asked whether those who spearheaded the protest movement were happy about ex-President Rajapaksa’s predicament. The academic declared that those who couldn’t stomach the LTTE’s defeat backed the campaign that forced both Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to step down.

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