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Raviraj’s wife appeals to CA for re-trial without jury

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By S.S. Selvanayagam

The wife of slain TNA Parliamentarian Nadarajah Raviraj filed a revision application seeking the Court of Appeal to revise and set aside the order of the High Court judge allowing the request of the accused for the case to be tried before a jury as well as his verdict of acquitting the accused.

Sasikala Raviraj is petitioning the Court of Appeal to find the accused guilty of all or several of the offences they are accused of and passing sentence on them according to the law.

She is asking the Court to otherwise order a retrial by a judge of the High Court without a jury.

She cited the accused Palanisami Suresh alias Sami and Navy officers Chandana Kumara alias Sampath, Gamini Seneviratne, Pradeep Chaminda alias Vajira along with S. Vivekananthan alias Charan and Fabian Roiston Tusen as Accused-Respondents as well as the Attorney General.

She states that the first, fifth and sixth accused were not arraigned before the Court while the first accused was said to be deceased and fifth and sixth accused were said to be absconding.

She states that Raviraj and one other person were assassinated on 10 November 2006.

The Attorney General filed an indictment against the accused and when the case was taken up prior to trial, the Counsel for the accused made an application in the High Court that the accused be tried by a Sinhala-speaking Jury.

Counsel representing Sasikala Raviraj objected to the said application and written submissions were made, she states.

The indictment in the instant case included charges relating to offences specified in the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) as well as offences specified in the Penal Code, she says.

She maintains that it is the procedure specified by the PTA which would override any other procedure stipulated by the regular criminal code and contends that in this case that requires that the trial be conducted by a Judge without a jury as specified in Section 15(1) of the PTA.

She states that the High Court Judge on 23 December made an order overruling the objection of the Petitioner and allowing a trial by a special jury. She said that the High Court Judge, after statements to the jury by the Attorney General and the Counsel for Sasikala Raviraj, charged the jury in terms of the Code of Criminal Procedure and that he also charged the jury to provide a verdict in respect of all charges in the indictment, including those relating to the PTA.

After the jury’s deliberations, on 24 December, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty in respect of all the accused for all charges in the indictment and the High Court Judge thereafter discharged the accused, she states.

She seeks the revisionary power of the Court of Appeal as to whether the High Court Judge has erred or misdirected himself and the jury in law of ordering a trial by jury where the indictment contains a charge of the commission of an offence or offences under the PTA as well as by failing to consider or fully appreciate Section 15(1) of the PTA which specially requires a trial by a judge without a jury.

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