Home / News/ Jaffna district MP Raviraj Murder Appeal against HC order acquitting Navy officers

Jaffna district MP Raviraj Murder Appeal against HC order acquitting Navy officers

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By S. S. Selvanayagam

The Court of Appeal yesterday (19) fixed to be taken up on 30 June the appeal filed by the widow of assassinated Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP Nadarajah Raviraj against the order by the Colombo High Court in Raviraj’s murder case.

 The Bench comprised Justices Deepali Wijesundera and Lalith Jayasuriya.

 Appellant Sasikala Raviraj sought the Court of Appeal to set aside the High Court’s verdict of acquittal of the accused.

 Filing her appeal, Raviraj stated that the High Court judge had directed that the trial be attended by a special jury in line of charges relating to the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and the Judge’s charge to the jury.

 Her husband was an elected MP from Jaffna district representing the TNA constituent party Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi when he was assassinated on 10th November 2006.

 Raviraj further said that as borne out by the proceedings, when the case was taken up prior to trial, the Counsel for the second to fourth accused made application for the trial by a Sinhala speaking jury.

 The indictment included charges relating to offences specified in the PTA, she said, adding that Counsel for the aggrieved party objected to the said application.

 Raviraj’s counsel had objected to a jury trial on her instructions on the basis that the PTA is, in the circumstances, ‘lex specialis’ (law governing a specific subject matter) and by virtue of the PTA as well as the maxim ‘generalia specialis non derogant’ (the provisions of a general statute must yield to those of a special one - also known as the rule of implied exception) which has been consistently applied by Sri Lankan courts.

 She underlined that it is the procedure specified by the PTA which would override any other procedure stipulated by the regular Criminal Code. In this case, that requires that the trial by a Judge without a jury as specified in PTA.

The High Court judge made order on 27 October 2016 overruling the appellant’s objection and allowing a trial by a special jury, she stated.

 On 23 December 2016, after addresses to the jury by the Attorney General, Counsel for the aggrieved party, Counsel for the accused and the Attorney General, the High Court judge charged the jury in terms of Code of Criminal Procedure, she further said.

 In the course of this charge, he ordered the jury to provide a verdict in respect of all charges in the indictment, including those relating to the PTA, she added.

 After the jury’s deliberations, on 24 December 2016, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty in respect of the all accused for all charges in the indictment – after which the Judge discharged the accused.

 She contends the evidence presented against all accused at the trial was sufficient to convict them of all offences.

 She is seeking the Court of Appeal to set aside the order of the High Court judge and the verdict of the acquittal.

 She is asking the Court to find the accused guilty of all charges and to order a re-trial of the accused for all or several of the offences.

 Appellant cited Palani Sami Suresh, Chandana Kumara, Gamini Seneviratne, Pradeep Chaminda, Sivakanthan Vivekananthan and Fabian Roiston Tusen as Accused-Respondents as well as the Attorney General in her appeal.

M. A. Sumanthiran with Niran Anketell instructed by Moahan Balendra appeared for the Appellant.

Anuja Premaratne appeared for the acquitted Accused-Respondent Navy Officers Gamini Seneviratne and Pradeep Chaminda. Deputy Solicitor General Rohantha Abeysuriya appeared for the Attorney General.

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