Colombo Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake yesterday refused to issue notice to inquire facts about the statement made by former Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne and Douglas Anthony Fernando at a press conference, regarding the abduction of people by white vans.
A Petition was filed at the Fort Magistrate’s Court, stating that Dr. Senaratne and Fernando have committed a criminal offense by protecting an individual who had covered up evidence of a crime. The Petition requested the Court to issue notice to the Respondents to appear before the court to inquire facts.
The Magistrate, dismissing the Petition, ordered to close the case.
Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake said that a press conference or media reports in the newspapers cannot determine that a criminal offense has been committed.
The Magistrate pointed out that the statements made at the media conference could be investigated, and the request was rejected, as the Complainant failed to prove that a crime had been committed. The Magistrate made this order when a Motion was filed by Attorney Janjith de Silva regarding a personal complaint filed in Court.
Attorney-at-law Achini Kularatne, appearing on behalf of the Complainant, said that as a Government Minister and MP, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne had summoned an individual who had concealed evidence in a crime to a media briefing, providing security to him, and even after the press conference the security units have not been informed of the alleged abductor, Douglas Anthony Fernando.
The Attorney informed the Court that the alleged abductor was presented at the press conference keeping his identity concealed, and requested the court to issue an order banning foreign travel for the former Minister, since there is the possibility that he may leave the country.
The Complainant also submitted to the court electronic media reports of Dinamina, Daily News, and CDs containing the facts revealed at the press conference and photographs.
In the press conference held on 10 November, former Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne was present with Douglas Anthony Fernando, who claimed to drive the white vans, and another individual, Athula Sanjaya Madanayake, who was allegedly the victim of an attempted abduction.
During the conference, Dr. Senaratne had stated that under their Government, they would launch an investigation into murders and abductions that occurred under the Rajapaksa regime.