Confusion over “transfer” of Senior State Counsel on Eknaligoda case

Tuesday, 9 February 2016 00:07 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Acting AG claims brave SSC was transferred at “his own request”
  • SSC Peiris denies transfer, confirms he will appear in Eknaligoda case today
  • Govt. Lawyer on Eknaligoda case highly praised for courage under pressure
  • All eyes on Homagama Magistrate’s court today to see if Peiris will appear, say senior lawyers 

Confusion reigned over the alleged attempted transfer of the Government lawyer handling the Prageeth Eknaligoda disappearance case, one day ahead of its next hearing scheduled for today (9). 

Acting Attorney General Suhada Gamlath told Daily FT last night that Senior State Counsel Dilipa Pieris had been transferred from the Eknaligoda case. 

“Dileepa Peiris does not want to continue working on that case. He has been transferred on his own request,” Acting AG Gamlath told Daily FT over the telephone. 

However in a curious turn of events, Senior State Counsel Peiris refuted the claim and insisted he would be appearing in the Eknaligoda case on behalf of the Attorney General’s Department at the Homagama Magistrate’s Court today.  Asked if he had requested a transfer from the Eknaligoda case Peiris replied: “Not to my knowledge. I will be appearing in the case tomorrow.” 

When Daily FT probed further about the Acting Attorney General’s claim that Peiris had requested a transfer, the Senior State Counsel repeated that he was unaware of the matter. Attempts to reach Acting Attorney General Gamlath after this revelation by the Senior States Counsel last night failed. Several legal sources confirmed that Peiris had not requested a transfer from the case. It is unclear if the Senior Government lawyer has come under pressure to step aside from the controversial case. 

It is also unclear if Acting AG Gamlath decided against the transfer at the eleventh hour in anticipation of a backlash, legal sources told Daily FT. The Senior State Counsel confirmed to multiple confidants and lawyers last night that he would appear in the Eknaligoda case before the Homagama Magistrate this morning. 

Last week, the Purawesi Balaya, several civil society movements and lawyers warned that attempts were underway to transfer Peiris from the Ekneligoda case and urged the Government to stop the transfer. Pieris has come in for high praise from civil society and members of the legal fraternity for his courageous appearances in the Eknaligoda disappearance case, after the investigations picked up steam since presidential elections last year. Seven military intelligence personnel have already been arrested in connection with the journalist’s disappearance, and Peiris has strongly argued against granting these officers bail while the case is ongoing. The Senior State Counsel also took a hardline on the unruly behaviour of Bodu Bala Sena General Secretary Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara at the Homagama Court house last month, joining lawyers for Prageeth’s wife in arguing that the monk’s behaviour was tantamount to contempt of court. For several months, Daily FT learns that the removal of Peiris from the Eknaligoda case has allegedly been strongly encouraged by sections of the military under fire over the journalist’s disappearance.(DB)