CA issues notices to acquitted respondents in Raviraj case

Wednesday, 22 February 2017 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By S.S. Selvanayagam

Satisfied with the submission made by the counsel for the wife of slain TNA MP Nadarajah Raviraj, the Court of Appeal yesterday (21) issued notices to the respondents, returnable for 28 February.

The bench comprised Justices H.C.J. Madawala and L.T.B. Dehideniya.

In the revision application, the petitioner, Sasikala Raviraj is seeking the Court 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 acquittal.

She is also petitioning the court to find the accused guilty of all or several of the offences they are charged with and pass sentence on them according to the law.

She is asking the court to otherwise order a retrial by a High Court judge 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 and the Attorney General.

Sumanthiran with Niran Anketell, instructed by Moahan Balendra, appeared for Sasikala Raviraj.

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

The indictment in the instant case included charges relating to offences specified in the Prevention of Terrorism Act as well as offences specified in the penal code, she states.

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 says that the High Court judge on 23 December 2016 delivered an order overruling the objection of the petitioner and allowing a trial by a special jury. She said 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 the charges in the indictment, including those relating to the PTA.

 After the jury’s deliberations, on 24 December 2016, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty for 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 PTA as well as by failing to consider or fully appreciate Section 15(1) of the PTA which specially requires trial by a judge without a jury.