Inquiry into Bindunuwewa massacre appeal continues
[TamilNet, Monday, 14 June 2004, 14:27 GMT]
Specially constituted five-member bench of the Sri Lanka's Supreme Court comprising Justices Asoka de Silva, T.B.Weerasuriya, Nihal Jayasinghe, N.E.Dissanayake and Raja Fernando, which began to hear the appeals of the five accused in the Bindunuwewa massacre case last week has fixed the further inquiry for June 22, legal sources said.
Five accused - three civilians Mr.D.M.Sepala Dissanayake, Mr.M.A.Sammy, and Mr.R.M.Premananda and two police officials Inspector of Police Mr. Senaka Jayampathi Karunasena and, Sub Inspector of Police Mr.Tyronne Roger Ratnayake - were convicted and sentenced to death by the specially constituted High Court Trial-at-Bar comprising HC Judges Messrs Sarath Ambepitya, Eric Basanayake, and Upali Abeyaratne on July 1st last year at the conclusion of the Bindunuwewa massacre case, legal sources said.
They were initially charged with several others with 83 counts including unlawful assembly, committing the murder of 27 Tamil detainees and attempted murder of 14 other detainees at the Bindunuwewa Rehabilitation Centre on October 25, 2000.
The convicts in their appeals have asked the Supreme Court to set aside their convictions and order by the High Court Trial-at-Bar and to acquit them. The petitioners have stated in their appeals that there was no evidence to prove that they had committed the offences. They contend that the judgment was contrary to the evidence and the Trial-at-Bar judges had erred in law in dealing with the charge of being a member of an unlawful assembly. They maintain that the court had not paid sufficient attention to their statements made from the dock, legal sources said.
When the appeals were first taken up for inquiry last Thursday counsels for the accused-appellants began their submissions on behalf of their clients. Dr.Ranjit Fernando appeared for the first three accused. President Counsel Mr.D.S.Wijesinghe appeared for the fourth accused. President Counsel Mr.Rienzie Aresakularatne appeared for the fifth accused.
Solicitor General Mr.Chitranjan R.de Silva with Senior State Counsel Mr.Nihal Jayamanne and State Counsel Mr.Priyantha Nawana appeared for the Attorney General, legal sources said.
Mr.D.S.Wijesinghe, PC in his submission on behalf of the fourth accused said the charges of being a member of an unlawful assembly with the common intention to harm the inmates were misconceived in law and the Trial-at-Bar had not considered evidence even given by the detainees themselves that the Police protected them from the attackers.
At one stage of his submission Counsel Mr. Wijesinghe charged that the Bindunuwewa Rehabilitation Centre for Tamil detainees was established in a Sinhala village in order to start a communal disturbance and it created a fear in the minds of Sinhala residents of the village, legal sources said.