New HC bench to hear Mirusuvil massacre case

[TamilNet, Saturday, 14 May 2005, 16:12 GMT]
The Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar (TAB) inquiry into the Mirusuvil massacre case has been fixed before a newly constituted three member-bench comprising Judges Mr.Upali Abeyaratne, Mr.D Wijesunthara and Mr.Sunil Rajapakse for July 25. Earlier the inquiry was scheduled to resume on 22 Monday, 2004. However the inquiry was put off indefinitely with the murder of Judge Mr.Sarath Ambepitya who was the chairman of the three-member bench, legal sources said.

The case was taken up before the newly appointed three-member bench of the Colombo High Court last week to fix new date for the fresh inquiry, legal sources said.

In this case, Sri Lanka's Attorney General indicted five SLA soldiers, Sunil Ratnayake, Senaka Munasinghe, T.M.Jeyaratne, Pushpa Saman Kumara and Gamini Munasinghe on 19 charges in the murder of eight Tamil civilians, Gnanapalan Raviveeran, Sellamuthu Theivakulasingham, Vilvarajah Piratheepan, Sinniah Vilvarajah, Nadesu Jeyachchandran, Kathiran Gnanachchandran, Gnanachandran Santhan and Vilvarajah Prasath in Mirusuvil on December 19, 2000.

According to the prosecution, the accused had killed the civilians when they were visiting their houses and lands in Mirusuvil after the military operation of the SLA, legal sources said.

The inquiry into the Mirusuvil massacre case commenced before a three-member High Court Trial at-Bar during the middle part of last year and all witnesses were brought to Colombo from Jaffna and kept in safe custody. However the inquiry came to a halt in September last year after the evidence of sole eyewitness who miraculously survived the massacre and a military officer who recorded the confession of Mr.R.M.S.Ratnayake of Mahiyanganaya, an accused soldier were recorded followed by an appeal by the accused soldier Mr.Ratnayake to the Supreme Court to declare that the confession made by him was inadmissible as the military police officer who recorded his confession was not a "police officer" within the meaning of Section 23 of the Evidence Ordinance, legal sources said.

The five member bench of the Supreme Court comprised Chief Justice Sarath Silva and Justices P.Edussuriya, H.S.Yapa, Asoka de Silva and T.B.Weerasuriya which heard the appeal in its order directed the TAB that it could continue its proceedings although the confession made by one of the accused soldier Mr.R.M.S.Ratnayake was not admissible as the military police officer who recorded the confession was not a police officer within the meaning of Section 23 of the Evidence Ordinance but with other available material evidence including an eye-witness to prove the charges against the accused soldiers other than the confession recorded by a military police officer, legal sources said.

 

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