Scandal surrounds Attorney General
[TamilNet, Thursday, 29 October 1998, 17:21 GMT]
Sri Lanka's Attorney General (AG) Sarath N Silva had a tough time defending himself against charges of adultery and obstruction of justice at the weekly cabinet press briefing today. The embarrassed AG was helplessly cornered by the press with evidence of his alleged misconduct, despite interruptions by Media Minister Mr.Mangala Samaraweera in his support.
The Attorney General was present today at the briefing following the controversy surrounding an exposure in the Ravaya on October 16, a leading Sinhala political weekly paper, which alleged that the AG had obstructed a case against him for adultery.
Mr.Victor Ivan, the editor of Ravaya, was also present at the briefing today. (Mr.Ivan alias Podi Athula was one of the leaders of the left wing insurrection in 1971)
The Attorney General was asked how he could hold a responsible public position if he is guilty of adultery and obstruction of justice by interfering in cases pending. So many questions were fired at the AG that he cut a sorry figure, unable to explain himself coherently.
The beleaguered Mr.Silva, however, insisted that the adultery case filed against him was a civil suit and as such it was a matter that concerned only the two parties concerned.
He said that only a criminal suit against him could warrant public concern. Further, the case was withdrawn on January 3, 1996 and that at the time it was filed he was not in the judicial service Mr.Silva claimed.
No sooner had he said this that a journalist produced copy of letter to the Judicial Services Commission by the person who withdrew the case alleging interference. The apparently befuddled Attorney General said he was not aware of the matter.
Mr. Amal Jayasingha, the AFP correspondent, interjected amidst the commotion that the Mr.Sarath Silva's case was like the Clinton - Monica Lewinsky scandal.
A question about the delay over digging up the mass grave in Chemmani in Jaffna helped the AG to change the subject and make a hurried exit before journalists could corner him further.
Answering the Chemmani question eagerly, obviously relieved, the Attorney General said that he was taking a keen interest in matter but little could be done as Senior Superintend of Police Mr.Chandra Perera ,the Police officer through whom he was co-ordinating the arrangements for digging the place was killed in the bomb blast along with the Jaffna mayor on September .
He said that a representative of the Amnesty International (AI) had contacted him about Chemmani and he had told her that the AI could provide expertise to dig at the mass grave site.
The AI, according to him, had agreed to consider his proposal and once the experts were sent by Amnesty action would be taken to investigate the grave. With this, the Attorney General left the press briefing before anymore questions on the adultery case could be fired at him.
Later journalists asked the military spokesman whether no other security forces officer was available in Jaffna to co-ordinate the digging of the mass grave site. The brigadier, however, gave a very evasive answer and changed the subject.