Journalist Tissanayagam case judgement on Monday

[TamilNet, Sunday, 30 August 2009, 11:27 GMT]
The Colombo High Court judge Ms. Deepali Wijesundara is to deliver the judgement on Monday August 31 on the case against senior journalist J. S. Tissanayagam who was indicted under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and Emergency Regulations (ER), legal sources in Colombo said. Tissainayagam was charged on three counts including printing and distributing the publication North Eastern Monthly magazine and the offences were stated to have been committed during the period between June 1, 2006 and June 1, 2007. He has been detained for 425 days since March 06 2008.

According to the indictment the accused had committed an offence under PTA and had committed acts of violence by inciting communal feelings by editing, printing or distributing the North Eastern Monthly magazine. Tissainayagam was also charged under the Emergency Regulations for collecting money for the furtherance of terrorism or specified terrorist activities.

Senior counsel Anil Silva and M. A. Sumanthiran filed written submission on behalf of the accused journalist at the last date of inquiry.

The defence stated in its submission that the position of the 99 prosecution during the trial was that the accused journalist had written those said passages intending to record evidence against the government to be used at a War Crimes Tribunal, and not what he is originally charged with, and therefore, he should be acquitted.

The defence stated that it is an axiomatic principle that the accused cannot be found guilty of what he was not charged with. Therefore, he cannot be found guilty of “intending to record evidence to be used at a war crimes tribunal," which in any case is not an offence.

Defense also stated that the circumstances that led to the arrest of Tissainayagam also throw some light on whether he can even be charged with these offences.

According to the prosecution Tissainayagam was arrested at the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) when he went to visit some colleagues who had been arrested the previous day. After the said illegal arrest, the police went looking to find some incriminating evidence, and all they did was seize several issues of the North Eastern Monthly. However, even the officer who seized the magazine did not understand what was written in the magazine.

The defense further stated in their written submission that the prosecution has taken up the position that the accused has been charged with the offence only because he is aTamil.

Tissainayagam has not done anything as against any religious, racial or linguistic or regional group or community. He only criticized the government and the State security forces, and did not direct any criticism or attack against any race or religion, the defence submitted.

The defence position was that the prosecution has not established that the writer maliciously intended to write the article in question so as to cause violence.

The accused, in his working life had always stood up for the underdog or the oppressed. He had even lost his own job on account of speaking up for other workers, the defence said in its submission filed at the last date of inquiry.

 

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