Confessions in Mirusuvil massacre case valid - Supreme Court

[TamilNet, Friday, 19 March 2004, 16:50 GMT]
The inquiry into the Mirusuvil massacre case is to recommence in the High Court of Colombo shortly as the Supreme Court last Tuesday dismissed an appeal made by one of the five accused soldiers of the Sri Lanka Army against the order of the Trial-at-Bar judges on the admissibility of confessions by the accused made to the military police officers, legal sources said.

In this case the Attorney General has indicted five army soldiers, Sunil Ratnayake, Senaka Munasinghe, T.M.Jayaratne, Pushpa Saman Kumara and Gamini Munasinghe on 19 charges in the murder of eight Tamil civilians, namely, Gnanapalan Raviveeran, Sellamuthu Theivakulasingham, Vilvarajah Piratheepan, Sinniah Vilvarajah, Nadesu Jeyachchandran, Kathiran Gnanachchandran, Gnanachandran Santhan and Vilvarajah Prasath on December 19, 2000, legal sources said.

The Trial-at-Bar inquiry into the Mirusuvil massacre case commenced on January 29 last year. The defense objected when the prosecution led the evidence of a military police officer who recorded the confession of one of the accused Sunil Ratnayake. However the Trail-at-Bar judges held that the confession made by the accused to a military police officer was admissible as the military police officer was not a police officer within the meaning of Section 23 of the Evidence ordinance, legal sources said.

The accused Mr.Sunil Ratnayake then promptly lodged an appeal in the Supreme Court against the order of the Trial-at-Bar judges on June 23 last year. Since then the Trial-at-Bar inquiry was suspended till the Supreme Court delivered its determination on the appeal, legal sources said.

The appeal came up for inquiry before a five-member bench of the Supreme Court Tuesday. The bench comprised the Chief Justice Mr. Sarath N Silva, Justices Shiranee Bandaranaike, Hector S.Yapa, Asoka de Silva and Nihal Jayasinghe.

The Senior State Counsel Mr.Sarath Jayamanne gave an undertaking to the defense during the course of inquiry in the Supreme Court that the prosecution in the Mirusuvil massacre case would not base their case on the confessions made by the accused to military police officers in view of the judgment in the Krishanthy Kumarasamy murder appeal where the Supreme Court included the military officer into the definition of the police officer in terms of Section 25 of the Evidence Ordinance holding that a confession made to a military police officer could not be admissible as evidence, legal sources said..

Thereafter the defense counsel Dr.Ranjit Fernando withdrew the appeal in view of the undertaking given by the Senior State Counsel. Hence the SC dismissed the appeal, legal sources said.

Legal sources said the stalled inquiry into the Mirusuvil massacre case is to resume shortly in the Trial-at-Bar.


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