Permanent Magistrate to expedite Kumarapuram hearings

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 09 June 1998, 23:59 GMT]
The hopes of expediting hearings on the Kumarapuram massacre case at the Muttur Magistrate Court were revived with the appointment of a permanent magistrate for Muttur on June 1, said sources in Trincomalee.

The massacre, in which 24 civillians were killed and an equal number wounded, took place on the 11th of February 1996, when a large number of Sri Lankan Army personnel from the Kilivetti camp entered the village and retaliated for the killing of two soldiers at a nearby check point.

R. M. Jayawardene, appointed by the Judicial Services Commission, replaces Acting Magistrate, Mr. Liyanage who was sent on compulsory retirement early this year.

Mr Linayage, the Additional Magistrate, had been hearing the case from its inception until January of this year, when he was sent on compulsory retirement by the Judicial Services commission, allegedly due to alcoholism. At the time of his retirement evidence had been recorded from only 48 of the 124 witnesses.

After the compulsory retirement of Mr. Liyanage, hearings were repeatedly postponed. Human rights organisations expressed concern that the Government was trying to put the issue on the back burner by not appointing a regular magistrate.

Mr. Jayewardene's appointment is different from that of his predecessor‚s since he is a permanent Magistrate for Muttur, while being Additional District Judge, Trincomalee and Magistrate, Trincomalee. Mr. Jayewardene has said that he will expedite matters in the Kumarapuram massacre by continuing where his predecessor left off and only hear evidence from a few more witnesses before referring the matter to the High Court.

There was fear that the new magistrate would re-hear even the witnesses already called and thus delay the proceedings.


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