2ND LEAD (Corrections)

Tamil plaintiffs oppose US Government's stand on Rajapakse immunity

[TamilNet, Friday, 20 January 2012, 01:41 GMT]
Judge Kotelly of District Court of District of Columbia, after considering the Tamil plaintiffs' motion asking the court to allow the plaintiffs to file a response to the United States suggestion of immunity to Sri Lanka's President Rajapakse, issued an order Tuesday granting permission to plaintiffs' attorney Bruce Fein to file the response on or before 3rd February, and to the United States Government to file a reply on a before 13th February. In the process, Judge Kotelly rejected defendant Rajapakse's opposition to plaintiffs request to be permitted to respond to the U.S. Government's suggestion of immunity.

Rajapaskse's attorney Mitchell Berger from Washington lobby firm, Patton Boggs, had earlier asked the Judge to deny any further action by the plaintiffs.

Berger cited US Government's suggestion of immunity, and said the United States had demonstrated that "the Executive Branch has the sole authority to determine the immunity from suit of sitting head of state" and that "[n]o Court has ever subjected a sitting head of state to suit once the Executive Branch has suggested the head of state's immunity."

Judge Kotelly rejected Berger's argument and set dates for the plaintiff to respond and the US Government to reply.

Plaintiffs' attorney Bruce Fein told TamilNet that "while case law cited by the Justice Department showed that Courts should give deference to the US Government's position, our case is interpretation of a statute where no executive deference is due. Congressional not executive intent governs, and the Congress has given the Court the authority to make the final determination on the immunity question based on the facts of the case."

Mr. Fein added that the plaintiffs in this case are dealing with a sitting President who has amassed unprecedented power in a State where all dissent is suppressed, and a head of State who is alleged to have committed war-crimes and crimes against humanity. We hope these facts will influence Judge Kotelly's decision on the immunity question, Fein said.

Spokesperson for Tamils Against Genocide (TAG) which is sponsoring the case said, "while we are cognizant of the legal hurdle ahead of us, we are determined to record our opposition to the US Government's stand in suggesting immunity to someone alleged to have committed Universal crimes."


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