Evidence of dead witness read out in Mylanthanai massacre

[TamilNet, Friday, 18 October 2002, 19:08 GMT]
The Colombo High Court Judge Mr.S.Sriskandarajah Friday allowed an application in the Mylanthanai massacre case by the prosecution to read out the evidence of two witnesses given in the lower court to the Jury, as these witnesses could not attend court. One of the two witnesses Thavarajah Rajmohan is dead and the other witness Nallammah Nallasekaram has gone abroad and working in Kuwait.

The prosecution made the above application under section 33 of the Evidence Ordinance.

According to that section 33 if a witness who had given evidence in lower court is pronounced dead or gone abroad and cannot be brought back to the country to give evidence in the higher court, the court can allow the evidence given by such witnesses in lower court be read in higher court.

However, the defence objected to the application of the prosecution to read out the evidence of such witnesses. The High Court after hearing submissions from both sides allowed the prosecution to read out the evidence of two such witnesses to the Jury.

Following this decision the Registrar of the High Court Mr.Muttucumarana read out the evidence given by the said two witnesses in the lower court to the Sinhala speaking Jury.

Thavarajah Rajmohan who is pronounced dead had stated in his evidence in the lower court that on the day of incident he was under a mango tree with several others. At that time a group of army personnel had come to the spot and started attacking them with knives and axes. One of the hands was severed below the wrist. He later found his two sisters - eight years old Radhika and one year old Latha were killed in the attack. The witness was fourteen years old when he gave evidence in the lower court and had identified six suspects- army soldiers at the identification parade.

The Registrar then read out the lower court evidence of Nallammah Nallasekaram who is abroad. She had stated in her evidence that she and several others were standing under a huge tree near the house of one Mathavi with her children Rajanikanth and Rajah. At that time a group of army soldiers had rushed towards them with weapons and attacked them. She thereafter fainted. She then regained consciousness at Peradeniya hospital where her relatives told her that her children were safe. She identified seven suspect soldiers at the identification parade held in the lower court.

Mr.K.P.S.Varatharaja, presently Jaffna High Court Judge gave evidence. He as the Batticaloa Magistrate held identification parade at Punanai SLA camp from 21 st to 24th December in 1992.

The Attorney General had indicted eighteen army soldiers with the massacre of 35 Tamil civilians, including women and children, on 9 August, 1992 at Mylanthanai village in the Batticaloa district.

President Counsel Daya Perera with several other lawyers is appearing for the accused soldiers. Attorney-at-Law K.S.Ratnavelu with Mr. S.Shanmugalingam is watching the interests of the victims.

The inquiry is proceeding.


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