Supreme Court reserves order on General Ratwatte appeal

[TamilNet, Friday, 20 June 2003, 00:01 GMT]
The Supreme Court Thursday reserved its order for a later date on the appeal of the fifteen accused in the Udathalawinne massacre case including former Defence Minister General Ratwatte and his two sons Lohan and Chanuka against the High Court rejection of their bail application Wednesday, legal sources said.

Few months ago the same High Court Judges of the Trial-at-Bar inquiring into the Udathalawinne massacre case refused bail for the accused. But the judges did not give reasons for the rejection of the bail application at that time, legal sources said.

The accused then filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the High Court bail refusal. The Supreme Court after inquiry into the appeal directed the High Court Trial-at-Bar to consider the question of refusing the release on bail of the accused in terms of section 14 of the Bail Act and to make an order giving reasons as required by Section 15 after hearing the Attorney General and the defence, considering the relevant material.

The Supreme Court also directed the High Court Trial-at-Bar to submit its reasons in the case of refusing bail, before June 19, 2003.

However, the three member Trial-at-Bar Judges delivered their order Wednesday, one day ahead of the deadline by the Supreme Court, with two judges refusing the bail for the accused for the second time.

One HC Judge Mr.Sunil Rajapakse who issued a dissenting order stated that he did not object to granting bail on all the accused under strict conditions. The other two judges Mr. Eric Basnayake and Mr.Deepali Wijesundera rejected the bail application.

They stated in their order that although there was no evidence of any threat or intimidation to witnesses, the majority of the accused were members of the armed forces and the victims received gunshot injuries. The statement further said that most of the witnesses were villagers and the court also had considered the seriousness of the charges framed against the accused.

High Court's order refusing bail with its reasons was sent to the Supreme Court the same day Wednesday and it came up for inquiry Thursday morning before a three member Bench of the Supreme Court presided by the Chief Justice Mr.Sarath N.Silva.

President Counsel Mr.D.S.Wijesinghe appeared for the accused and argued that the rejection of the bail application by majority decision went against the order of the Supreme Court. It was unfair to refuse bail for reasons such as seriousness of allegations and the threat to the witnesses.

State Council Mr.Shamindra Fernando representing the Attorney General said he was opposing granting of bail to the accused since the evidence of the eyewitnesses to the massacre is currently being recorded.

At the conclusion of the inquiry the Supreme Court reserved its order for a later date, legal sources said.

 

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