Athas case: DSG calls for enhanced sentence
Deputy Solicitor General Dapula de Livera called for the maximum sentence to be passed on the two Air Force officers who were sentenced to 10 years RI for unlawful trespass and intimidation of The Sunday Times defence correspondent and Consultant Editor Iqbal Athas.
He was concluding his submissions in the appeal against the judgment.
He said in the present context of media freedom, a signal should go to the general public with the punishment imposed on the two men who were convicted of intimidating the senior journalist.
He said the sentence of eight years rigorous imprisonment on the convicts was ‘manifestly inadequate’.
Two officers Squadron Leader H.M. Rukman Herath and Sujeewa Kannangara were sentenced by the High Court to ten years RI and a fine of Rs, 10,000 each for criminal trespass into the residence of the family of Iqbal Athas and intimidation by using a firearm on Mr. and Mrs Athas in February 1998.
Mr. Livera said these officers were goons who were used to scare the journalist to refrain from writing articles about the corruption taking place in the procurement of arms and ammunition for the Air Force.
He stated the officers had planned every move and it was proved beyond reasonable doubt in the High Court. The sentence meted to them was inadequate for a crime of this nature which, in fact, should carry a maximum of 14 years, he said.
Mr. de Livera said Iqbal Athas was a senior journalist who wrote in the interests of the public.
Making an application for enhancement of the sentence, the DSG said every aspect of the offences and also all the alternatives had been proved by the prosecution in the High Court.
The Bench comprising Justices S.I. Imam and Sarath de Abrew fixed November 16 for oral submission by the counsel for the convicts, when a date for written submissions would be taken up on that date.