Sirasa TV station cameraman Nandana Wimalasena told the High Court Trial-at-Bar on the 'White Flag' case this week that former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka, in a press conference after the publication of The Sunday Leader interview with him, said certain statements made by him to the newspaper had been distorted.
He said Mr. Fonseka had said he was expecting a correction would be carried regarding the matter.
Mr. Fonseka is charged for stating in an interview to The Sunday Leader newspaper that Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa had ordered not to spare any of the LTTE cadres surrendering even if they were coming with white flags, during the last stages of the military offensive.
He is charged for making a false statement to The Sunday Leader, arousing communal feelings and arousing anti-government feelings among the public and creating disputes among them.
The Trial-at-Bar consists of Judges Deepali Wijesundara (President), W.T. M. P.B. Warawewa and M.S Razeen.
The cameraman said he had recorded several press conferences and this was one among them.
(The recording of the press conference was played in Court)
Extracts from Mr. Fonseka’s comments at the press conference from the CD played in court:
“A response by me to the media has been distorted in a manner that a wrong impression was given. I personally take responsibility for what happened during the war and what was done by the Army. The Army always acted on my instructions”.
“I carefully monitored them and gave instructions to them. Therefore I take full responsibility for all what happened during the war ... victory, ..defeat or ….. humanitarian work …… all these.”
“Therefore I will not betray them or accuse them of anything”.
“I can definitely say that they did not act contrary to international laws or any other accepted laws. During the war a large number of terrorists were killed. That was during May 17, 18 and 19th. I had given them clear instructions to destroy the terrorists. During the war no terrorist leader attempted to surrender with white flags. There was no such situation”.
“If there are any allegations against the soldiers violating human rights, or killing of terrorists when they attempted to surrender, I am ready to accept the responsibility of such allegations and respond to them. I am ready to face any court”.
“There was no necessity for anyone else to give orders to kill the terrorists in accordance with legal military strategy. I had given these orders”.
“I can definitely say that nobody came with white flags raising their arms to surrender”.
“The news item that appeared mentions about a telephone call received by General Shavendra Silva, who was in the battle front.
I received this message two weeks later after the terrorists were killed. I received it from a media person who was covering the war from the area which was under the purview of Gen. Shavendra Silva. It was about a telephone call he received from the Defence Secretary on the 17th night”.
(At this point at the press conference Mr. Fonseka was questioned by a journalist whether he intends to take legal action against the particular news report).
Mr. Fonseka said “When I read the news item, I too thought that there would be a wrong impression created. I expected that the journalist who wrote that will clarify the point and make a correction”.
(A journalist questioned Mr. Fonseka at the press conference as to whether there was a political motivation behind this news report)
“I don’t think so. Usually we have interviews with media personnel and sometimes the exact words are not reported. There may be shortcomings. I do not think it was done deliberately to put us in difficulty”.
(The CD played in Court ends).
Senior State Counsel (SSC) Dilan Ratnayake then led the evidence of witness Derana Senior News Producer Chathura Asanka Alwis (AA).
Senior State Counsel: Has the recorded version been changed?
AA: Yes, it has been edited.
SSC: What does the word ‘editing’ mean?
AA: It means 'sanskaranaya karanawa' (editing)
(Examination of the witness ends.)
Cross-examination by Senior Defence Counsel Nalin Laduwahetti (NL) commenced.
The witness said that Gen. Fonseka during the press conference mentioned he was expecting a correction would be carried.NL: Did you hear General Fonseka saying that the response given by him to a question was wrongly published.
SSC: I object to that question about asking the opinion of the witness.
(Court granted permission to ask the question.)
AA: What I heard is that Mr. Fonseka said that what had been reported gives a wrong impression.
Witness Saranga Kalubowila, Director News, Sirasa then gave evidence.
Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) Buwenaka Aluvihara then led the evidence of the next witness Director News, Sirasa Saranga Kalubowila (SK).
DSG: Have you heard that the news which had been broadcast by Sirasa had been changed later?
Mr. Kalubowila explained to Court that there is a certain procedure followed by Sirasa when it uses quotes of persons for the news bulletin.
Mr. Kalubowila was later cross examined by Mr. Laduwahetti.
Former Colombo Chief Magistrate Champa Janaki Rajaratna on Wednesday told the High Court Trial-at-Bar in the 'White Flag' case that the note book of The Sunday Leader Editor Frederica Jansz (who interviewed Mr. Fonseka), was handed over to Court. She said it was intact and she did not notice that the binding of the book had got broken.
Ms. Rajaratna who is currently the Gangodawila Additional District Judge said that the note book was handed over to the Magistrate’s Court on June 21, 2010.
Deputy Solicitor General Buwenaka Aluvihare (DSG) led the evidence of Ms. Rajaratna (ADJ-CJR).
DSG: Was this case was taken up on June 7 (2010) before you in open court?
DSG: Did the prosecution make a request for this?
DSG: Was it a request that a document (note book) with Ms. Jansz be handed over to courts?
DSG: Did you allow the request?
DSG: Did you issue notice on Ms. Jansz to produce the document (note book)?
DSG: Have you made notes regarding these observations?
ADJ-CJR: I dictated it to the stenographer and after reading it I placed my signature.
DSG: Did Ms. Jansz appear in court according to your order?
DSG: Did she have a lawyer on her behalf?
ADJ-CJR: I have made my observations in the records.
DSG: Can you read that?
ADJ-CJR: There are five lines. It has been recorded that points made by the Prosecution and the Defence lawyers have been noted. Ms. Jansz present in court and she is represented by the lawyer, Sayeed.
DSG: At this point did Ms. Jansz hand over anything to court?
ADJ-CJR: She handed over a note book. I took over the note book. It was not taken as a production in court, but on the request of the Prosecution. Therefore, a detailed examination of the item was not carried out. The pages were not numbered. I mentioned this to the DSG who was present. Accordingly, the court interpreter counted the pages in a manner that it could be observed by others in court. There were 89 pages and the bottom part of two pages had been torn. There were a few blank pages at the end. As I wanted to ensure that the book is protected, the pages were counted. I dictated my observations to the stenographer which were recorded.
The Prosecution asked that the book be sealed. Accordingly, I ordered the Registrar to seal it. I sent the book to my Chamber. I told the Registrar to seal it in my room. A minute later I asked the Registrar whether he had sealed it and he told me it had been done.
DSG: Was the sealed book shown to you?
ADJ-CJR: I remember he showed me the sealed cover.
DSG: Did you notice that two pages in the centre were torn at the end?
ADJ-CJR: Yes, in open court when the interpreter showed it to me, I made notes regarding it.
DSG: Did you take this case up on July 28, 2010?
ADJ-CJR: I was not holding that position after June 30, 2010.
DSG: If the particular note book is shown to you can you recognize it?
ADJ-CJR: A large number of cases are called per day. However, I have a general memory about this book.
(Ms. Rajaratna examined the book and continued her evidence)
On the face of it this looks the same book, but I did not see the binding loosened (removed) at that time.
DSG: Subject to the issue of the book being loosened, does it look the same book?
ADJ-CJR: I can say only on the face of it.
(Ms. Rajaratna said she could identify the envelope showed by the DSG which contains the seal of the Colombo Chief Magistrate)
DSG: Could you definitely say that this is the seal placed by the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s court?
ADJ-CJR: I cannot give an explanation.
DSG: Do you recall that this book was sealed in an envelope?
ADJ-CJR: I have a general recollection. I cannot remember 100 per cent.
DSG: Before anything is marked as a court production, they are usually put in this type of envelope.
ADJ-CJR: Usually, it is sealed in this type of envelope.
DSG: Can you recognize the handwriting?
ADJ-CJR: No. I did not pay attention to that.
Mr. Nalin Ladduwahetti, Senior Defence Counsel for Mr. Fonseka informed the Trial-at-Bar that he does not intend to cross-examine the former Chief Magistrate.
(DSG leads evidence of the next witness: Mohammed Sayeed (MS), Attorney-at-Law who appeared on behalf of Ms. Jansz at the Chief Magistrate's Court)
DSG: You appeared in court in relation to case No. 6314/1.
DSG: Did you present the note book of Ms. Jansz to court?
DSG: Did she (Ms. Jansz) present the book?
MS: She handed over the book to me and I handed it over to court.
DSG: Was she present in court?
DSG: Could you identify the note book, if you see it again?
(The note book was shown to him and he identified the note book).
DSG: Did the court examine this note book when it was handed over?
MS: Yes, I can remember that very clearly.
(DSG ends examining the witness and the Senior Defence Counsel informed court that he had no intention of cross-examining the witness).
Sirasa TV announcer Ms. Aruni Omaya was examined by the DSG and the Defence Counsel informed court that he had no intention of cross-examining the witness.
CID Police Inspector Asela Indrajith and Sub Inspector H.M.Janananda of the CID (Commercial Crime) division who recorded statements of three journalists at the Derana TV station gave evidence.
The trial will resume on Tuesday, Janauary 25.
Defence Sec. noticed to appear
The High Court Trial-at-Bar this week issued notice on Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa to appear on January 25.
Summons was also issued on the Police officer who recorded the statement of former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka.