17th January 1999
An honourable man was denigrated
It has been said as if to denigrate the Sinhala race, it has not produced a single suicide killer as against hundreds produced by Velupillai Prabhakaran. The BBC has shown the eagerness in which LTTE cadres prepare themselves for a mission that would end in their destruction and that of their enemies for the liberation of the Tamil people and for Eelam.
The Sinhalese need not be ashamed of themselves after Justice Tissa Dias Bandaranaike wrote the report on the assassination of Lt. General D.L. Kobbekaduwa. A Sinhala suicide bomber was produced by Ranasinghe Premadasa, the then President of the country. He had a greater mission than Prabhakaran. He had to find a faithful Army Officer who would kill the best loved General of the Sri Lanka Army- Lt. General Denzil Kobbekaduwa and in the process sacrifice his life.
According to Justice Bandaranaike's Report, Lt. Colonel Hapugoda Roland Stephen who died with Lt. General Kobbedaduwa, knew that an Internal Explosive Device [IED] had been fixed in the Jeep in which Kobbekaduwa was travelling. As a precautionary measure before the killing of Lt. General Kobbekaduwa , Stephen had even transferred a property at Katugastota two weeks prior to his death. Stephen while travelling with Mr. Kobbekaduwa with the IED inside the Jeep may have wanted even in death to have his limbs intact. This is what the Report says, "He must have been seated towards the left side, well away as far as possible from the IED in the vehicle which was on the right side or far side towards the rear. If this was so Stephen knew where the IED was". Imagine a Commanding Officer of the Sri Lanka Army in the Island of Kayts travelling in a Jeep loaded with explosives knowing with certainty that the IED would explode at any moment though he had enough opportunity to stop the vehicle and shout Eureka! Eureka! IED! IED! and run away from the Jeep pretending that some devil had possessed him. Stephen would not even dream of doing such a thing, as he wanted to sacrifice his life to stop Kobbekaduwa becoming a threat to his beloved leader Ranasinghe Premadasa!
It was this kind of report that appeared regarding one of the most honourable public servants, Upawansa Yapa who later through the intervention of Attorney General Sarath N. Silva became the Solicitor General of the country. It is said one of the crimes that Mr. Yapa committed was not to yield to pressure to subvert justice and compromise his position to send out indictments against a driver who was involved in a fatal accident. According to the thinking of Mr. Yapa he had to make decisions which were of a quasi-judicial nature. He had to decide on the material and evidence collected by the Police and decide whether it justified sending out indictments against suspects. If he was of the opinion the material was insufficient to frame charges he had to use his discretion judiciously and inform the Police that the evidence did not warrant the framing of charges against the suspects. But in this case due to the involvement of a VVIP's relation in the accident, pressure was on Mr. Yapa to send an indictment against the driver but he correctly and as was expected of the Attorney-General's Department refused to do so.
During the pendancy of the Commission of Inquiry into the deaths of Denzil Kobbekaduwa and Lalith Athulathmudali two Judges picked by Tissa Bandaranaike, the Chairman and recommended to the President to be appointed as Commissioners resigned. They were Supreme Court Judge Justice D.P.S. Gunasekera and High Court Judge, Badulla Gamini Amaratunga.
This happened soon after Tissa Bandaranaike, the Chairman without consulting other members of the Commission, decided to impound the passport of Mr. Yapa, the Additional Solicitor General of the country. This is what the Report states about the impoundment of the passport: "In this state, where Mr. Yapa has failed to call for relevant documents basic to any proper inquiry it was that the Commission wanted to secure his presence and impound his passport as so many others were disappearing from Sri Lanka and not facing investigations of wrong doings done by the Commissions of Inquiry. Upon the intervention of the President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, Daluwatta, P.C. the Commission released the passport as it appeared that Mr. Daluwatta was taking responsibility for Mr. Yapa's attendance". The only other person who disappeared without facing a Commission of Inquiry to my mind was Douglas Pieris, Superintendent of Police against whom 'B' Reports have been filed in Court for murder. Thus it could be said the Special Commissions headed by Mr. Bandaranaike, compared and contrasted Mr. Yapa, the Additional Solicitor General of the country to the other suspected criminal elements, who had disappeared from the country.
The important factor was that when this decision was made Tissa Bandaranaike did not consult other Commissioners, Justice D.P.S. Gunasekera and Gamini Amaratunga. This was done on a holiday when the other Commissioners were not present. They knew about this situation when the news item appeared in the press. The report further states about the demeanor of Yapa: He had to be cautioned. Mr. Yapa's demeanour was most unsatisfactory. He did not cooperate at all with the inquiry. His conduct was shocking." The forthright manner in which Mr. Yapa gave evidence from the witness box may have shocked Mr. Bandaranaike. It was seen that Mr. Bandaranaike called for a glass of water and had it on his table when Mr. Yapa was giving evidence. The evidence of Mr. Yapa was reported in this column when this incident happened.
Mr. Silva, as the Attorney-General somewhat remedied the situation by recommending to the President to appoint Mr. Yapa as the Solicitor General. I believe the entire Attorney-General's Department or the most senior officers of the AG's Department agreed in unison not to defend Mr. Bandaranaike and Mr. Edirisuriya, the two Commissioners who were responsible for the report when a writ was sought to quash the findings of the Lalith Athulathmudali Commission Report. But Mr. Silva personally appeared for the Commissioners when writ was sought by Mr. Paskaralingam to quash the findings of the Special Presidential Commission to Inquire into the malpractices of Government Institutions, comprising Justice Priyantha Perera, Justice Hector Yapa and Justice Ninian Jayasuriya.
Meanwhile Rohini Hathurusinghe became an icon of the Special Presidential Commission. She was the final epitome of the absolute inveterate perjurer. It is to the credit of the Attorney, Mr. Sarath Liyanage (who watched the interests of the family of Major General Wijaya Wimalaratne), that he found out who the real Rohini Hathurusinghe was.The myth of Rohini Hathurusinghe was exposed by him and then Rohini Hathurusinghe got pregnant and made accusations about the paternity of the child.
This is what the Commission states in its Report about Rohini Haturusinghe. "The Commission has never bargained with Haturusinghe or anyone else or held out any promise of reward. If she had said so to anybody it was a confounded lie. What reliance can one place on the evidence of a person like Haturusinghe who is an obvious cheat as evidenced above. Is Liyanage (Counsel for Major General Wijaya Wimalaratne's family) treating the Commission as a joke?".
By the time the Commission finally discovered that Rohini Haturusinghe was a cheat, the statue of one of our war heroes Major General Wijaya Wimalaratne had been pulled down and the head removed from the body. There was pandemonium in the country due to the revelations made by Rohini Haturusinghe implicating President Premadasa as the prime mover of the conspiracy to murder Lt. General Kobbekaduwa. The public accepted the testimony of Rohini Haturusinghe as if it was emanating from an oracle. We believed after the publication of the reports of the two Commissions headed by Tissa Bandaranaike, the public and politicians of this country would open their eyes and see the futility of appointing any Special Presidential Commissions on any matter in the future. But yet the remarks made by the Commissioners with regard to Mr. Yapa will remain in the Report as there had been no attempt to quash the proceedings.Would anything said by anybody in power be believed even if it was true?
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