28th May 2000
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UN not welcome here to mediate 

By Roshan Peiris
Leading lawyer and President of the newly formed Sihala Urumaya formed to look after the welfare of the Sinhala people, S.L.Gunasekera said "Be it UN mediation or mediation by God Himself it wouldn't make any difference to the LTTE."

Mr. Gunasekera who is normally an unflustered and calm man was angry and said, " At a negotiating table the LTTE whom I categorise as being criminal, destructive and robbers will never give back to a Sinhala government what they have gained through thuggery and robbery. The LTTE will not give up anything through mediation be it by the United Nations or any organisation for that matter." 

Minister of Industrial Development C.V. Gooneratne said " For the UN to mediate the request must come from our President who is adroitly handling the Jaffna issue on a daily basis. Unfortunately there are many unpatriotic people here with hidden political agendas who see military set backs. These people are a pathetic lot who strut about in a frenzy with baseless rumours of the fall of Jaffna being imminent. This excites those outside the country, but the UN must wait for a request from the President and the Government to mediate." 

One time strongman of the UNP and now the leader of the Puravesi Peramuna, Sirisena Cooray said " I say a definite 'no' in capital letters-no less. The Jaffna issue with UN intervention will become internationalised and our hands will be well and truly tied, to carry out positive steps. 

Joseph Pararajasingham, leader of the TULF in Parliament said "UN mediation for peace keeping is fine. But already we have welcomed mediation from Norway and India. Mediation by the United Nations will only upset their efforts. It is best the UN keeps off mediation efforts for a while."

Bradman Weerakoon, one time Presidential Advisor to President Premadasa said "We have already assigned the role of mediator to Norway, so we might complicate matters by trying to involve the UN."

Mr. Weerakoon elucidated his statement by pointing to the fact that Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar had categorically rejected UN mediation. So I think it is best and wise to leave Norway to facilitate since Norway has been accepted by the Government."

Vernon Mendis, Director General of the Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute with many years of experience in the Foreign Office said "The UN can play a friendly role and help is possible towards a peaceful settlement of the Jaffna crisis."

Paul Perera, a senior member of the UNP working committee said, "The party so far has not taken a decision whether the UN should mediate because it is a factor that has to be considered by our leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. So far as I am aware no decision on UN mediation in the Jaffna issue has been taken."

Dinesh Gunewardena, leader of the MEP was quite emphatic that the Jaffna issue was an internal problem. " It is an attempt to divide the country by the LTTE and impinge on the country's territorial integrity."

Mr. Gunawardena added " An organisation like the UN or for that matter any other organisation or country should resolve not to mediate or interfere in anyway on behalf of a terrorist group like the LTTE. It is detrimental to the interests of our country." 

Editor's conviction based on imagery

Additional Solicitor General Rienzie Arsecularatne told the Court of Appeal that the trial judge had considered several factors in the article when convicting The Sunday Times editor of criminal defamation.

The Sunday Times editor was convicted of criminal defamation of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga by way of a gossip column that appeared in the newspaper.

The news item reported that President Kumaratunga had attended the private birthday party of Parliamentarian Asitha Perera at his permanent suite at the Hotel Lanka Oberoi, but later turned out to be false. 

The ASG said the judge had considered among other factors the fact that the article mentioned that the President entered the party by the rear entrance of Hotel Lanka Oberoi. The time at which the President arrived and left was overemphasised. The time at which the guests arrived and left had not even been mentioned in the other parties referred to in the article. 

He also submitted that the President's alleged conduct went against the social mores of the country and that no one would think better of the President by reading the article. The trial judge had considered that the image of the President is projected as a person who does things on the sly, pointing to a lack of moral courage.

Justice Kulatillake: What is important is the image portrayed in the mind of the average reader after reading the article in toto.

Counsel: Yes My Lord, the article must be considered as a whole as opposed to words, sentences or paragraphs to be considered in isolation or out of context.

Justice Yapa: One allegation is that the trial judge has tried to paraphrase the article, that is the argument of the defence. Where you call a person a criminal then it is obviously defamatory, but here it is not the case. The defence says the words were taken in isolation by the trial judge.

Counsel: My Lord, Mr. Marapana said the trial judge paraphrased the article. In the Oxford Dictionary the meaning of the word paraphrase is, 'a free rendering or rewording of a passage, expressing the meaning of a passage in other words'. The trial judge has not reworded or expressed anything in the article in different words. Mr. Marapana's submission was that the judge did violence to the article by paraphrasing it. My submission is that the defence counsel has done violence to the word 'paraphrase'. 

The learned Defence Counsel also submitted that the trial judge had considered expressions like 'in the heat of the silent night' and 'Epicurean tastes' in isolation. But Mr. Arsecularatne submitted that let alone those expressions, the manner and time of entry and time of departure is in itself defamatory.

Justice Kulatillake: The ordinary reader is kept in the dark as to what happened inside.

Counsel: Yes, My Lord. Things like the manner of entry, the time of departure, the fact that Her Excellency was more circumspect this time do not need interpretation as opposed to the above mentioned expression which is bound to make the reader read between the lines. 

The ASG quoted a passage from the book 'The Law of Defamation' by Mehrotra which said that if a statement brings the plaintiff into ridicule even though it does not suggest misconduct, it can be defamatory......(to be continued)

Swish! Lankan ganja in Zurich

The cultivation of ganja one thought was confined to Sri Lanka, but it has now been grown in Zurich as well by none other than our own brethren, police sources in Colombo said yesterday.

According to police sources a ganja plantation in Zurich was raided in December last year. It was not a plantation covering acres or even perches, but occupying a cellar and was covered by polythene when the raid took place.

The Zurich Police took into custody about 80 kgs of ganja. At the time of the raid there were ten Sri Lankans employed there including some women. 

It is learnt that the employees were in the process of separating the leaves and the flowers. Local police sources said that the flowers could be used for the making of hashish, which has a lucrative market in Europe. The cellar was earlier used as a store.

The mini ganja plantation was said to be owned by two Sri Lankans. Both of them had studied in a leading college. The main man behind the project has been in Zurich for the last four years and is living in a villa valued at several million Swiss francs, in one of the most exclusive suburbs in Switzerland.

The other partner is running a travel agency in Switzerland, sources said. Some of those employed by the two are Sri Lankan asylum seekers, who went underground but three were arrested and deported with their application for asylum being rejected as they were living illegally.

The main cutter-an expert in the art of ganja cutting- is a Lankan married to an African woman and has a permit to live there, sources said.

One of the deportees is from the expert's village here .Sources also told the Sunday Times that the Sri Lankan police would be getting in touch with their counterparts in Switzerland to tie up the loose ends.

Meanwhile, the kingpin is under scrutiny by the Swiss law enforcers to ascertain as to how he had accumulated so much wealth to own a villa, in so short a time as four years.


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