ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday December 16, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 29

DSG objects to defence counsel’s lengthy reply - Athas case

By Telles Anandappa

Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) Dapula de Livera raised objections to defence counsel making a lengthy reply after making a brief opening submission in the appeal filed by two Air Force officers who were found guilty of intimidation of The Sunday Times Defence Correspondent Iqbal Athas and his family.The DSG said the State had made its case known and defence counsel presented brief submissions at the beginning but was thereafter giving a lengthy reply.

The officers Rukman Herath and Don Pradeep Sujeewa Kannangara were sentenced by the Colombo High Court on two counts for ten years and a fine of Rs 10,000, in default, another year to be added to the sentence. The officers were charged with unlawful entry and intimidation using firearms threatening Mr. Athas to stop publishing articles against the Air Force Commander with regard to the corruption that takes place in the procurement of arms and ammunition and military equipment for the Air Force.

The case was taken up on Friday before Justices M.I Immam and Sarath de Abrew. In his reply to the submissions made by the DSG, Ranjith Abeysuriya PC, counsel for the Air Force officers said there was an element of doubt in the way the identification parade was conducted.

He said the procedure adhered to was manipulated by the CID and the chief officer who organized the people to appear for the identification parade, made it easy and convenient that the two officers could be identified by Mr. and Mrs. Athas. He also said that the chief officer was not aware of the description or any particulars with regard to the appearance of the two officers so that he could find people to resemble the two officers at the parade.

He further said that the second accused, Kannangara made a dock statement which was not doubted by the Colombo High Court judge and said that the dock statement should be considered in this case. At this point the DSG objected to the way defence counsel was conducting the case.

The DSG said that in his opening submissions the defence counsel presented a brief submission and now in his reply was making a lengthy reply, which was irregular, after the State had concluded its submission. The DSG requested Court that he be granted permission to submit his written submissions and then defence counsel had the right of reply.

Justice Imman then allowed Mr. Abeysuriya to continue with his reply which he said he was not in a frame of mind to do and requested a later date to continue. The case is to be resumed on January 17, 2008.

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