Extracts of Fonseka speech submissible - Court

‘White Flag’ Trial-at-Bar
By Manopriya Gunasekara

The High Court Trial-at-Bar, hearing the case against former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka for his remarks to The Sunday Leader newspaper, claiming that Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa ordered not to spare any of the LTTE leaders surrendering, on Thursday allowed the Prosecution to produce a section of a tape of a public speech by Mr. Fonseka during the Presidential campaign, to be considered as evidence in the case.

Mr. Fonseka is charged with making a false statement to The Sunday Leader newspaper, and in consequence, directly or indirectly arousing communal and anti-government feeling among the public by making such statements.

The Court overruled objections by Defence Counsel that the tape contained only extracts of a speech made by Mr. Fonseka, and hence its production was contrary to the Evidence Ordinance. The Trial-at-Bar Bench comprises Justices Deepali Wijesundara (President), W.T.M.P.B. Warawewa and M.S. Razeen.

Senior Defence Counsel Nalin Ladduwahetti earlier objected to the production of extracts of the speech made by Mr. Fonseka at a public rally in Ratnapura, on the grounds it would distort the original meaning made during a 45-minute speech.

The Court allowed the Prosecution to produce a tape which contains one-and-a-half minutes of Mr. Fonseka’s speech which was used in a news bulletin by Derana TV.

The Court considered written and oral submissions made by both the Prosecution and Defence counsel, and held that the Prosecution had the legal right to produce extracts of the tape.

The Court held that Defence counsel had not proved that the extracts from the original tape had been altered, adding that the request not to allow consideration of the extracts from the tape was premature.
The Court held that granting permission to produce the extracts would not hinder any attempt by the Defence to prove that the tape had been tampered with.

The Court was also informed that Deputy Solicitor General Buwenaka Aluvihare had taken over the case for the Prosecution from Deputy Solicitor General Wasantha Nawaratna Bandara.

The trial will resume on January 6 and 7, 2011, after the Court vacation.

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