The case based on evidence of The Leader Editor was not reliable: Defence

Case ends, order on November 18
By Manopriya Gunasekara

The hearing of the 'White Flag' case against former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka ended on Tuesday and order was reserved for November 18. The trial which commenced on July 21, 2010 was taken up on 57 days with 15 witnesses testifying and Mr. Fonseka making a statement from the dock.

Mr. Fonseka is indicted with having stated in an interview with The Sunday Leader newspaper that the Defence Secretary 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 assault on the guerrillas in May, 2009.
He is indicted for making a false statement to The Sunday Leader, arousing communal and anti-government feelings among the public and creating disputes among them.

Sarath Fonseka arriving at the High Court last week. Pic by Saman Kariyawasam

The Trial-at-Bar consists of Judges Deepali Wijesundara (President), W.T. M. P.B. Warawewa and M.S Razeen. Winding up his submissions Senior Defence Counsel Nalin Ladduwahetti told Courts that he had pointed out that the case based on the evidence of The Sunday Leader Editor Frederica Jansz was not reliable.

He said that the dock statement made by General Fonseka regarding his 40-year service is a special one. He said that General Fo nseka got nearly killed thrice in the course of his duties and kept his promise that he will not hand over the war to the next Army Commander.

He could have resigned and spent his years leisurely abroad whereas he decided to stay on and fight the war. It is up to the Courts to place on one side of the scale the statement by the country's only four-star General who kept his promise and on the other side the evidence of Frederica Jansz who has been found guilty of contempt of court, has discredited the Chief Justice and has also been charged in other cases for contempt, and give its verdict.

Ms Frederica Jansz had only one witness, that was Mr. Lal Wickrematunga, but he was not called. The benefit of the doubt should be given to the accused. She said that The Sunday Leader had promised to support General Fonseka for the presidential election for which the UNP had paid Rs. 10 lakhs weekly and the Court should consider whether the same paper which pledged support to Mr Fonseka will favour Mahinda Rajapaksa.

In the case only Mr. Lal Wickrematunga testified as a witness, the reporter Rashmi Wijewardena and photographer Thushitha Kumara were dropped at the beginning of the case. Therefore the benefit of the doubt must be given to the General.

Ms. Frederica Jansz is the only witness and if there is any doubt about the evidence given, the benefit of the doubt should be given to the accused. Regarding the allegations against Mr. Fonseka people make various comments. If you listen to what is spoken at tea-kiosks in the country half of the country should be jailed.

If Mr. Fonseka is found guilty it should be proved that he used the particular words. He was not a presidential candidate from childhood, but only for 42 days. Just 10 days after the election he was arrested. In his evidence he had said that Frederica was not suited to be even an office peon.
Though she told court that both words 'wanted' and 'attempted' are the same, Prof Ashley Halpe said it was wrong. Lord Blackstone had said even if 10 offenders were released and if one innocent man was treated as an offender it is wrong. In cases where it is 50 - 50, the benefit of the doubt goes to the accused, here it is 90 per cent. So the General should get the benefit of the doubt.

The world is waiting to know the result of this case. Frederica was as jealous of me just as she was of Sinha Ratnatunga and Tissa Kariyawasam. She does what is good for her and has no faith in courts. I have proved that before.

Can one reject the words of the General who underwent a major operation and returned to the battle field to win the war, asked Senior Defence Counsel Ladduwahetti.

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