Attorney General Yuvanjan Wijeyatilake, refuting recent criticism of him and his department in relation to major allegations, has pledged he will not give into pressure to go in for show trials without substantial evidence. In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Times, the Attorney General said: Q: You have sent a fresh directive to the [...]


AG says he won’t go for show trials


Attorney General Yuvanjan Wijeyatilake, refuting recent criticism of him and his department in relation to major allegations, has pledged he will not give into pressure to go in for show trials without substantial evidence. In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Times, the Attorney General said:

Attorney General Yuvanjan Wijeyatilake

Q: You have sent a fresh directive to the IGP to accelerate investigations into the charges made in the writ application against KP. When did you issue the first directive?
A: I must explain to you that the sequence of events leading up to the recent advice given to the IGP to investigate allegations against KP was as follows: 6 months ago, I inquired from the police whether there was material available against KP with regard to his involvement in 193 incidents listed in the Petition in the Court of Appeal case (CA Writ Application No.08/2015). It was a few days prior to the last court date in that case that the police sent us a dossier containing information pertaining to some of the incidents in issue. What we informed the Court of Appeal was based on that information submitted to us. The police had informed us that in the 46 incidents studied by them up to that point of time, KP’s involvement had not been revealed. This was exactly what the Counsel representing me in the case conveyed to court. Counsel had also informed court that, with regard to the remaining incidents, we will brief the Court of Appeal as soon as the relevant material is communicated to us by the Police Department, consequent to their investigations.

You must appreciate that, in terms of the existing law, the Attorney General cannot conduct criminal investigations, nor can the AG give directions on how to conduct investigations. We certainly do not participate in the conduct of criminal investigations either. You may recall that, from 1973 to 1979, the Administration of Justice Law created the position of Director of Public Prosecutions, and the DPP as he was then called, had the power to direct the manner in which criminal investigations were conducted. Even then, the DPP did not participate in the conduct of investigations.

Q: Does the AG have any supervisory role over CID investigations. Did the police seek your advice in the past few months over these investigations?
A: As I explained, the AG does not have any supervisory function over criminal investigations conducted by the police. For that purpose, there is a separate supervisory mechanism within the Police Department. We only advise the police. Upon the completion of criminal and forensic investigations, we consider the institution of criminal proceedings based on investigational material submitted to us by the police, and if an affirmative decision is taken, we either indict the suspect in the High Court or advise the police to charge the suspect in the Magistrate’s Court. For instance, if the police investigations do not reveal sufficient or admissible evidence against any person, the AG would not be in a position to indict him.

Q: Where is KP? Is he under protective custody in Kilinochchi?
A: I don’t know where KP is. You will have to get this information from the appropriate authorities.

Q: What is meant by ‘protective custody’?
A: Custody, where the objective of such custody is to protect the person being held in custody or the detention of a person for their own protection.

Q: Was there no need to arrest him?
A: If there is sufficient evidence to believe that KP has committed any offence, he should necessarily be arrested in terms of the law.

Q: Are the investigations relating to KP only related to the writ application – what about his being wanted by India in connection with the Rajiv Gandhi assassination; gun running and other cases?
A: As I explained before, investigations are the domain of the police. You would probably have to direct this question to the appropriate authority.

However, it is necessary to clearly understand the role of the Attorney General as there appears to be some confusion. In criminal law matters, criminal prosecutions in the High Courts are led by State Counsel based on findings in investigations by the police. However, the case under discussion is not a criminal prosecution, but a case only seeking a Writ of Mandamus from the Court of Appeal compelling the State to initiate criminal proceedings in respect of the 193 incidents set out in the Petition. The importance of police investigations and discovering evidence is for the purposes of potential criminal proceedings in respect of alleged offences – in this case the 193 allegations. However, the decision to initiate criminal proceedings can only be taken after considering the evidence presented to us by the police.

Q: Did the Government of Sri Lanka ask the Cambodian Government to keep a tab on Sri Lankans visiting Cambodia as a result of KP using that country as a base for LTTE gun running?

A: As that is a matter pertaining to foreign relations, it is best that these questions be raised with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Q: Have there been any investigations into the LTTE bank accounts maintained by KP?

A: That too is a question to be raised with the IGP as it pertains to investigations conducted by the Police Department.

Q: The Interpol had issued a Red Notice on KP after he was declared a most wanted terrorist. Didn’t the CID give a proper brief about the allegations against KP?

A: That is a very general question pertaining to Interpol matters. But if you are referring to the 193 allegations cited by the Petitioner in the Writ Application before the Court of Appeal, our queries to the Police Department were based on these incidents and we specifically called for observations of the police on those. Thus, the response of the police was also focused on those matters only. They explained to us that they did not have sufficient time to brief us on all of the 193 incidents. You must understand that, the Attorney General’s Department is not involved, or required to be, in charge of an overall criminal investigation process against KP. We were merely responding to the writ application and we had to rely necessarily on the briefing we got from the police.

Q: KP is known to have taken the war from one stage to the other leading to the highest level. Were these details not made available in the findings?
A: I assume that my previous answers would adequately answer this question.

Q: What was the basis on which the case against Avant Garde was dropped?
A: I did not direct that the Avant Garde investigation be closed. I merely considered the investigational material submitted to us by the police and whether there was sufficient material for the institution of criminal proceedings. Based on the available material, it was decided that charges could not be framed under the Firearms Ordinance, the Explosives Act, the Prevention of Terrorism Act or the Penal Code. I merely conveyed my opinion on the matter to the police. The hard fact is, I have to consider the investigational material objectively. I did so. I have to see whether the available material has the potential of being converted into admissible evidence in a court of law. I did that as well. I also have to consider whether there is a possibility of framing charges based on the presently available material and whether that could be successfully relied on by a prosecutor of my Department. I did so, and concluded that the material that the police had submitted to us was insufficient to frame charges. That was the basis of my advice to the police. However, at the time I was aware that the Bribery Commission had already commenced investigations into allegations of corruption relating to the Floating Armoury. So I gave the CID specific instructions to provide to the Bribery Commission any evidence in their possession with regard to this aspect.

Q: In a statement issued by you this week, it is said that there are no criminal charges that could be preferred against anyone. Can you please elaborate?
A: That is incorrect. My statement does not make such a general comment that no criminal charges could not be preferred against anyone. I only clarified that, in the Avant Garde case, the material made available to me was not sufficient to frame charges as explained by me earlier. My statement and that of the Legal Officers’ Association of my Department, elaborate in detail the background to this.

Q: Have you had interested parties applying pressure regarding this matter?
A: Pressure has only come from some media organisations asking for a show trial and not from individuals or the Government. And in any event, I don’t succumb to such pressure.

Q: Constitutional coup? Can you tell us what is happening?
A: First of all, I am not supervising this matter because I have given a statement as a witness. But I can tell you that the material submitted to our Department has been considered and the CID has been provisionally advised to conduct further investigations.

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