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Diary of Terror Part 10- 12 February


A Wife’s Challenge

(February 13, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) If there was coup attempt arrest me also, Sarath Fonseka’s wife, Anoma, challenged the authorities. Speaking to the media, the arrested common candidate’s wife said that if a coup plot had been hatched at the hotel in which Sarath Fonseka and his election team were staying during the last presidential election then she should also be arrested. “I should also be arrested. I was in the hotel all throughout with all the members of my family,” said Anoma Fonseka. There were many political leaders who also had taken rooms at the hotel and who were also present. Obviously she is trying to ridicule the allegation of their being a conspiracy hatched by Sarath Fonseka to assassinate the president and his family. Mrs. Fonseka went on to say that she had seen her husband in prison and that he is not in a position to answer any charges as he has not been informed of what the charges might be.

She also said that while she has been allowed to see for an hour a day which she has divided into two visits of half an hour each so that she can join him for lunch and dinner, the officers are present at all times and there was no privacy. Anoma Fonseka went on to say that her husband had survived three attempts to kill him by terrorists and was regularly examined by doctors at the military hospital. She therefore requested permission for these doctors to see her husband. This request has been denied. In view of this she has written to the Red Cross asking them to make this request on her behalf. While all kinds of allegations are being spoken of in public, all such allegations started only after he decided to contest the elections. She also conveyed her husband’s request for the people, particularly his supporters and the military personnel to act peacefully.

A demonstration at Maharagama Junction

There was a further demonstration at Maharagama Junction at which large crowds participated to protest the arrest of Sarath Fonseka. The people angrily protested the arrest and demanded that the politician be released. The police used tear gas to disperse the crowds and arrested a number of them including a Buddhist monk who was a participant in the demonstration. The large crowds and their angry mood clearly showed the serious reactions of the people towards the arrest.

A Magistrate warns the police not to abuse their powers

The police produced eight persons at the Colombo Magistrate's Court stating that they had damaged state property during a demonstration held the previous day in which the protested the arrest of Sarath Fonseka.

After listening to police who showed photographs of persons with weapons gathered at the place, the Magistrate asked if any of the persons carrying weapons had been arrested. In fact, none of these persons had been arrested. Instead, the police only arrested the protesters who were there in support of Sarath Fonseka and none of the members of the goon squad that were brought in by the supporters of the government to attack the protesters. The Magistrate severely reprimanded the police and said that they and the courts should not abuse their powers for political purposes and instructed the officers to arrest the persons identified in the photographs. She then gave personal bail to the eight arrestees. This is a clear recognition by the judiciary of the police abuse who were criticised in the media for directly supporting and protecting the goon squads who had gathered to disrupt the peaceful protest of Fonseka’s supporters

Professor G.L. Peiris, a government minister attempts to justify Fonseka’s arrest

Prof. G.L. Peiris who had been the Vice Chancellor and head of the law faculty of the Colombo University and for a long time a teacher of law, attempted to justify the arrest of the common opposition candidate, Sarath Fonseka, saying that merely because somebody was a candidate for a presidential election he was not specially privileged before the law. He was trying to justify the arrest on the basis that the law should prevail in the country. He was also trying to justify the filing of the case before a military tribunal.

This one time academic who perhaps has the largest number of post graduate degrees in law in Sri Lanka became the spokesman for the government in trying to create some legal pretext for Fonseka’s arrest. While he was talking about the rule of law he would certainly be fully aware that it does not exist in any part of the country and that there is a collapse of the rule of law everywhere in Sri Lanka.

When Prof. Peiris first entered politics he came on the basis that the rule of law had so collapsed in the country and that it was necessary to become involved in politics in order to restore it. However, in the decades that followed the rule of law did not improve but, in fact, degenerated to an extent that the entire criminal justice and constitutional systems fell into the deepest crisis. This legal luminary has nothing very much to say now on the collapse of the legal and constitutional system in the country. During the presidential election he said in the media that since retired general Sarath Fonseka was not a registered voter he was ineligible to contest the election. This kind of nonsensical statements on the law is constantly uttered by thi so-called legal intellectual. This is a reflection of the utter meaninglessness of the law within Sri Lanka. Prof. Peiris has come to represent not the prestige of the law, but the very collapse of the law.

That intellect of this sort was responsible for the law students of several generations would indicate the quality, or the absence of the quality of the legal education in Sri Lanka. Once a a High Court judge said that at one time Sri Lanka had legal luminaries but that now what it has is legal lunumiris. This can be said of Prof. G.L. Peiris.

All entrances to Colombo Courts Sealed Off

As the case of opposition politician Sarath Fonseka is taken before the Supreme Court today all the roads to court the complex have been blocked by large contingents of police officers who checks all ID cards and who are only allowing lawyers to enter. Even the petitioners are not allowed to go to the court.

Around 1,000 policemen are blocking the roads. Several Special Task Force Units are also in place and vehicles carrying water cannons are also situation in the immediate area.

“Usually a large number of people come to this very busy court premises. Today, they are not allowed,” said one lawyer.

Two days ago angry crowds demonstrated against the arrest of Sarath Fonseka and a petition was filed. Today, when the petition is to be argued it was very likely that large crowds would come to witness the case and demonstrate their support for their candidate in the last elections who is being detained in military custody.

“It is the right of the people to watch court proceedings, particularly on issues of public interest as this case is. Today all such avenues are closed. People including lawyers have a right to protest and demonstrate. But, today, the government is afraid of all that. What is the freedom of expression left in this country?” asked a lawyer, who did not want to be named. “It is too dangerous to even a make a comment, even by lawyers like us”, he said.

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