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Gota Puts Two Top Magistrates Under Heavy Surveillance

Jan 17, 2020 5:52:33 AM - colombotelegraph.com

The homes, chambers and vehicles of two senior magistrates have been bugged by military intelligence, as the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration continues its crackdown on public servants who have shown a strong sense of independence even after the November 16th presidential election.

Colombo Telegraph learns that the judges have been placed under the highest possible surveillance in the hope that the bugging will implicate them as being in league with opposition politicians or other vested interests.

The Government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is claiming to have discovered recorded conversations implicating both magistrates among the trove of recorded telephone calls found in UNP MP Ranjan Ramanayake’s home.

However, Colombo Telegraph learns that this claim about the recordings involving the two judges is a blatant fabrication, much like the claims made in a Sunday English newspaper last week that a recording existed of former CID Director Shani Abeysekera admitting to being the source on a New York Times article published in 2018 about how the Chinese company building the Port City in Colombo paid the Mahinda Rajapaksa election campaign USD 7 million. Issuing a statement the New York Times said the newspaper had “incorrectly” claimed to have identified its source on the article. The US based newspaper also said it was “always troubled by attempts to publicly disclose sources” because they intimidated people from speaking to the press.

While cherry picking recordings to release and cause maximum discomfort to its political opponents, members of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration are making wild claims about recordings that do not exist Colombo Telegraph reliably learns. The regime is preying on the uncertainty about volume of recordings in its custody, and the damning implications of some of the leaked tapes to maintain its fabricated claims.

Both judges have shown strong streaks of independence even during the Yahapalanaya regime.

Powerful sections of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration are irritated by decisions made by both magistrates to grant bail to suspects arrested by the police on the basis of politically motivated witch-hunts.

Colombo Chief Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne and Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake have found themselves in the regime’s crosshairs.

Colombo Chief Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne earned the new administration’s ire when she granted bail to former Minister Rajitha Senaratne.

After initially remanding her for 14 days, the Colombo Chief Magistrate also granted bail to Swiss Embassy local staff member Garnier Banister Francis who was arrested on charges of giving a false statement after she claimed to have been abducted and detained against her will

Jayaratne also raked Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s “new” CID over the coals in court recently when the white van press conference case came up for hearing. The Colombo Chief Magistrate informed the CID that it had made arrests without court orders using charges under which arrests without an order from court were not possible, in the case of at least one of the suspects, the former State Pharmaceuticals Corporation Chairman.

Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake has long been seen as a problem for the Rajapaksa administration, after he filed contempt charges against Bodu Bala Sena General Secretary Galagoda Atte Gnanasara Thero in the Court of Appeal which convicted the notorious monk to 6 years in prison for the offence of threatening the wife of Prageeth Ekneligoda inside the Homagama Magistrate’s Court where Magistrate Dissanayake was presiding. Dissanayake has since been appointed as Fort Magistrate where he has been overseeing the investigation into a kidnapping ring run by the Sri Lanka Navy that resulted in the abduction and suspected murder of 11 young Tamil and Muslim men. As part of this investigation, Dissanayake had the dubious honour of becoming the magistrate to place the country’s highest ranking military officer in remand in December 2018. Former Chief of Defence Staff Ravindra Wijegunaratne was arrested and remanded for aiding and abetting the ringleader of the abduction racket Navy Sampath to evade the law. Other senior naval personnel are also implicated in the investigation, including former Navy Commander Wasantha Karannagoda and former Navy Spokesman D.K.P Dassanayake both of whom are being indicted by the attorney general for their roles in the abduction racket. The Gotabaya Rajapaksa regime recently promoted Dassanayake, a long standing friend of the Rajapaksa family, as rear admiral, with a view to making him the next Navy Commander, even as the naval intelligence official faces trial by a special trial at bar set to be appointed by the Chief Justice.(By Janakie Mediwake)