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AG’s appeal against granting bail to accused in SLPP MP’s killing:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC, has appealed to the Supreme Court against the granting of bail to 41 accused in the killing of Polonnaruwa District SLPP MP Amarakeethi Athukorala and his Personal Security Officer (PSO) Jayantha Gunawardena on 09 May 2022, at Nittambuwa.

The AG’s appeal has been fixed for argument on 09 July, 2024, before a bench comprising five Judges, presided by Justice P. Surasena, the AG’s Department has informed Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC.

The AG’s Department has said so after Minister Rajapakse called for a report in respect of our news report, headlined ‘SLPP MP’s violent death during Aragalaya: Govt should be ashamed of delay in serving justice – Head of National Security Sectoral Oversight Committee‘ published on the front page of The Island edition of April 16.

The Justice Minister has been informed that in spite of strong objections by the AG to release the accused on bail at the time of serving of indictments and to have a day-to-day trial, the Trial-at-Bar released the accused on bail on the grounds that they had been in remand custody for over one year.

The AG has declared that his Department felt aggrieved by the decision of the Trail-at-Bar to release the accused on bail.

MP Atukorale was on his way back home after attending a Temple Trees meeting, chaired by then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, when a mob intercepted his car in the Nittambuwa town. The armed police bodyguard was also killed.

According to the AG’s Department, the initial investigations conducted by the Nittambuwa Police and subsequently taken over by the Homicide Unit of the CID during C.D. Wickremeratne’s tenure as the IGP. Having concluded the investigation, the Homicide Unit of the CID has submitted the relevant material to the AG and sought his advice.

Justice Minister Rajapakse told The Island that he immediately sought clarification from the AG after the latest report was brought to his notice.

Having perused the material submitted by the CID, the AG has decided to move for a Trail-at-Bar, according to the note received by the Justice Minister. The AG dispatched the indictment against 41 accused to the High Court of Gampaha before requesting Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC, in terms of 450 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code on May 09, 2023 to consider appointing a Trial-at-Bar to hear the case.

The Chief Justice has given the go ahead by nominating three High Court Judges, Sahan Mapa Bandara, Rashmi Singappulli and. Ruwan Pathirana to have a Trail-at-Bar sitting at Gampaha.

The indictments which were preferred against the 41 accused contained 14 charges, including two counts of murder, around 350 witnesses and 400 productions.

While the AG’s appeal regarding the bail order is pending before the Supreme Court, the Trail-at-Bar commenced and is in progress, the Justice Minister said, referring to the note he received from the AG. The prosecution has concluded the evidence of two witnesses who had played a key role in the course of the investigations. The Court has been informed that their next witness would be Nuwan Sandagiri, the representative of the Government Analyst’s Department who had done the analysis pertaining to the Fascial Recognition of the accused and the digital evidence.

The High Court trial will resume on April 25, 2024, and will continue on Thursday afternoons and Fridays of every week.

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