HC re-issues summons on President, PM to testify in Tissa Attanayake case

The Colombo High Court yesterday re-issued summons on President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to appear before Colombo High Court on July 17 to testify in the case filed against UNP former General Secretary Tissa Attanayake for allegedly displaying a fraudulent document to the media during the last Presidential Election for the purpose of affecting the result of then Common Candidate Maithripala Sirisena.

When the matter came up before High Court Judge Wikum Kaluarachchi, the Court was informed that the President and Prime Minister, the key witnesses in the case had sent their written notifications informing Court that they would be unable to appear in Court yesterday since they have to perform several official duties. Accordingly, the case was put off for trial on a day-to-day basis commencing from July 17 to July 28. The rest of the witnesses from witness number three to fifteen were advised to appear in Court on the next trial date. Meanwhile, UNP General Secretary Kabir Hashim appeared in Court as the thirteenth witness in the case. Additional Solicitor General Wasantha Navaratne Bandara PC with Senior State Counsel Lakmini Girihagama appeared for the Attorney General. President’s Counsel Kalinga Indatissa with counsel Kanchana Ratwatta and Niroshan Siriwardena appeared for Tissa Attanayake.

UNP former General Secretary Tissa Attanayake had been arrested and held in remand custody for allegedly displaying a fraudulent document to the media during the last Presidential Election by inciting racial or religious hatred among ethnic communities. He is currently out on bail.

The accused had been charged under Section 3(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act No. 56 of 2007. This is the first time in Sri Lanka an accused had been indicted in the High Court by the Attorney General over an offence that comes under the ICCPR Act.

The Attorney General alleged that Tissa Attanayake had publicly announced on December 22, 2014 that there was a secret agreement between the then Common Opposition Candidate Maithripala Sirisena and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The Attorney General alleged that Tissa Attanayake committed an offence under Section 3(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act No. 56 of 2007 by inciting racial or religious hatred among ethnic communities.

Section 3(1) of the ICCPR cites that no person shall propagate war or advocate national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to cause discrimination, hostility or violence.

The AG further alleged that Tissa Attanayake had committed a punishable offence under Sections 454 and 459 of the Penal Code by forging a document and displaying it to the public as genuine and that the accused had also committed an offence under Section 80-C of the Presidential Election Act for displaying a fake document prior to an election, for the purpose of affecting the result of that election in relation to the personal character or conduct of any candidate.

The AG has listed 15 persons including President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and UNP General Secretary Kabir Hashim as witnesses in the case.


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