Sirisena’s press release undermines PCoI’s authority - Counsel | Daily News


Sirisena’s press release undermines PCoI’s authority - Counsel

No harm intended, former President ready to testify - PC Gunaratne :

Attorney Dilshan Jayasuriya appearing on behalf of former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando yesterday (22) requested the Presidential Commission probing Easter Sunday Carnage to take legal action against former President Maithripala Sirisena and his Personal Secretary Sameera de Silva over a media release issued on September 20. Jayasuriya said this media release, which stated that what Fernando had told the PCoI about Sirisena is completely untrue and malicious was taken up before the Commission by Fernando’s lawyer on Monday (21) and said such a statement undermines the authority and the respect of the Commission.

The press release by the former head of state, who is also a sitting member of the current parliament causes to drive fear into his client as well, Jayasuriya said.

Maithri Gunaratne, PC appearing on behalf of former President Sirisena made his submissions in response to Jayasuriya before the Commission yesterday.

He said his client was ready to provide evidence before the Commission at anytime.Therefore, by issuing such a press statement he had not intended to undermine the PCoI’s mandate.

Additional Solicitor General Ayesha Jinasena, PC representing the Attorney General commented on this issue yesterday and said such media releases which are issued while the commission proceedings are going on can be considered as an involvement to the commission’s affairs which is equal to the judiciary and also undermining of the commission’s authority.

Referring to a media release issued by the Colombo Archdiocese condemning a statement given to the Commission by SJB MP Harin Fernando on September 19, which Gunaratne, PC brought up as an similar incident to client’s press release yesterday, ASG Jinasena, PC said that a press release of that nature should not have been issued by them as well relating to the proceedings of the PCoI.

She pointed out the former President could be penalised under the provisions of the Presidential Commission Act and also the Victims and Witnesses Protection Act.

While informing that the aforesaid controversial media release is still available on Sirisena’s Facebook page, the ASG said it should be taken out of his page with immediate effect.

In addition, she also told the commission that she agreed the request made by Attorney-at-Law Jayasuriya on Monday to summon Sameera de Silva before the Commission on this matter.

Next, the Lawyer representing Archbishop Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith told the PCoI that there is a difference between the two press releases issued by his client and the former President as the Archbishop has already completed giving evidence before the Commission. It was issued just to educate his followers and not to disrespect the Commission, he said. However, in response to these comments by the three parties, Gunaratne PC said it was the purpose of Sirisena too to educate his supporters and not to disrespect the Commission’s authority. This was issued by his client as it would take time further for him to cross-examine Hemasiri Fernando who has been testifying before the Commission for several days. “This causes damage the image of my client, former President Sirisena. But we are ready to remove that post from Facebook if it damages the Commission’s authority,” Gunaratne further said.

Considering all the presentations, the PCoI informed the respective parties that the final decision on this incident will be announced today.

Former President Maithripala Sirisena was present in the Commission yesterday to listen to the hearings and he is expected to give evidence on October 5 which is followed by former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 6.