Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Court Case Concerning 17 Executed Aid Workers Transferred Out of the NorthEast

It is common procedure to make court cases that are inconvenient for the government in the NorthEast 'go away' by transferring them to a location where it is difficult for witnesses and lawyers to reach. -- Editor

Colombo transfers NGO massacre investigation to Anuradhapura

by TamilNet
, September 6, 2006

Action Contre la Faim Sri Lanka's Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has instructed that the inquest proceedings in the Muthur Magistrate's Court in the Trincomalee district regarding the killing of seventeen workers of the French non-governmental organization, Action Faim, Action against Hunger (ACF) in Muthur town during the first week of August, to be held before the Anuradhapura Magistrate, legal sources said. Earlier, on August 08, a Sinhalese Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) was brought from Anuradhapura to conduct the post-mortem examinations on the the orders of the Sri Lankan authorities. Muthur magistrate's court is located in the North East province and the Anuradhapura magistrate court is in the Sinhalese dominated North Central Province which is about ninety km off northwest of Trincomalee town. The instruction issued by the JSC was conveyed to Muthur Magistrate's court through the Justice Ministry Secretary when the inquest proceedings resumed Tuesday and the order in the inquest proceeding was to be delivered, legal sources said. Accordingly, Muthur Magistrate M.Ganesharajah who has been holding the inquest from the start till Tuesday has ordered his Registrar that the records of the case to be sent to Anuradhapura Magistrate. He further ordered that the case should be called on September 20 in Anuradhapura court, legal sources said.

Related articles:
08.08.06  Bodies of 17 NGO workers brought to Trincomalee

Inquest into the death of 17 aid workers in Mutur           
Case transferred to A'pura Magistrate's Court

By S.S.Selvanayagam, Daily Mirror, Colombo, September 7, 2006

The inquest into the death of 17 aid workers of Action Contre la Faim (Action against Famine) employed in Mutur was transferred to Anuradhapura Magistrate's Court to be called on September 20.

When the inquest came up for delivery of verdict by Mutur Magistrate M. Ganesharajah on Tuesday in the Trincomalee courts, Senior Counsel for the aggrieved submitted that this was a unsatisfactory state of affairs as the Secretary to the Ministry of Justice had no authority whatsoever over the Judicial Service Commission or its decision.

As the Mutur Magistrate's Court was not functioning in Mutur and due to the unsettled situation in the area, the case was called in the Trincomalee courts before the Mutur Magistrate.

Police Sergeant Ramyasiri of Trincomalee Harbour Police filed Post Mortem reports of the 17 deceased.

Counsel K.S. Ratnavale for the Action Contre la Faim with Attorney-at-Law A. Jegasothi submitted to court that he intended to call more witnesses but due to the civil strife in Mutur and Trincomalee areas, the witnesses were not present in court.

The Magistrate then informed the Counsel that he had fixed this date to enable police to file Post Mortem reports of the 17 dead persons and for delivering the verdict, but he had received intimation from authorities that these inquests had been transferred to the Trincomalee Magistrate's Court with immediate effect and that further proceedings would be held in that court hereafter.

To a query by Counsel Ratnavale, the Magistrate stated that he had not received direction in writing or by fax but only by telephone from the Secretary to the Ministry of Justice and the Secretary of the Judicial Service Commission.

The Counsel said the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) had the authority as a controlling and disciplinary body to make any such directions and that he was not contesting the authority of the JSC.

However, he stated that the inquests had reached the stage of conclusion and only the verdict was left to be pronounced and asked whether it was reasonable to transfer the proceedings to another court.

Counsel also submitted that the Post Mortem on the 17 bodies were conducted by Anuradhapura Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) and not by Trincomalee JMO as directed by court and said this too gives rise to the suspicion that the authorities in charge of investigation had attempted to manipulate the proceedings from the very inception.

He said in view of these developments, the very decision to transfer these proceedings may be subject of adverse comments and it is important that these inquests be conducted in a legal and very proper manner as various people have various interpretations over this and is hotly debated by way of reports in the media.

Counsel further submitted all the witnesses were from Trincomalee and it would be difficult for them to travel to Anuradhapura and would face serious inconvenience and even possible threats as this was a controversial matter.

The Magistrate in his order observed that Counsel Ratnavale himself had conceded that the JSC had the power to transfer this case and therefore directed that this case be accordingly transferred to Anuradhapura Magistrate's court.


Portrait des victimes

M. Narmathan, 24 ans
Technicien qualifié eau et assainissement

R. Arulrajahd, 24 ans
Technicien confirmé eau et assainissement

T. Pratheeban, 24 ans
Technicien eau et assainissement

M. Rishikesan,
27 ans
Technicien eau et assainissement

K. Kovarthani, 28 ans
Animatrice promotion à l'hygiène
G. Kavitha, 27 ans
Animatrice promotion à l'hygiène

S. Romila, 25 ans
Animatrice promotion à l'hygiène

V. Kokilavathani,
29 ans
Animatrice promotion à l'hygiène

A. Jaseelan, 27 ans
Animateur promotion à l'hygiène
G Sritharan, 36 ans
Technicien qualifié sécurité alimentaire

S.P. Anantharajah,
32 ans  
Assitant Responsable programme

31 ans
Technicien eau et assainissement
M. Ketheeswaran,
36 ans
Technicien eau et assainissement
S. Ganesh, 54 ans
I. Muralitharan,
34 ans
S. Koneswaran,
24 ans

Abdul Lathiff Mohammed Jawffar,
31 ans


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