Sri Lanka at A Crossroads – A Tamil Perspective
Raviraj murder accused cleared, Sumanthiran faults all-Sinhala jury
THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS
Trial by jury not suitable for politically sensitive cases, says leading Tamil lawyer
Raviraj murder: Acquittal raises credibility concerns
Sumanthiran says SIS was accused of killing Raviraj
Maithri and Ranil’s Christmas gift to the Tamils – Accused acquitted
A Sri Lankan court Saturday acquitted five men, including three navy intelligence officers, charged with assassinating an opposition Tamil legislator which raised concerns about judicial integrity in Sri Lanka.
Human rights organisations have accused government forces of killing political opponents and suspected Tamil rebel sympathisers during Rajapaksa’s rule.
Nadaraja Raviraj, who represented the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), was shot dead in 2006 along with his bodyguard as they drove out of his home in Colombo, The court heard testimony that a navy intelligence unit, which operated near former president Rajapaksa’s official residence, had carried out the assassination.
Tamils are prosecuted under the notorious terrorism act but this trail force under a jury system and the all Sinhala jury acquit the accused.
In a ethnically deeply divided country, all space of life ultimately decide on ethnic lines. A Tamil parliamentarian said the acquittal confirmed their fears that the victim could not expect a fair trial by a jury consisting only of those of the Sinhala-speaking community. “It became an ‘us’ (Sinhalese) versus ‘them’ (Tamils) issue and shows we were right to object to this jury,” he further said.
The five men were charged with executing the assassination, but those who had ordered it were still at large. Sri Lanka’s new government, which came to power in January last year promising accountability for war time atrocities and ethnic reconciliation, has so far failed in its mandate and refused to implement its promise to UN human rights council to allow international judges in any war crimes probe.