JO makes mischief about new corruption court | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

JO makes mischief about new corruption court

In a bid to undermine the new Special Court to try complex financial crimes and corruption cases, media outlets closely aligned with the Joint Opposition (JO) yesterday made insidious attempts to portray comments made by Chairman of the Permanent High Court at Bar Judge Sampath Abeykone, that “our hands are tied” as indication that the Government was influencing proceedings at the new court.

The reports claimed that Judge Abeykone had made the remark when counsel for the accused asked for time to study the indictments filed by the AG against their clients. However, Sunday Observer reporters at the inaugural session of the Special Court on corruption confirmed that Judge Abeykone’s reference had nothing to do with the request for time by the defence counsels.

In fact, the Chairman of the bench had asked all parties to agree on a date to call the matter in order to fix it for trial, after which the case will be heard on a daily basis.

Prosecutors indicated that there were more supporting documents that needed to be served on the four accused and informed that they will require one week to do so. After which lawyers appearing on behalf of the accused informed court that they would need a further two weeks to peruse and study the documents. After considering the requests of all parties, the Bench decided to call the matter on September 19.

Once the date was finalised one of the counsel for the accused inquired from court whether the matter could be heard in the afternoon of September 19, sources told Sunday Observer.

Rejecting that request, the Chairman of the Bench said that the court had to work within the stipulated legal framework, which required it to hold court proceedings in the standard manner. “Our hands are tied, as we are bound by the laws set out for the establishment and procedure of this court,” the Chairman of the Bench had indicated, to which all parties consented.

The Permanent High Court at Bar commenced its first hearing last Friday, where former President’s Chief of Staff Gamini Senarath and four others were indicted for misappropriation of state funds.

“The outlets reporting this comment attempted to twist it to sound as if the Chairman of the Court was indicating there is outside influence - this was purely a matter of procedure and the judge was indicating that the court has to follow the law,” an observer said.