Gota buys more time to respond to Ahimsa’s complaint | Sunday Observer

Gota buys more time to respond to Ahimsa’s complaint

12 May, 2019

Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa has petitioned the US District Court of Central California through his lawyers for a further extension to respond charges set out in a civil lawsuit filed by Ahimsa Wickrematunge accusing him of instigating and authorising the murder of her father and founder Editor of The Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickrematunge.

On April 29, attorney John C. Ulin, a senior partner at the Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer law firm headquartered in Washington DC, filed an “unopposed application” to extend time to respond to the initial complaint filed by Lasantha Wickrematunge’s 27 year old daughter.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s lawyers have proposed a new response date of June 27, 2019, as a deadline to respond to the complaint in their April 29 application to court.

Agreement has been reached between Ahimsa Wickrematunge’s legal team to give Rajapaksa, the defendant in the case, a total of 60 days additional time from the original response date to respond to the complaint by the daughter of the slain journalist.

The application has been made in order to give Rajapaksa sufficient time to prepare expert testimony and collect additional evidence necessary to support a motion to dismiss, his lawyers submitted to court in documents seen by Sunday Observer.

In her complaint filed on April 4, Ahimsa Wickrematunge alleged that “Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a United States citizen and Sri Lanka’s then Secretary of Defence, instigated and authorised the extra-judicial killing of Lasantha” and “had responsibility over those who executed the assassination.”

 The case has been filed under the US Torture Victims Protection Act and the Alien Tort Statute, legislation that allows aggrieved persons to file suit in the United States for human rights abuses committed in foreign jurisdictions. The laws stipulate that notice must be served on a defendant while on US soil. Gotabaya Rajapaksa was served notice on April 7, 2019 in the parking lot of the Trader Joe’s Supermarket in his hometown of Los Angeles.

The former Defence Secretary’s motion to dismiss Ahimsa Wickrematunge’s civil lawsuit will be based on forum non conveniens grounds, Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s US legal team reveals in the application, referring to a legal doctrine that a court may refuse to hear a case on the basis that a more appropriate forum to hear the case is available to parties.

“A party moving to dismiss on forum non conveniens grounds “bears the burden of demonstrating an adequate alternative forum, and that the balance of private and public interest factors favors dismissal.” Cariajano v. Occidental Petroleum Corp., 626 F.3d 1137, 1145 (9th Cir. 2010),” the application by the former Defence Secretary’s lawyers states.

“Consequently, Defendant requires the additional time to prepare expert testimony, potentially conduct depositions, and collect other evidence necessary to meet its burden at the motion to dismiss stage. Indeed, motions to dismiss premised on forum non conveniens frequently rely upon sworn declaration and deposition testimony to establish the existence of an adequate alternative forum.”

Since Rajapaksa resides in Sri Lanka, a country in a time zone over 12 hours ahead of California, making coordination and communication between Defendant and his US counsel often slow and time consuming, his lawyers submitted to court.

“This request for additional time will give effect to the agreement of the parties and will allow Defendant time to coordinate with counsel and prepare his response to the Complaint, which will ultimately help this Court adjudicate the matter,” the application by Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s lawyers noted.