Ajith Prasanna, self appointed counsel | Sunday Observer

Ajith Prasanna, self appointed counsel

 Ajith Prasanna
Ajith Prasanna

Lawyers may appear free of charge for an accused under humane circumstances. However, it is not often that a lawyer would walk into court, make representations for a suspect whose counsels are present at the time, in spite of not being retained by him. According to revelations this week during the hearing of the Abduction for Ransom case of 11 individuals by a rogue Navy outfit it was exactly what Attorney at Law and Former Army Major Ajith Prasanna had done on August 15 when the case was called before the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court. It was IP Nishantha Silva, representing the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) that brought the matter to the Magistrate’s notice.

The counsel appearing for Lt. Commander Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi, a main accused of the case too denied that Ajith Prasanna was instructed by his client to appear on behalf of him. As Attorney at Law Kalpa Perera posed the question once again to Hettiarachchi, he again denied in open court that he instructed Ajith Prasanna to make statements on behalf of him.

This was however, not the first time that he had meddled in a case he had no involvement in. As Silva noted, Prasanna had acted similarly trying to appear on behalf of Former Army Intelligence Chief Amal Karunasekara implicated in the Keith Noyahr abduction case despite not being retained by him. This is yet another case being investigated by Silva.

Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne noting the seriousness of the issue said, Prasanna had made various representations regarding the identity of Hettiarachchi when the case was last heard. Noting in the court records, Prasanna’s conduct, Magistrate Jayaratne also took notice of the request made by the CID to notify the Supreme Court of several similar incidents.

Ajith Prasanna, an open supporter of Former Secretary of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa has continuously lambasted the Government who according to him is on a ‘hunt for war heroes’. Having appointed himself as a voice of war heroes, his critics however say, he has been less than an exemplary officer of the Sri Lanka Army during his tenure.

According to sources Ajith Prasanna who joined the Army on January 2, 1992, on several occasions was found guilty of conduct prejudicial to military discipline under the Army Act. While in 1994, he had taken absence without leave while taking part in military operations which is an offence under military law, the Army had later on appeal approved leave for the said dates.

He was also found guilty of disobeying a senior officer’s orders in September 1994. Sources say, though he was ordered to join operations in Palali with a platoon of 200 soldiers, Ajith Prasanna had disobeyed orders and remained at the Sinha Regiment Headquarters. Following this incident, he was once again ordered to report to Elephant Pass which he again disregarded, sources say. Ajith Prasanna had later been found guilty on both counts before a Military Court.

However, sources now say he has entered the legal profession by concealing these facts, thereafter going on to practice as a lawyer before the Supreme Court.