Conflicts & War

Ousted president faces legal trouble over Sri Lanka disappearance cases

Colombo, Sep 5 (EFE).- Sri Lanka’s ousted president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who returned home last weekend after weeks in self-exile, faces legal troubles over the forced disappearance of two human rights defenders 12 years ago.

With constitutional immunity gone, Rajapaksa is likely to be summoned within the next two weeks to appear before the Supreme Court, lawyer Nuwan Bopage, who represents the victims’ families, told EFE on Monday.

Activists Lalith Kumar Weeraraj and Kugan Muruganandan went missing in 2011 after the end of the bloody civil war in Sri Lanka.

Rajapaksa, who oversaw a brutal defeat of Tamil Tiger guerrillas to finish the long-running war, was the secretary of the defense ministry, with his elder brother Mahinda as the president.

The former president is accused of overseeing abduction squads that arrested government critics and activists during his stint with the defense ministry.

Many of them never returned home. The former president has denied any wrongdoing.

Rajapaksa was elected president in 2019 and granted immunity against prosecution.

Ex-spokesperson Keheliya Rambukwella has testified that Rajapaksa knew of the disappearances.

“When Rambukwella was called over the case in his testimony, he said Gotabaya was aware of the disappearance. Gotabaya was summoned to testify but he did not appear,” Bopage said.

The lawyer said the Supreme Court summoned Rajapaksa last month, but by then, he had already left the country after protesters, angry over economic hardships, stormed his official building.

Rajapaksa flew aboard a military plane to the Maldives before moving to Singapore. He later flew to Thailand before returning home on Saturday.

Meanwhile, a Sri Lankan delegation will attend the upcoming United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions next week to brief the agency about the post-war reconciliation process.

The Sri Lankan authorities said they were not seeking a confrontation before the council, fearing questions on the repression of demonstrators during the protests over the economic crisis.

Foreign Minister Ali Sabry told reporters Monday that the government was committed under the Sri Lankan “constitutional framework” to advance the reconciliation process without external interference.

“We cannot use external mechanisms because our constitution does not allow it,” Sabry said.

The island nation is under pressure from the international community over the slow national reconciliation process. EFE


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