We recently blogged about the case of the disappeared cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda and his wife Sandya’s quest for information and justice.
We now have some good news: yesterday the appeals court upheld the decision of the magistrates court that former Attorney General Mohan Peiris should be compelled to testify next week as to the bizarre claims he made to UN bodies that he knows where Prageeth is hiding.
We received this report from the courtroom:
The Appeals Court in Colombo heard the case of Prageeth Eknaligoda’s disappearance today, May 31, at 10:00am. The Court gathered to receive an update of the current proceedings at The Magistrate Court in Homagama. The Magistrate had made an order May 17 to summon former Attorney General Mohan Peiris for testimony. Testimony would revolve around a statement he made at the UN Committee Against Torture in Geneva on November 9, 2011 that Prageeth Eknaligoda was alive overseas.
Today the State Counsel from the Attorney General’s Depart requested the Appeals Court to overturn the decision of the Homagama Magistrate to summon Mohan Peiris, on grounds that he made the statement while on government duty within his capacity as senior legal advisor to the cabinet. State Counsel argued that Peiris said that on government orders and officials are not required to disclose communications where “the public interest would suffer.” The State Counsel later argued that Peiris should not be “harassed” for carrying out government instructions.
The Appeal Court ruled that the Homagama Magistrate is acting on the instructions of the Appeals Court to hear this case and had the freedom to summon Peiris. The Judge said that Peiris’s testimony should not be “pre-empted” and clarified that being summoned cannot be regarded as harassment. The Appeal Court Judge did point out that there was provision for the Appeals Court to hear a revision application if one is made, but ruled out a second objection from the State Counsel to postpone the scheduled hearing at the Magistrate Court on June 5. The case will be heard at the Homagama Magistrate on June 5 at 1.30pm and the Appeals Court will gather again on July 23 to hear the Magistrate’s proceedings at 9.30am.
It is now vital that, on the 5th of June, Mohan Peiris divulges all the information he has. We have updated our appeal with that in mind – so please do take a moment to write a letter and help Sandya in her quest to find her husband.
|Cartoon by Stephff, Burma. Part of the Cartooning for Peace and Reporters Without Borders series of cartoons commemorating Prageeth’s disappearance|