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SACLS criticises Sirisena's 'political interference'

The South Asian Centre for Legal Studies (SACLS) today criticised the Sri Lankan president's attempt to block information regarding the armed forces being submitted to the court. 

"Political interference in prosecutions is antithetical to the independence of the criminal justice process #Accountability #justiceintransition" the SACLS tweeted, highlighting President Sirisena's comments. 

Sirisena issued an order at a meeting on August 28, attended by the country's defence secretary, chief of defence staff and senior police and defence officials, Sinhala weekly, Anidda reported. 

The order comes as the chief of defence staff, Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne is wanted over his involvement in helping the main suspect in the abduction and murder case of 11 Tamil youths evade arrest. 

On August 16 Sri Lanka's Criminal Investigation Department (CID) told Colombo Fort chief magistrate, Lanka Jayaratne it had evidence that Wijegunaratne provided the former navy commander, Lieutenant Commander Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi alias 'Navy Sampath' with Rs. 500,000 in order for him to skip bail and escape arrest.

“There is evidence against Admiral Wijegunaratne’s role in allowing the accused to evade arrest,” the CID was quoted by AFP as saying to the magistrate, who responded by immediately instructing the Bank of Ceylon to release records of the the navy's accounts from March to May 2017. 

Lieutenant Commander Hettiarachchi was arrested last month over his involvement in the abduction of eleven Tamil youth from 2008 to 2009, who were held in navy bases at Trincomalee and Colombo before being murdered.

Wijegunaratne was in 2016 filmed assaulting a journalist covering a story on Hambantota port. Despite this Sirisena extended his service and promoted him to chief of defence staff.