Magistrate R. K. Dissnayaka yesterday testified as the first witness at the contempt of court proceedings against the Venerable Galabodaatte Gnanasara Thera. He was the Homagama Magistrate on Jan. 25, 2016, when the Thera committed the alleged offence. At present, he serves as the Colombo Additional Magistrate.
Senior Deputy Solicitor General Rohantha Abeysuriya led the evidence.
Magistrate Dissanayake said the Thera had stood before his court and said, “War heroes are being jailed. LTTEers are freed. Bail should be given to the war heroes.” The priest who was not a lawyer, had been advised by a court officer to keep silent, but he went on disturbing the court, the Magisrate said. The Thera demanded that some officers attached to the military intelligence be released. He referred to those suspect as “war heroes”, the witness added.
Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Pieris address the court. The Thera had got histerical and disturbed the court, Magistrate Dissanayake said, adding that the former had insulted the DSG calling him a ‘napunsakaya’.
The witness said he had ordered the Homagama police to take the Thera into custody.
The lawyers who were present at the bar table, had identified the Thera as Galabodaatte Gnanasara, Magistrate Dissanayake said. Attorney-at-law Upali Senaratne, had informed the court of the Thera’s name.
The witness identified the Thera, who was in the Court of Appeal yesterday.
Ven. Galabodaatte Gnanasara Thera has been charged for contempt of court on an application made to the Court of Appeal by the then Magistrate of Homagama R. K. Dissanayake. The Thera allegedly disturbed the proceedings of the Court of the Magistrate, on Jan. 25, 2016 when the inquiry against six army officers was heard by the Magistrate.
Yesterday President’s Counsel Manohara de Silva instructed by Anusha Perusinghe appeared for the Thera. Senior Deputy Solicitor General Rohantha Abeysuriya appeared for the Attorney General.
The witness was then cross-examined by Manohara de Silva P.C., who appeared for the Thera.
The witness Magistrate said that the respondent priest had addressed him as ‘Swamini’ when he (The Thera) spoke up in court without permission.
The witness explained that he remembered that the Thera had misbehaved in court. He remembered more than what the stenographer took down; what he remembered he told the Court of Appeal.
At the outset yesterday Counsel Manohara de Silva took up the objection that the list of witnesses and the documents to be used in the prosecution had not been given to the court and the respondent by the Attorney General. A fair trial was thus denied to his client, he said.
Senior Deputy Solicitor General Rohantha Abeysuriya replied that the entire case record had been given to the respondent party. He said they had a list of eight witnesses including the then Magistrate of Homagama and two witnesses from the Attorney General’s Department, who were eye witnesses at the Magistrate’s Court. Two officers of the CID would also be eye witnesses.
Manohara de Silva said the documents and the list of witness had been given to him in open court yesterday following his objections.
The Court of Appeal then said that the inquiry should begin.
The bench comprised Justice L. T. B. Dehideniya and Justice Preethi Padman Soorasena.