Power failure puts of Fonseka hearing; govt orders probe

Last Updated: Sunday, October 17, 2010 - 19:55

Colombo: Power failure in a court complex forced the hearing in a case against former Sri Lankan Army chief Sarath Fonseka to be put off till next month, prompting the government to order a high-level inquiry into the incident.

The hearing in connection with the "white flags case" that pertains to allegations levelled by Fonseka against Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa had to be postponed till
November 2 as a power failure occurred in the court complex on Friday.

Suspecting foul play, the Sri Lankan government ordered a probe, with the Minister of Power and Energy saying that a power disruption under normal circumstances was highly
unlikely.

Minister of Power and Energy Patali Champika Ranawaka ordered the Ceylon Electricity Board to conduct an immediate inquiry into the incident that occurred during the court
proceedings. The court was hearing the case pertaining to the former army chief`s controversial interview to a newspaper in which he had alleged that the powerful defence secretary had ordered the killings of LTTE fighters who had offered to surrender and waved white flags during the final days of the war in May last year.

Fonseka had later said that he was quoted out of context in the interview. The chairman of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) was informed of the incident and the investigation is being carried out by the special investigation unit of the CEB. The Minister said if it was proven that it was an act of sabotage by the institution, that is affiliated to the ministry, steps will be taken to suspend its service.

The CEB pointed out that a breakdown of a high power cable in the Fort Pettah area had led to the power failure. The trial was postponed to November 2 and the High Court-at-bar comprising Judges Deepali Wijesundara (President), W M P B Warawewa and M Zurifick Razeen ordered the witness Sunday Leader Editor Frederica Jansz, to appear in
court on that date for further cross-examination.

The power failure occurred within 30 minutes of commencement of the cross examination. The power was restored soon after the case was postponed and the panel of judges were leaving the premises, according to media reports.

When the court registrar`s office made inquiries from the relevant division they had been told that power cuts could continue throughout the day. Meanwhile, Fonseka`s wife Anoma said the former army chief would not seek pardon after being jailed for 30 months on charges of military corruption.

"When we seek a pardon then you are admitting you are guilty... If we have not done anything wrong there is no reason to ask for a pardon," she told reporters late last
week.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, October 17, 2010 - 19:55

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