Making a statement on the abduction and assault on Nation Newspaper Deputy Editor Keith Noyarh in 2008, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa informed the CID that he could not remember if there was a journalist called Keith Noyarh at the time of the alleged assault incident, the prosecution informed court yesterday.
Senior State Counsel (SSC) Lakmini Girihagama appearing on behalf of the CID made this revelation when the magisterial inquiry into the assault and abduction of journalist Keith Noyarh came up before Mount Lavinia Additional Magistrate Lochana Abewickrama. She also submitted the Court that the CID officials had recorded a statement from former President Mahinda Rajapaksa last Friday (August 17) regarding this incident.
Filing a further report in the Court, SSC Girihagama said the former President in his statement also stated that he could not remember whether he received a telephone call from the then Minister and incumbent Speaker Karu Jayasuriya regarding the incident.
“The former President also stated that if anyone complained regarding such an incident, he was used to refer those matters to the attention of the Defence Secretary or his private secretary for necessary action,” SSC Girihagama further added. Mount Lavinia Additional Magistrate Lochana Abewickrama yesterday ordered to extend the remand of former Military Intelligence Head Retired Major General Amal Karunasekara till August 27, in connection with the abduction and assault incident of former Deputy Editor of the Nation newspaper Keith Noyarh in 2008.
SSC Girihagama also informed that CID officials recorded a statement from Keith Noyarh regarding this matter. According to the statement given by Kieth Noyarh, he had revealed that two Army Jeeps had been on surveillance as he travelled throughout Colombo on Monday May 21, 2008.
“Noyarh who was the Deputy Editor of The Nation newspaper at the time of his abduction had later refused to return to Sri Lanka even to identify his suspected attackers in a Court ordered identification parade last year,” the SSC added.
Noyarh says he was abducted from his home and taken to Dompe safe house in a white van
SSC Girihagama informed the Magistrate that Kieth Noyarh had revealed that he was abducted from his home in Dehiwela and removed to a Military Intelligence safe-house in Dompe in a white van by a platoon led by Major Prabath Bulathwatte.
Those Army officials also stole his wallet and his wedding ring, Keith Noyarh stated in his statement.
“What is your relationship with the LTTE, and who gave you information to publish those articles in your paper? The Army officials asked,” according to the statement of Noyarh.
“They questioned me as to how I received information regarding an article published under the heading of “Senpathi” on the suicide bomb blast that took place at Lotus Road in Colombo”.
One of the army officers continued to assault Keith, while questioning him. A call was received by one of the army officers who replied “Yes Sir, Yes Sir”. Soon after this call, he was ordered to wash and dress up. Thereafter, he was again put into the white van with his eyes covered and brought to Dehiwela.
Noyarh left for Australia soon after he was released by his abductors in 2008 and never returned to Sri Lanka. SSP Girihagama also submitted that the CID would obtain a statement from Army Intelligence Major Anzar who worked in the Maradana Tripoli camp. The Lance Corporal who worked at the Dompe Safe House was the main eye witness in this case. He had revealed that army officers had brought a man to the Dompe Safe house and assaulted him, SSC Girihagama added. Defence Counsel Nalinda Indatissa appearing on behalf of the Amal Karunasekara pleaded that his client be granted bail.
SSC Girihagama also stated that Amal Karunasekara had not revealed any information regarding his duties and responsibilities while he was serving as the former Military Intelligence Director. SSC Girihagama informed the Magistrate that the current Defence Secretary was unable to answer the questionnaires submitted by the CID. She further said investigations were delayed owing to this reason as well.
After considering all the matters, the Magistrate ordered the CID to submit the questionnaire to the current Defence Secretary to the court today (21). The Magistrate fixed the inquiry and bail order for August 27.
Speaker says not forced to make Police statement on Keith Noyarh abduction
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday insisted that he was not forced to make a statement to the Police on the abduction and assault of journalist Keith Noyarh.
In a media statement, Jayasuriya said that he had given the statement to the Police after they made a legitimate request after informing the courts.
The Speaker said doing his duty as a law abiding citizen, he informed the Police about all that he knew in connection with the incident.
The Speaker insisted that he did not make the statement with any malicious intent towards anyone but had done so as a law abiding citizen to help the course of justice and the law.
The Speaker’s Media Unit said Jayasuriya had decided to issue the statement after seeing several media reports in connection with his statement to the Police.
Jayasuriya had been the Public Administration Minister at the time of the incident and is said to be the first person to inform then President Mahinda Rajapaksa about Keith Noyarh’s abduction.
Former Nation newspaper colleagues of Noyarh are said to have informed Karu Jayasuriya regarding Keith Noyarh’s abduction.