(Text of statement issued by Hon.Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Finance & Mass Media on misreporting of CID Investigation regarding the complaint by Mr.A.M.Namal Kumara)
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) is conducting investigations into serious allegations of an alleged conspiracy to assassinate President Maithripala Sirisena, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, amongst others.
As of this time, the only source for these allegations is a statement made by Mr. A.M. Namal Kumara. While the Criminal investigation Department has yet to report any evidence substantiating the existence of such a plot, these allegations are so grave in their implication that CID detectives must take every precaution thoroughly investigate and seek to corroborate their every element, as a matter of national security.
On Monday, CID officers arrested Indian national “Marceli Thomas” in connection with this investigation. Yesterday, Mr. Thomas was produced before the Colombo Fort Magistrates Court, and an order to detain him in CID custody was sought and obtained. The reason CID officers sought to detain Mr. Thomas was to conduct further investigations on a suspicion that Mr. Thomas may have violated Section 5 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act No. 48 of 1978 by failing to report information pertaining to plans to commit an act of terror. This suspicion was filed in writing by the CID and stated verbally in open court. Further evidence in support of this submission was shared with the Honourable Magistrate in chambers.
Several media outlets have since given wide publicity to false, unattributed claims that the CID had alleged in court that an Indian national had confirmed the existence of a plot to assassinate President Sirisena, Mr. Rajapaksa and others.
These news reports are false, baseless and inflammatory. The CID has not, at any time, in either written or verbal submissions to the Magistrates Court, made any statement that could lead to the conclusion or inference that an assassination plot has been established or corroborated, whether through Mr. Thomas or by any other means.
Journalists are free to observe any court proceedings in person or to apply for transcripts of proceedings and court filings through the Registrar of the Court. Therefore, it is inexcusable to make such serious and inflammatory statements on a matter of public record without citing any sources or mode of corroboration.
Responsible media organisations and public figures alike should restrict their reporting on judicial matters to the written and verbal submissions made by parties before the court. Such caution is all the more paramount with regards to reporting on criminal investigations with serious implications to the security of the state.