(Text of Press Release issued by the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP)on April 8th 2019)
Johannesburg: The ITJP and the US law firm Hausfeld have filed a civil damages case in Califonia against former Sri Lankan defence secretary,Gotabaya Rajapaksa, on behalf of a Tamil torture survivor. Roy Samathanam made the complaint in the Central District of California against Mr.Rajapaksa, who is a dual US Sri Lankan citizen.
Notice was formally served on Mr. Rajapaksa on Sunday night at a Trader
Joe’s parking lot in Pasadena.This was after the ITJP and Hausfeld hired
private investigators to track down the whereabouts of Mr Rajapaksa who
is currently on holiday in California. Notice was also served at the
same time in a seperate case filed by another organisation on behalf of
assasinated journalist Lasantha Wickrematunga.
Roy Samathanam, who is a Canadian national, was detained in the Sri
Lankan capital, Colombo in September 2007 by the Terrorism Investigation
Division of the Sri Lanka police, who reported directly to Gotabaya
Roy Samathanam was physically and psychologically tortured
and forced to sign a false confession before being released in August
2010 on a plea deal and payment of a fine. In 2016. Mr. Samathanam won
a UN human rights committee case but Sri Lanka has failed to abide by
the compensation ruling.
“Mr Rajapaksa has to give up his US citizenship to be able to stand in
presidential elections so this was probably the last chance for a long
time to begin to hold him accountable,” said ITJP’s executive director
Yasmin Sooka. “We hope other survivors of torture will join the suit and
make this a class action”.