Attorneys-at-Law for prominent lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah on Friday told the Fort Magistrate’s Court that the entire case against Hizbullah was “one big lie”.
“It’s a pure fabrication. They coerced children to make statements and even those statements they failed to get their facts right,” they said.
This was after Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris informed court that the Attorney General had decided to charge Hizbullah and the Principal of the Madrasa School under Section 2 (1) (h) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and Section 3 (1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Peiris said that there was evidence that Zahran Hashim and the entire set of suicide bombers had visited the Madrasa, according to the statements made by children.
He also said that Hizbullah had given a lecture at the university and at the said lecture that he had said: “I’m a lawyer. I have a university in Batticaloa and you can get in to the university if you study well. The Christians are holding the mosques in Palestine and you have to attack the Catholics here to teach them a lesson.”
Counsel Niran Anketell appearing on behalf of Hizbullah said that on the fact of it this was a lie. “Who is the Hizbullah who owned a university in Batticaloa? Is it the man on the dock or another? Any 10-year-old child knows that the issue in Palestine is between the Jews and the Palestinians. The only Christians in the area are with the Palestinians. They live in Bethlehem and Nazareth. Is it even plausible to think that this was said?” he asked.
Anketell further said that the children were forced into making the statements and the former Magistrate had made an order to investigate how statements made in confidence were leaked to the media.
“They have not complied with it. On the very same day the children came before the Magistrate and gave statements they were splashed across the media. How was it? It was because the CID fed it in. The Magistrate ordered an investigation and to date, they have not complied with it. How can you reasonably suspect this man on a pack of lies they have put forward?” he asked.
Peiris said that the children had been targeted by a “group” after they had made the statements after which they had filed Fundamental Rights Petitions alleging coercion.
Responding, Anketell said it was Attorney-at-Law Nuwan Bopage who had met the children and their parents after the coercion and filed action on behalf of them.
“It was Bopage and no one else. He has filed an affidavit to that effect before the Supreme Court,” Anketell said.
Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris, Sudarshana Perera and Senior State Counsel Lakmini Girihama appeared for the CID. Niran Anketell, Shanaka Cooray, Hafeel Farisz and a host of lawyers appeared for Hizbullah.
Having heard submissions, Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage ordered the remanding of Hizbullah and Shakeel till 3 March and ordered a comprehensive report on all statements obtained to be filed.