Bharatha Lakshman Murder: Hirunika Says “Justice Must Be Seen To Be Done”
By Faraz Shauketaly
The latest pronouncements from the Duminda Silva camp that the injured Member of Parliament from Kolonnawa is to have further surgery has been met with derision by supporters of the murdered politician Bharatha Lakshman. The legal fraternity were agitated at the reluctance of the Magistrate inquiring into the matter to ask the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to seek the assistance of Interpol to arrest Duminda Silva who is now confirmed to be in Singapore. Unconfirmed reports reaching The Sunday Leader state that Duminda Silva’s condition is not that of a ‘vegetable’ and that Silva suffers from short term memory loss, has put on weight and that his condition is not as bad as has been claimed by his supporters. With the Sri Lanka Police not having enlisted the support of Interpol to assist them in carrying out the Magistrate’s order to produce Silva in Court the legal fraternity in Sri Lanka are keen to study what course of action this investigation and case will follow.
Bharatha Lakshman’s daughter Hirunika told us that she had every intention of fighting ‘tooth and nail’ to ensure that the system of justice in this country maintains its independence. “Before roads, ports and whatever, we need to have a real Rule of Law.” Hirunika who is studying for her Attorneys-at-Law examinations in Sri Lanka added, “there is a real danger that this country will be viewed as a Carnival of Clowns” if the Rule of Law continues on its current course of erosion.
Q: How confident are you about receiving justice with regard to finding out what happened to your father?
A: Well I am still numb. I have no other feelings apart from knowing that I have to bring this case to a conclusion. I am of course quite disappointed. The main issue of this tragic event was the fact that there was an unlawful assembly and Duminda Silva was responsible for that. At the very least he needs to be investigated for that. He was there, he was responsible and it is incumbent that he be investigated for that. There is a Magisterial order for him to be produced in court.
Q: As a student of law, what exactly is Unlawful Assembly?
A: Unlawful Assembly is where more than five people gather with unlawful objectives. Any person who is a member of that assembly at the time the offence – for example murder is committed – is guilty of that offence, or if you were aware that the offence was likely to be committed you are guilty of that offence. The offence of Unlawful Assembly alone carries a penalty of six months.
Q: As a citizen of this country where your rights appear to have been laid ‘aside’ how do you feel? Will you accept this without a murmur? What exactly will you do?
A: Unlike the others who are wealthy and who have power I have people. The knowledge that I have people who understand my feelings and the injustice that we suffer now is most potent. I am not saying that I am going to protest and so on but what I am saying is that I know that I have the understanding of the common man. My main issue here is why there is a reluctance to ask for Interpol intervention.
Q: What legal options are available to you?
A: I can take out a writ against the Police or I can go for a Fundamental Rights Application in the Supreme Court. These are the motions of what you call legal options.
Q: Will you consider international options?
A: I have considered that but I feel that this is our country and that I will seek legal redress from this country’s judiciary. I will fight tooth and nail to ensure I receive justice. There will be no stone left unturned in my quest for justice. I will lobby the conscience of this nation and the conscience of its judiciary. There is a grave danger that if the Rule of Law in Sri Lanka carries on its current course of erosion there is a real danger of civil strife. I hope that the legislators and the Executive wake up to that possibility.
Q: Do you have political aspirations? What are your current aspirations?
A: I have not ruled anything out but my most immediate aspiration is one that involves the independence of this country’s judiciary. The case is incidental to this aspiration. I am trying to in some way or another to establish this independence.
Q: It is said that Duminda Silva is incapable of being questioned?
A: That is not the issue. The Magistrate has asked that he be produced before Court. The Police have confirmed to the Magistrate that Duminda is a suspect. Now that he is outside the country the services of Interpol must be requested. However the necessary instruction or direction has not been given as yet.
Q: Are you frightened? Have you complained to the Police about your fears? Have you thought of leaving the country?
A: No, I am not frightened and yes, I have complained to the Police. My mother fears or worries about me as all mothers do I suppose. I have nothing left to lose except my life. No, I have not thought of leaving this country and these events certainly will not push me away. This is after all my country as much as it is for 20 million or so others.
Q: Your father was murdered, the wheels of justice are moving painfully slowly, do you love your country?
A: I love my country but that does not mean that I love the government. Our country has so much to offer – it is like having summer 365 days a year. Just because there are some miscreants it does not mean that I have to run away from Sri Lanka. First they used the War victory, then they used the wonders of the Southern Highway but there is a serious concern as to the independence of the judiciary or rather the people’s perception of that independence. If the erosion of law and order continues on its current path there will be a real possibility of civil strife. I sincerely hope that those with appropriate responsibilities will take serious note.