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OMP Chief Upali Abeyratne accused of contempt of court

16 Nov 2021

Chairman of the Office of Missing Persons (OMP), retired Justice Upali Abeyratne was today (16) accused of contempt of court, The Morning learnt. The accusation was levelled during the High Court Trial at Bar on the case of missing journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda today. Counsel appearing for the aggrieved party, Upul Kumarapperuma accused Abeyratne and the other members of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) on Political Victimization for contempt of court following evidence given in court today by a witness claiming his statements to investigators and the PCoI were coerced, The Morning further learnt. The witness has alleged that his previous statement to the Magistrate was made due to pressure by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID). Following the statement by the witness before the trial at bar, Attorney at Law Kumarapperuma has moved that the PCoI Chief and the rest of the members of the Commission should be held in contempt of court. When questioned why he had moved contempt of court charges against the PCoI on Political Victimization that was headed by Abeyratne, Kumarapperuma explained that it was on the basis that the PCoI had recorded the witness' statement in violation of a court directive. According to the court directive, the respective witness was asked not to make any statements before any forum other than a higher court. It is in this backdrop that the PCoI had allegedly recorded the witness' statement when he had appeared before the Commission to inform the court of the directive disregarding the order. "The PCoI is a fact finding mission appointed by the Executive that cannot overrule the directive of a court of law," Kumarapperuma noted, adding that the PCoI was therefore in contempt of court. The trial at bar today directed the Attorney General's Department to respond to the allegations when further trial is held on 10th December 2021. The trial at bar is presided by judges Gihan Kulathunge, Damith Thotawatte and Saman Weeraman. (MIA)

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