Thursday, 29 May 2003  
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Udatalawinna Mass Murder Case : Defence counsel tenders apology to court

by Kumar Wethasinghe

The counsel for Defence Anil Silva, appearing for the accused in the Udatalawinna Mass Murder Yesterday tendered his apology to court over the statement he had unintentionally made at the previous day's hearing.

The Trial-at-Bar comprised High Court Judges Eric Basnayake (President), Deepali Wijesundara and Sunil Rajapakse.

At the outset, Judge, Sunil Rajapaksa informed the counsel that he could made a statement pertaining to his previous day's statement if he so wished. At this stage the counsel tendered his apology.

When the hearings resumed counsel for the Defence Anil Silva further cross examined the eye-witness Mohamed Abdul Malik of Madawala.

Witness Malik answering the questions reiterated that p/c Meegaswatte saw him and the witness did speak to him immediately after the incident.

The counsel further suggested that the van in which witness travelled on election day deviated to a side road at the Nawayalatanne clock tower in order to save the ballot boxes and the lives of nearly 30 to 40 people.

The witness refuted the suggestion and said the only idea for doing so was to avoid any confrontation with the defenders.

The counsel also suggested that two of the men travelling with the witness threw grenades. The witness refuted the suggestion in toto.

Instead while their van was proceeding along the side route, the Defenders had pursued them and had fired at length.

The witness was not familiar with that route. He was not aware whether there was a distillery in that region.

The witness further refuted the counsel's suggestion that those in the Defender did not fire at the van but fired in to the air.

The witness replied that he could not say where they could have gone to if their van did not come to halt after hitting at a lamp post. He did not know whether that road could lead them to the Udatalawinna Village. However, they had expected to reach Madawala.

The witness also replied that nobody fired at the Defenders and that none of them had a firearm in their possession.

The witness further refuted a suggestion by the defence that firearms were recovered from their van.

When the defence suggested that Zakir got out of the van as it came to a halt near the lamp post while the others kept their heads down, the witness admitted that they were frightened of the attackers.

Witness Malik said that he had already told of the incidents. Having remained inside the van for another 10 minutes after the defenders reversed and then crawled out.

The Counsel further suggested that the alleged identification parades were false and fabrications. But the witness said they were genuine. He also refuted that the CID showed them military identity card of the accused in order to recognise their faces.

Q: You did not recognise any of the attackers? I did and if not how did my shoulder and the leg get injured.

Judge Rajapaksa - Q: Was it the fifth accused who shot at the driver from behind? I saw him through the window and can recognise if I see him.

At the stage the witness identifies the fifth accused as the person who shot the driver.

Q: Did you identify him at the identification parade? Yes.

Q: At the time of the incident how were the accused attired? They wore military uniform and white T shirts.

Q: At the time of the shooting was the van door opened? No they opened it.

Q: When you had fallen as a result of the shooting, how could you see the sixth accused? He fired through the window towards me, behind the drivers seat.

Q: You said he fired through window near the driver? No through the one behind.

Further hearings resume today.

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