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Judge Sarath Ambepitiya murder case : Solicitor General examines witness

A steward at Steam Boat Restaurant said that he recalled the three accused in the High Court Judge Sarath Ambepitiya murder case having liquor and fried rice at the restaurant on November 19, 2004.

Steward Achala Sandaruwan Wijerama stated this before the Trial-at-Bar hearing the High Court Judge Sarath Ambepitiya murder case, when he was examined by Solicitor General C. R. de Silva.

The Trial-at-Bar comprises High Court Judges Upali Abeyratne (president), W. A. T. Ratnayake and I. M. Abeyratne.

A. S. Wijerama the steward said in evidence that he was an employee at Steam Boat Restaurant in Kinsey Road, Borella . He said the restaurant was open from 11 am to 2 pm and again from 6 pm to 11 pm.

He said on November 19, 2004 around 1.30 pm five persons arrived at the Steam Boat Restaurant. They were the first customers that day and only two other tables were occupied by customers from 11 am to 2 pm.

They ordered half a bottle of Old Arrack, a bottle of soda and Coca-Cola. Nobody else took liquor during those hours. He took their order and supplied the drinks to the customers with five glasses. But they returned one glass saying one of them was not taking liquor. Then they ordered two fried-rice portions and a dish of devilled fish. Later they were given two bills one for liquor and the other for the meals. They paid with a thousand rupee note.

Witness identified second, third and fifth accused in the current case as the trio among the five persons who arrived at the restaurant on the day in question.

He said later the three empty bottles were placed in cases in the bar. The cases were empty since usually they are cleared by 11 a.m.

After Solicitor General showed witness four bills produced by the Police before the Court the witness identified that two of them were written by him to forward to the bar and the kitchen and the other two were the two bills issued to the customers by the cashier. He also said that they were issued on November 19, 2004 from the Steam Boat Restaurant.

He also said that he served liquor that day to those five customers only. He handed over the empty bottles to the Police Officers who arrived there around 7 p.m. that day and they were the only bottles in the cases. Officers in civil took them over and I was told they were from the finger prints section. IP Nuwan Wedasinghe was among them.

Cross examined by Defence Counsel Sudath Karavita witness said that he did not look at the customers attentively but saw them while he served liquor and meals.

The Trial-at-bar ordered the Colombo Crime Division to bring all the originals of the statements with regard to this case when the CCD informed several originals of statements have not been brought before the Court following a request by the Defence Counsel Sudath Karavita to peruse them.

The Attorney General indicted Mohammed Niyas Naufer alias Potta Naufer, Hewavitaranage Nishantha Udaya Kumara, Sampath Thusara Abeywickrama, Henry Sujith Rohana Rupasinghe and M. P. Sumedha Niroshana with five counts including conspiring to murder High Court Judge Sarath Ambepitiya and his Police bodyguard Chief Inspector R. A. Upali around November 19, 2004.

Second to fifth accused were indicted for committing the double murder on November 19, 2004 and Potta Naufer was indicted for aiding and abetting the second to fifth accused to commit the crime.

Solicitor General C. R. de Silva, Senior State Counsel Sarath Jayamanne, State Counsel Haripriya Jayasundara, State Counsel Shanil Kularatne and State Counsel Uthpalangi Rajapakse appeared for the Attorney General.

President's Counsel Tirantha Walaliyadda, Sarath Ekanayake, Ravindra de Silva, Manjula Welagedara, Akalanka Ukwatta, Ranil Velaratne, Pushpakumara Amugama and Methsiri Paranavithana instructed by Laxman Perera appeared for the first accused while Sudath Karavita appeared for the second and forth accused and Dilshan Fernando, Kelum Kumarasinghe and Nalin Indatissa appeared for the third and fifth accused.

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