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Contempt of court:

Noticed to show cause

Defence Secretary Vs Leader Publications

Defence Counsel withdraws from case

Mount Lavinia Additional District Judge Macki Mohamed yesterday issued notice on the Leader Publications and two others, Lal Wickrematunga and journalist Fredrica Jansz, to appear in Court on July 9 and to show cause why they should not be dealt for contempt of Court.

At the commencement of the two cases where, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa had filed against the Leader Publications, the Counsel for Leader Publications informed the Judge they are not appearing for the respondents, the Leader Publications, and withdrew from the two cases.

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, in conversation with his Senior Counsel Ali Sabry at the Mount Lavinia Court yesterday. Picture by Mahinda Vithanachchi

In this case, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa sought Rs. 1 billion as compensation from the Leader Publications and Sunday Leader newspaper for publishing an article defamatory of him. The Court issued an injunction order on the defendants on December 14, 2008 prohibiting them to publish articles defamatory of the petitioner Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

Subsequently on May 14, 2009, the date on which they were required to file objections, the defendants came to Court and pledged not to publish anything defamatory to the petitioner and agreed to face punishment for contempt of Court if the pledge was not honoured.

Judge Mohamed issued notice on the respondents after lengthy submissions made by Senior Attorney M.U.M. Ali Sabry, Senior Counsel for the Defence Secretary. Senior Counsel Ali Sabry submitted that the counsel who appeared for late journalist Lasantha Wickrematunga and the Leader Publications on the last hearing date, gave an undertaking to Court that they will not publish any articles or any statements defamatory to Defence Secretary Rajapaksa in the future.

Violating the undertaking given to Court on the last hearing date, the Leader Publication had published an article on May 25, 2009 defamatory to the Defence Secretary.

In that article the writer had compared the Defence Secretary with the LTTE leader.

The writer’s name was also not mentioned in that article. This is gross violation of human rights, Senior Counsel Sabry said.

The Defence Secretary and an Officer of the Navy came to Court yesterday to give evidence and informed the public about the correct picture of the “Mig Transaction,” As the Counsel for the respondents were not present in Court, we had to move for a date, the Senior Counsel Sabry said.

Earlier, Senior Counsel Sabry emphasised that if the Leader publications violate the conditions agreed in Court, they will file action against them in Court.

Senior Counsel Sabry with Samith Fernando, Laksith Jayawardena and Rajitha Dissanayake instructed by Sanath Wijewardena appeared for the Defence Secretary. The case will be called again on July 9, 2009.



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