Two cases filed against Gotabaya in US, notice served

Two cases have been filed against former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the US and notice was served on him after he was tracked down in Pasadena.

One case was filed on behalf of a Tamil torture survivor while the other was filed over the murder of journalist Lasantha Wickremetunga.

The International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) and US law firm Hausfeld have filed a civil damages case in California against Rajapaksa, on behalf of a Tamil torture survivor. Roy Samathanam made the complaint in the Central District of California against Rajapaksa, who is a dual US Sri Lankan citizen.

Notice was formally served on Mr. Rajapaksa on Sunday night at a Trader Joe’s parking lot in Pasadena.This was after the ITJP and Hausfeld hired private investigators to track down the whereabouts of Mr Rajapaksa who is currently on holiday in California. Notice was also served at the same time in a separate case filed by another organisation on behalf of assasinated journalist Lasantha Wickrematunga, ITJP said.

Roy Samathanam, who is a Canadian national, was detained in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo in September 2007 by the Terrorism Investigation Division of the Sri Lanka police, who reported directly to Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Roy Samathanam was physically and psychologically tortured and forced to sign a false confession before being released in August 2010 on a plea deal and payment of a fine. In 2016. Mr. Samathanam won a UN human rights committee case but Sri Lanka has failed to abide by the compensation ruling.

“Mr Rajapaksa has to give up his US citizenship to be able to stand in presidential elections so this was probably the last chance for a long time to begin to hold him accountable,” said ITJP’s executive director Yasmin Sooka. “We hope other survivors of torture will join the suit and make this a class action”.

The case against Rajapaksa related to the murder of journalist Lasantha Wickremetunga was filed by Lasantha’s daughter Ahimsa Wickrematunge.

Lasantha Wickremetunga was killed in January 2009 while he was on his way to office.

Wickremetunga was the Editor of The Sunday Leader newspaper at the time he was killed.

Ahimsa Wickrematunge had told the media that her father had once told her he would be murdered to prevent him from testifying in a case against Rajapaksa. (Colombo Gazette)