By Shamindra Ferdinando
The Law Society of Sri Lanka (BASL) said yesterday (10) that it could not report the lawyer involved in the Aeroflot case to the Supreme Court, without investigating the incident. It emerged before High Court Judge, SMHSP Sethunge, in the Commercial High Court of Western Province, that Barrister Aruna de Silva had accompanied a Tax Officer of the same Court to the Bandaranaike International Airport on June 02 to deliver a court ruling in a case filed by Ireland-based Celestial Aviation Trading Company Ltd., against Aeroflot.
The Minister of Justice, Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, in a recent Swarnawahini interview, said that a lawyer, accompanying a court officer to make a court decision was extraordinary. The minister stressed the need for a thorough investigation. However, BASL’s professional objective committee could only open an investigation if the company received a complaint from the public. BASL President Saliya Pieris, PC said when The Island asked if he would ask
Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya to investigate the lawyer’s conduct. The president of BASL was also asked if he would release a statement regarding the incident which received international media coverage. Committee. So far, we have not received any complaint against a lawyer in this regard.
Silva’s attorney appeared for the plaintiff with Avindra Rodrigo, PC, (litigation) of FJ & G.de Saram, a leading colonial-era law firm. A spokesperson for the law firm declined to comment when The Island asked if they were investigating the allegations made against the lawyer. The president’s attorney, Rodrigo, was not immediately available for comment. The spokesperson promised to forward the question posed by The Island to the lawyer of the president concerned. Advocate Dasun Nagasena, Coordinating Secretary to Dr Rajapakse, said the Justice Ministry had taken steps to recommend action against the attorney to the Chief Justice. Nagasena said the tax officer who served the Justice Department had been banned, pending further investigations.
High Court Judge Sethunga has publicly stated that he did not order the BIA not to allow Aeroflot SU 289 to take off on the afternoon of June 02. Former Minister of Public Security, Rear Admiral (Ret.) Sarath Weerasekera, MP, said The Island that the government carry out a thorough investigation into the Aeroflot affair.
Stating that the high-profile decision that was taken at the BIA was the culmination of an ongoing destabilization scheme directed against Sri Lanka, lawmaker Weerasekera said the government appeared to have lost control of the situation. Responding to another question, the Colombo District MP said that in addition to a proper investigation, the government should determine the diplomatic fallout, as Russia had stopped not only Aeroflot flights to Sri Lanka from the fiasco, but also Russian tourists in Sri Lanka. According to reports, Moscow has also halted the granting of annual scholarships to Sri Lankan students. MP Weerasekera said the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) should also investigate the incident as the manipulation of court proceedings was an extremely serious development. Perhaps the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) should step in to establish the truth, the former minister said.