Lanka SC orders to issue summons to Gotabaya Rajapaksa in 2011 human rights violation case

Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court on Wednesday directed authorities to issue summons to ousted president Gotabaya Rajapaksa to appear in court over the disappearances of two activists in 2011 as he has now been stripped of constitutional immunity.

Rajapaksa, 73, will now be required to give evidence in the case filed on the disappearance of two rights activists Lalith Weeraraj and Kugan Murugananthan in the northern district of Jaffna.

The disappearances took place 12 years ago soon after the end of the country’s long civil war when Rajapaksa was a powerful official at the Defence Ministry under the presidency of his elder brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa.

At the time, Gotabaya Rajapaksa was accused of overseeing abduction squads that whisked away rebel suspects, critical journalists and activists, many of them never to be seen again. He has previously denied any wrongdoing.

When Rajapaksa was originally summoned to appear in court in 2018, he petitioned the Court of Appeal claiming his life would be under threat if he were to travel to Jaffna to appear in court.

The Appeal Court later ruled that Rajapaksa cannot be summoned to court as he had been elected President by then and enjoyed legal immunity as the President of the country.

As Rajapaksa has now lost his constitutional immunity, the apex court decided to issue summons to him to make an appearance on December 15 when the case would be heard. Rajapaksa was ousted in the popular uprising against him for his mishandling of the island nation’s worst economic crisis.

He fled to the Maldives mid-July and announced his resignation from Singapore. In early September he returned to the country from Thailand.

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