Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Defence Secretary sues The Leader

COLOMBO: Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has filed action in the District Court of Mount Lavinia against The Sunday Leader chief editor Lasantha Wickramatunga and Leader Publications Pvt Limited claiming a sum of Rs 1,000 million as damages in respect of an article published in the Sunday Leader of July 15, 2007 under the headline 'MiG deal crash lands on Government.'

The Defence Secretary filing action through his Attorney at Law, Sanath Wijewardane, had stated that the article published in the newspaper was animus injuriandi and prayed court to grant him necessary relief and the cost, including interest until the final determination of the case.

He informed Court that the articles clearly identified him with photographs and other details and they have been published with malicious intent to damage his reputation. He said several articles published in the newspaper on the MiG aircraft purchases made further allegations against him which were false and defamatory.

The Petitioner stated that his reputation suffered both on a personal level and as the Defence Secretary through the publication of the said articles.

The Court was told that the petitioner had earlier demanded Rs.250 million as damages for publishing the said material but Leader Publications had not paid the said amount.

The petitioner said he hails from a distinguished political family that has served the country with distinction for generations. He joined the Army in 1971 and played an active role in operations against the terrorists.

He was awarded the Rana Sura and Rana Wickrama medal by the State in recognition of his bravery. He retired from the Army after a distinguished service of 20 years. He then followed a post graduate computer course at the Colombo University and left for the United States where he worked as a computer systems specialist at the prestigious Loyola Law School.

Then he was appointed as the Defence Secretary in 2005 and since then, he has been working with dedication and commitment to lead the decisive battle against terrorism carried out by the Security Forces.

He told Court that in order to minimise any irregularities and corruption in the purchases made by the Security Forces he established a completely Government owned company top act as local agent for such purchases, thus saving a large sum that would otherwise have been lost to the country in the form of agents fees and commissions.

All these steps have led to unprecedented victories against terrorism.

The petitioner said that in this background, the publication of the said articles was designed to tarnish his reputation and credibility.