Buddhist monks lied in Sri Lanka contempt case: Court of Appeal
ECONOMYNEXT – The Court of Appeal which sentenced controversial Buddhist monk Galagodaaththe Gnanasara to six years of rigorous imprisonment has also upbraided two of his fellow clergymen for giving false evidence.
Two monks for the defence – Kirama Devinda and Pitigala Dhamma Veneetha – had lied about the conduct of Ven. Gnanasara inside the Homagama Magistrate’s court in January 2016. Both monks were present in the magistrate’s court when Ven. Gnanasara went on a rampage and disrupted court proceedings.
While Ven. Gnanasara himself admitted to the Court of Appeal that he addressed the magistrate’s court and used disparaging language, his two monk colleagues insisted he did not use such words.
“The Court … can observe that the evidence of the accused (Ven. Gnanasara) and the evidence of this (Ven. Kirama Devinda) stand wide apart from each other just like two parallel lines in a rail track which would never converge.
“The anomaly between them is irreconcilable. It is therefore the view of this court that this witness (Ven. Devinda) has uttered falsehoods to suppress the incriminatory items of evidence against the accused (Ven. Gnanasara),” said President of the Court of Appeal, Preethi Padman Surasena, with justice A. L. Shiran Gooneratne agreeing.
They said Ven. Pitigala Dhamma Veneetha who was described as witness number 3 for the defence had also suppressed evidence that incriminated Ven. Gnanasara. The two judges said they did not accept Ven. Veneetha as a truthful witness.
According to the Court of Appeal, both monks had violated the fourth precept: “I undertake the vow to abstain from false speech.”
The 56-page judgement said Ven. Gnanasara had not tendered an apology to the Magistrate’s Court nor the Court of Appeal for his conduct and instead took the high ground that his actions were well within the law.
The Court held that the monks were at the Magistrate’s Court of Homagama to pressure magistrate Ranga Dissanayake to grant bail to military intelligence officers who were accused in the abduction of cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda in January 2010.
In a related case, Ven. Gnanasara was convicted of intimidating Eknaligoda’s wife Sandya and sentenced to six months in prison, a conviction he has appealed.
Ven. Gnanasara was given four years of imprisonment each for addressing the Magistrate’s court without permission and obstructing court proceedings. Six years for demanding bail for suspects in custody and five years for insulting state attorneys. A total of 19 years to run concurrently which means he will have to serve six years in prison.
However, Ven. Gnanasara admitted himself to the Sri Jayewardenepura hospital two days before the Court of Appeal verdict on Wednesday. (COLOMBO, August 11, 2018)