Era of influencing court decision by telephone, freeing criminals over: Sri Lanka President

COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – The era of getting court orders by telephone and freeing criminals ended with the elections in January 08, 2015 President Maithripala Sirisena said.

"The Supreme Court, the Bribery Commission, all these were under the control of telephone calls of the rulers," President Sirisena said in a television address to the nation.

"You know that many criminals were freed. The Attorney General did not have the freedom."

One of the first acts of newly elected President Sirisena was to put the Attorney General’s office back under the Justice Ministry, which had been taken under his own control amid protests from the legal fraternity by ousted President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

President Sirisena said he had never given a telephone call to the anti-corruption commission or had any private conversation with a judge.

Health Minister Rajitha Sirisena, who crossed over from the then ruling party with Sirisena to fight the Presidential polls last year also told reporters Thursday that court decisions were decided by telephone from Temple Trees, the official residence of the ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

"I was also a minister for several year and had been a Temple Trees," he told reporters. "I was not scraping coconuts there. I have seen the way telephone calls were made to judges.

"The only thing they did not say was ‘muchung’ (a colloquial word meaning ‘buddy’).

President Sirisena said he entered the Presidential race in 2014 at the risk of his own life and his children.

"It was like jumping into the sea," he said.

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President Sirisena, won the election backed by the United National Party of current Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, while his own Sri Lanka Freedom Party officials vilified and ridiculed him on election platforms and state media.

Sirisena said all the media was controlled.

Media owners and editors themselves know how they got telephone calls about news items and the type of mental strain they were put under, he said.

He said the media was now free.

In common reference by most Sri Lankan rulers and state workers who come under fire, President Sirisena also advised media not to use the freedom as a ‘wild ass’.

Liberal philosophers however say no one can use the freedom as ‘a wild ass’ since people are born with freedoms and it is not a largess given by rulers and state workers to the people. State workers and rulers can however take away freedoms, including that of speech.

But a society that does not value freedom, or uses freedom to advocate illiberalism or to undermine the freedom of others or themselves, with eventually face the consequences of those actions as a decline of freedom and the expansion of the arbitrary powers of the state or rulers.

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