Voir dire allowed in Tissanayagam case

Colombo High Court Judge Deepali Wijesundara has ordered a ‘voir dire’ inquiry on September 18th to decide whether a confession given by journalist J.S. Tissanayagam had been made voluntarily or not.

The defence, led by Senior Counsel Anil Silva also challenged the indictment which charged him under Prevention of Terrorism Act before the court on September 09th.

He noted the journalist was charged under PTA for an offence committed during the Ceasefire Agreement, a period where the PTA was not in operation.

The prosecution led by Senior State Counsel Rohantha Abeysuriya moved to amend the charges against Tissanayagam, to which his lawyers objected.

The defence said it was in objection to the charges as a whole as they were vague and the gazette on which the prosecution had based one of their charges was non-existent.

Furthermore the third charge in the indictment is said to be under Emergency Regulation 7 of December 2006 published in Gazette No 1474/3 of the Democratic Socialist Republic, another non-existent gazette, said Mr. Silva.

The Judge allowed the amendments saying as long as it was the existing document that was amended and nothing new was added to it.

The amended charge sheet was read out to Tissanayagam and he pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution began with witness ASP Srilal Ananda Raj Ranasinghe of the Terrorist Investigation Division testifying before court.

The witness ASP stated that he recorded the confession made by the journalist on the 07th and 09th of May 2008 while he was detained at the TID.

ASP Ranasinghe said the journalist volunteered to make a confession that he recorded in Tamil with the help of an interpreter, Police Constable Nizam.

At the end of the evidence the prosecution counsel sought permission of the court to mark the confession made by the journalist as evidence.

But at this stage the defence objected to the document being marked and said that it was not a confession made voluntarily.

The judge allowed the documents to be marked and said the defence could ask for a voir dire inquiry to decide whether it was volunteered or not.

The court fixed the voir dire inquiry and the cross examination for September 18.

Source : LankaDissent

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