The remark by the leftist leader, who contributed towards the formation of the present administration, came at a media briefing in Colombo.
Those accused over the killings of journalists Lasantha Wickrematunge and Prageeth Ekneligoda and MP Nadaraja Raviraj and other politicians are given bail and released as a result of the president’s publicly-declared objections to their incarceration, he said.
Everybody knows who the killers are, but they are not punished. What we have to do is build memorials for Lasantha and others. The killers are scot free, Karunaratne charged.
All accused military officers in the enforced disappearance of Ekneligoda two days before the 2010 presidential election are now out on bail.
The last of the 13 to get bail by Avissawella high court judge Amal Tilakaratne are Army intelligence officers Vinnie Priyantha Nilanjan and Corporal Ravindra Upasena, within a month of the president’s having criticized military officers being hauled before courts.
Inside two weeks, Lt. Col. Shammi Kumararatne and Staff Sergeant Priyantha Kumara Rajapakse alias Nathan were given bail.
‘New law following a lecture’
The president further said in his ‘Sathviru Sanhinda’ lecture that he did mediate on behalf of the Army intelligence officers accused in the Ekneligoda and Wickrematunga cases, although he had no intention of interfering in affairs of the judiciary.
Two days later, Sergeant Premananda Udalagama was released on bail by Mt. Lavinia magistrate Mohamed Shabdeen.
Wickramaratne charged that lawyers were using the president’s public remarks as a ‘new law following a lecture’ for the release of the accused military men.
Any killer in the military can remain free for his entire life due to his statement, he said.
UNHRC accusations over impunity
The UNHRC has noted as an institutional crisis the impunity enjoyed by military personnel accused of crime, and a year ago in Geneva the government agreed for reforms in the military to prevent that.
International organizations have repeatedly asked for a public declaration that punishment would be given for crimes against humanity, but the president has openly said that he would protect armed forces personnel.
The president’s lecture was welcomed by members of the Rajapaksa family, including the ex-defence secretary, but earned the condemnation of the forces that were instrumental in getting the present administration elected to office.