Thursday, February 5, 2009


officer who took magazines into custody not fluent in English

Tissainayagam trial

By Susitha R. Fernando

Testifying before Colombo High Court at the trial of arrested journalist J. S. Tissainayagam, the police officer attached to the Terrorist Investigation Division said that he took nearly 50 North Eastern Monthly magazines into custody from the Outreach office at Colombo-12.

The witness Inspector Nishantha Pusphalal (33) in his evidence led by State Counsel Sudarshana de Silva before High Court judge Ms. Deepali Wijesundara said he did not understand English much.

IP Pusphalal said that he joined the Police Department in the year 1997 and served in Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) from the year 2006 to September 2008. On March 17, 2008, the witness went to Outreach Multimedia Pvt Ltd at No. 313 Jampettah Street, Colombo-12.

The police officer said he went along with V. Jeyasiharan, the owner of the publishing company, who was in custody and there he took around 50 magazines of North Eastern Monthly into custody.

Out of these magazines the sections of two magazines published in July 2006 and November 2006 were presented to court and they were marked as productions.

The two articles marked as production was an editorial of the North Eastern Monthly magazine under the heading “Providing security to Tamils now will define northeastern politics of the future” and the other article under the heading “With no military options government buys time by offering watered down devolution”.

The witness also said that he checked with the National Archives whether the magazine was registered in Sri Lanka and found that it was not.

Defence counsel, Anil Silva in his cross examination questioned the witness whether he could give an opinion on the articles which he had taken into custody.

At this stage the prosecution objected to seeking an opinion from the witness on the magazines he took into custody. The court upheld the objection.

Later the defence counsel gave the marked sections of the magazines to the witness police officer and asked him to read them aloud.

Re-examined by the prosecution the witness said he could read and understand English though his knowledge was not so good.

Asked by the State Counsel, the witness said that he had read only Sinhala translations of English material.

In this case journalist J. S. Tissainayagam was indicted for an offence said to have been committed during the period between June 1, 2006 and June 1, 2007. He was charged for committing an offence of creating racial or communal disharmony through printing or distribution of the publication North Eastern Monthly magazine, an offence which is punishable under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

He was also charged for committing an offence by contributing or collecting or obtaining information relating to or donating funds for the purpose of terrorism through the collection of funds for the magazine, which is an offence punishable under Emergency Regulations.

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