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War crime litigations reach crucial phase in US courts

[TamilNet, Monday, 5 December 2011 08:11 No Comment]

Civil cases against Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapakse and Shavendra Silva, an ex-army commander and currently Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) are waiting next round of decisions from the District Court of District of Columbia and District Court of Southern District of New York respectively, legal sources monitoring the progress of the cases said. The Rajapakse case awaits decision if the court can "force" Rajapakse to answer and engage with the Court. Shavendra case awaits decision from the SDNY judge on Silva’s Motion to dismiss.

pdf: SDNY case against Rajapakse

A third case in US court (SDNY) is against Mahinda Rajapakse, by attorney Rudrakumaran, and this case has not proceeded further than filing according to court records.

pdf; Case 1:11-cv-00235-CKK, Complaint

Attorney to the DC case, Bruce Fein, acting for three Tamil plaintiffs, in the case K. Manoharan et al. v. Mahinda Rajapakse, told TamilNet that he is optimistic about a favorable decision from Judge Kotelly, a judge with experience in Federal Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA). Fein added that if the Judge agrees that plaintiffs have satisfied the attempts at Service of Process having acted according to the latest order, Rajapakse will risk a default judgment against him if he continues to ignore court order. Fein said he is also contemplating to advice his clients to include, Sri Lanka’s President’s brother Gothabaya Rajapakse as a co-defendant in the DC case.

The process to add another defendant will not be a complicated procedure as we have surmounted the service of process hurdles and that since the additional defendant is a US citizen, the plaintiff and the court will have less complex mechanisms at hand to effect service of process, Fein said.

pdf: SDNY Complaint against Silva

Ali Beydoun, lead counsel for the plaintiffs in Shavendra Silva case, said he is hopeful that the SDNY judge will likely not rule before scheduling a hearing for oral arguments from the attorneys. However, if the judge considers the legal argument in the motion from the defendant convincing on the issue of diplomatic immunity, the Judge may dismiss the case without a hearing.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), a US-based activist group, told TamilNet that two legal efforts are currently in progress, one involving post-surrender mass-rape of Tamil women, and the other involving complicity of Colombo in white-van abductions, torture, and incarceration. A legal document that will serve to press charges against a serving Sri Lanka diplomat in Europe for culpability in mass-rape is under preparation for filing with the prosecutor of the relevant EU state. The document is reported to include detailed graphics on where and how the crime occurred during March 2009 when the refugees were trickling out from the demarcated No Fire Zone and surrendered to the SLA, spokesperson added.

[Full Coverage]

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