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Attorney General wrong to withdraw charges – CJ By Saroj Pathirana, BBC Sinhala service

It is wrong for the Attorney General (AG) to withdraw criminal charges filed against a suspect, Sri Lanka’s Chief Justice (CJ) said.

The Chief Justice was referring to the recent withdrawal of charges against government politicians by the Attorney General.

“The AG does not have powers to withdraw charges if there is evidence,” CJ Asoka de Silva told BBC Sinhala service, Sandeshaya.

AG Mohan de Silva withdrew murder charges against former MP Chandana Katriarachchi while the trial on other charges was underway.

He also withdrew rape charges against Colombo district ruling party MP Duminda Silva, who is also the monitoring MP for the defence ministry.

‘AG to explain’

“I can only say it is wrong for the AG to withdraw the charges,” CJ Asoka de Silva said.

“But I don’t know why it happened; it is for the AG to explain why he withdrew the charges,” he said.

Sri Lanka’s former Chief Justice Sarath Nanda Silva earlier questioned the legality of AG’s action to withdraw the charges.

Sarath Nanda Silva, who held the position of CJ for over a decade said that the withdrawal of the charges “undermines judiciary and judicial independence.”

“If there was no evidence why did the AG file the charges?,” the former CJ questioned in an interview with BBC Sandeshaya.

The AG’s decision to withdraw charges while a case is proceeding is a violation of the accepted norms, according to the former CJ.

Outgoing Chief Justice added that the AG is the sole authority to file criminal charges against the suspects.

Asoka de Silva, who succeeded Sarath Silva in 2009, retires next month after holding the office for two years.

He will return to the UN tribunal -ICCPR -, he said, but has no plans to hold any other office despite requests from abroad and President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

BBC Sandeshaya will broadcast a series of interviews with the outgoing CJ during the next few days Abstraction by – http://www.bbc.co.uk/sinhala/news/story/2011/04/110417_asoka_duminda

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