“In a country with such a proud tradition of justice, where all citizens were once entitled to be considered innocent until proven guilty, people including a cabinet minister have been declared guilty without evidence, and the police have literally invited public complaints against these targeted four individuals in order to find them guilty of something – anything. Racists and xenophobes have hijacked our justice system and literally turned it upside down,” the Minister said in a statement today. Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera today said that every elected and appointed official in Sri Lanka has sworn an oath to uphold and defend a Constitution that does not give power to politicians, priests or social media platforms to decide who is guilty or innocent of any crime, including terrorism.Samaraweera said that deciding who is guilty or innocent is a sacred duty left to the judges, after a police investigation and fair trial. He said that if former Minister Rishard Bathurdeen or anyone else has committed a crime, there is a process for a criminal investigation to commence, for evidence against them to be presented before courts and for justice to take its course. “If they are guilty, they should be punished. Especially in the current context, our police and security forces have unprecedented autonomy to investigate and prosecute anyone remotely connected to these attacks,” Samaraweera said.He said that never in the history of Sri Lanka have people first been declared guilty by the press and in Parliament, only to thereafter have the police call for evidence that they may have committed a crime. “Mark my words. Had he (Bathurdeen) supported Mahinda Rajapaksa in Parliament last year, there would not have been a no-confidence motion against him. He would not be called a terrorist. There would be a new target. Even today he is being cajoled to join the other side in exchange for the removal of his “terrorist label.” This is a man who served as a Cabinet Minister under them for almost a decade, who we are supposed to believe suddenly became a terrorist overnight after he stood by the UNP and by democracy,” the Finance Minister said.
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