Sunday Leader tenders unconditional apology to Gotabaya

Sunday Leader tenders unconditional apology to Gotabaya

March 6, 2015   01:25 pm

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The Sunday Leader has tendered an unconditional apology to former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa in courts for a defamatory publication regarding MiG aircraft purchases.

The defamation case filed by Gotabaya Rajapaksa against Lasantha Wickrematunge and the Sunday Leader on its reporting on MiG 27 purchase by the Defence Ministry was taken up at the District Court of Mt. Lavinia today.

The controversial MiG 27 deal was first revealed by Sunday Times Defence Correspondent and Senior Journalist Iqbal Athas in December 2006 and further exposed in The Sunday Leader then edited by murdered Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge.

The Sri Lankan weekly newspaper, in its article, had alleged massive financial fraud during the purchasing of the aircraft.

 

Full Apology issued by the Sunday Leader;

 

APOLOGY TO MR. GOTABHAYA RAJAPAKSHE

 

        The Sunday Leader Newspaper had carried out the following articles regarding the purchase of MIG 27 aircrafts to Sri Lanka Air Force through the Ministry of Defense;

 

  1. MIG DEAL CRASH LANDS ON GOVERNMENT, published on Sunday the 15th of July 2007,
  2. LID BLOWN ON GHOST COMPANY THAT DID THE MIG DEAL, published on the 25th of July 2007,
  3. CONTROVERSIAL MIG 27 PROCUREMENT WHO PROFITED FROM THE MIG DEAL, published on Sunday the 5th of August 2007,
  4. MIG DEAL CRASH LANDS ON DEFENSE MINISTRY, published on Sunday the 2nd September 2007.

 

          By the said articles the Sunday Leader Newspaper had raised doubts about the manner in which the purchases relating to MIG 27 aircrafts and overhauling of the existing fleet of MIG 27 aircrafts of Sri Lanka Air Force had been carried out.     

 

         The then Secretary to the Ministry of Defense had instituted an action bearing number 6036/M in the District Court of Mount Lavinia claiming inter-alia that the said publications carried out by the Sunday Leader Newspaper had defamed his character and reputation and thereby sought damages.

 

        During the trial which took place at the District Court of Mount Lavinia Mr. Jayanath Kumarasiri representing Sri Lanka Air Force, Mr. S. Hendawithana a pilot who took part in the operations and in the purchasing of MIG 27 aircrafts and Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapakshe himself testified producing all relevant documents regarding the purchase of the said aircrafts and overhauling the existing fleet of aircrafts and records of the operation of the said aircrafts.

 

          Having carefully perused through the oral and documentary evidence the Sunday Leader Newspaper is now of the opinion that the said purchase had taken place according to the existing rules and regulations and throughout such transaction the transparency expected of a military purchase had been strictly maintained.

 

          We accept that the purchase of the MIG 27 and overhauling of MIG 27 aircrafts referred to in said articles were to the benefit of Sri Lanka Air Force and such aircrafts purchased and overhauled had a pivotal role in the historic operations against the LTTE.

 

         Therefore, we hereby unequivocally apologise to Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapakshe, the then Secretary to the Ministry of Defense for any pain of mind and/or loss of reputation and/or defamation of character which had caused to him as a result of such publications.

 

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