Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tissainayagam case: Bail application put off for Monday

By S.S. Selvanayagam - Pending his appeal against the High Court judgment, the Appeal Court yesterday put off for Monday senior journalist J.S. Tissainayagam’s petition requesting bail filed.

The case came up before Justice Sisira de Abrew with counsel Anil Silva with M.A. Sumanthiran, Sharmaine Gunaratne and Suren Fernando appearing for Mr. Tissainayagam.

Mr. Tissainayagam was arrested on March 7, last year and on August 31 he was sentenced to 20 years hard labour on three counts -- conspiring to edit, print and distribute the publication of North Eastern Monthly magazine between June 1, 2006 and June 1, 2007; collecting money to publish the magazine supportive of terrorism and for inciting communal feelings through the articles in the magazine.

He pleaded not guilty at the High Court trial where a document purported to be a confession made by him was used as evidence but Mr. Tissainayagam in his bail application said he did not make such a confession. Mr. Tissainayagam in his bail application that during his youth, he met with an accident which necessitated surgery to his eye and had been diagnosed as having a serious eye ailment called ‘retinal detachment resulting in myopic degeneration’.

He said the physical stress he was undergoing could result in irreversible loss of sight and thus required constant medical care and close monitoring of his eye condition to prevent such a fate.

Mr. Tissainayagam said that although he had filed an appeal, it might not be taken up for hearing about two years due to the backlog of cases and unless he was released on bail pending appeal, any relief that might be granted to him thereafter would be negated in the event of losing his eye sight, due to prolonged incarceration, prolonged stress and inadequate medical facilities.

He also said that apart from this conviction, there had been no other blemish to his character; he has not been convicted of any crimes previously and had at all times acted as a law abiding citizen.

Mr. Tissainayagam said he had canvassed for the rights of many disadvantaged persons(without discrimination, and at times at serious risk to himself), and in these circumstances, there was no fear of his not being present to receive the decision of the appellate court in the case.

© Daily Mirror

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