For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
The United National Party’s new media head Mangala Samaraweera has been summoned to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) headquarters on Tuesday.
“They want to record a statement from me regarding some posters that were put up by the party to protest against the 18th Amendment to the Constitution,” he told the Sunday Times. He said a CID Inspector had gone to Siri Kotha, the UNP headquarters and left a message. Thereafter, he had contacted Mr. Samaraweera and asked him to come to the CID headquarters.
The case was earlier investigated by the Mirihana Police. Mr. Samaraweera claimed responsibility for designing the posters and placing an order to print them at a press at Delkanda in Nugegoda. Nine employees of the printing press are being detained under the Emergency Regulations after police found posters depicting President Mahinda Rajapaksa as Idi Amin, the former military dictator of Uganda, and a god with six heads stamped with images of the President’s brothers and sons.
Mr. Samaraweera said he was expressing his thoughts in a democratic way. “I do not think there was anything defamatory in the posters.” But, Police claimed that the posters could have provoked the public.
Meanwhile, a fundamental rights petition has been filed by the owner of the printing press claiming that he was unlawfully arrested and detained.
The petitioner B.J. Bulathsinhala said that on September 9, he was approached by Mr. Samaraweera to print some posters against the implementation of the 18th Amendment and that as he was not in a position to print the said posters he gave the job to another press.