(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – President’s Counsel Sanjeewa Jayawardena stated in the Supreme Court yesterday (05) that Rs. 3.3 billion have been spent for the construction of the building called “Miracle Dome” where Pastor Jerome Fernando, who is said to have made insulting remarks against other religions including Buddhism, conducts services and there should be an investigation as to how he has received such a large sum of money.
He also told the court that controversial British-Zimbabwean preacher Uebert Angel who is considered as Pastor Fernando’s spiritual leader, was accused of money laundering and gold smuggling in the state of Zimbabwe.
President’s Counsel Sanjeewa Jayawardena made these submissions when a fundamental rights petition filed by Pastor Jerome Fernando requesting the court to issue an order preventing his arrest by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) was considered in the Supreme Court yesterday.
The petitioner in his FR petition filed through his attorneys on May 26 claims that the Criminal Investigation Department is preparing to arrest him on charges of making an insulting statement against Buddhism and other religions during a service, and requests an interim restraining order to be issued to prevent it.
Thee Inspector-General of Police (IGP), the DIG in charge of the CID, the CID director and the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the cybercrimes unit of the CID had been named as the respondents of the petition.
When the petition was called before the Supreme Court bench of Justices S. Thurairajah, Kumuduni Wickramasinghe and Shiran Gunaratne yesterday (05), the bench decided to consider the petition on the 28th of July.
President’s Counsel Sanjeewa Jayawardena, represented six religious leaders, including Reverend Elle Gunawamsa Thero, who had filed an interlocutory petition requesting the dismissal of the petition filed by Reverend Jerome Fernando, presented the facts to the court.
He told the court that the intermediate party petitioners previously filed a fundamental rights petition in the Supreme Court and at the time it was called, the Attorney General gave a pledge to the Supreme Court that he would continue to investigate Pastor Jerome Fernando. He also mentioned that the petition will be called on July 28 to consider the progress of the investigations.
The President’s Counsel pointed out that Pastor Jerome Fernando, who is a respondent in that fundamental rights petition, should not file another fundamental rights petition, but file objections to the original petition and state his position.
He also mentioned that Pastor Jerome Fernando has been banned from traveling abroad by the Fort Magistrate Court.
President’s Counsel Rienzi Arsakularatne, who appeared on behalf of the petitioner Pastor Fernando, stated that it was scheduled to confirm the facts regarding this petition, but it was not possible due to the submission of this intermediate party petition. He also stated that he did not receive any document or notice related to the fundamental rights petition that these intermediate petitioners had previously filed in the Supreme Court.
He also mentioned that his client has been banned from traveling abroad by the court and there is a risk of being arrested as soon as he returns to Sri Lanka. Therefore, he requested the court to give a date for hearing the petition. However, he also stated that he will not object to the intervening party petition.
Senior Additional Solicitor General Priyantha Navana, who appeared for the Attorney General, also stated that he is not opposed to these intervening party petitions.
After considering the facts, the court allowed the interlocutory petition and ordered the respondent to file the objections within three weeks.
The bench decided to consider this petition and the fundamental rights petition filed earlier by religious leaders including Elle Gunawamsa Thero on July 28.
The Supreme Court Registrar was directed to list the two petitions and the interlocutory petition before a single bench.