Senior Human Rights Lawyer Scott Gilmore said he should respond within three weeks of being served the notice.
One of the civil cases against Gotabaya Rajapaksa was filed by ITJP in partnership with Hausfeld law firm on behalf of Canadian citizen Roy Samadanam.
Another case was also filed against the former defence secretary filed by another organisation on behalf of assassinated Sri Lankan journalist Lasantha Wickrematunga. The second lawsuit was filed by Ahimsa Wickrematunge seeking damages from Rajapaksa for instigating and authorizing the extrajudicial killing of her father, who was the former Editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper.The Centre for Justice and Accountability in San Francisco had filed that case.
Earlier criminal suits were spearheaded by the human rights group International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) and Carlos Castresana Fernandez, an advisor to the CJA against former Army Commander Jagath Jayasooriya.
First case filed in a foreign country
ITJP Executive Director Yasmin Sooka
Yasmin Sooka, the executive director at the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) said the culture of impunity related to torture and sexual violence was entrenched in Sri Lanka during a press conference held in London yesterday, following two civil lawsuits being filed in the United States against Sri Lanka's former defence secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa over torture.
Sooka was accompanied by Scott Gilmore, a human rights lawyer, Wessesn Jazrawi, a lawyer at Hausfeld and Roy Samathanam, a Tamil torture survivor who now resides in Canada. They said that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa does not have to be a US citizen for such charges to be filed.
They said that although charges have been filed in a foreign country, it is possible under the Torture Victim Protection Act.
“The important factor was that he was in the US and not necessarily a US citizen. As he was in the US, we were able to serve him the papers personally,” Hausfeld Law Firm had said.
“Under international law, Mr Rajapaksa bears command responsibility for the abuses carried by his security forces,” Gilmore said in a joint statement released yesterday by ITJP and Hausfeld.
Rajapaksa, who oversaw a military offensive that massacred tens of thousands of Tamils, was formally served notice of the lawsuit at a Trader Joe’s parking lot in Pasadena, California.
G.L admits case filed against Gota
Gota being handed the summons
Premier Group International a spy firm confirmed that Rajapaksa was served notice.
Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was seen being handed over an envelope and Ideal Investigation Company had said that they had been tracking Gotabhaya and had eventually served him the papers.
The Chairman of the SLPP Professor G.L. Pieris had also admitted that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa had been served papers.
Gilmore said that there is provision to file torture charges against anyone responsible in the US and many other countries.
Gilmore is a human rights lawyer stationed in Washington, and has represented many victims of abuse and torture.