Sri Lanka jails Rajapaksa's top aide
Sep 07, 2017 13:53 PM GMT+0530 | 3 Comment(s)
ECONOMYNEXT - The Colombo High Court today jailed top civil servant Lalith Weeratunga for three years making him the first member of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa's administration to be convicted for corruption.
Weeratunga was also fined two million rupees and ordered to pay 50 million rupees in damages for the "criminal misappropriation" of 600 million rupees of money belonging to the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission which he chaired.
He and the then Director General of the TRC, Anusha Palpita, were accused of diverting the money to buy white cloth (sil redi) to be distributed among Buddhist devotees in the run up to the January 2015 presidential election.
Elections Chief Mahinda Deshapriya in his evidence said he saw white cloth being distributed along with Mahinda Rajapaksa's election propaganda material and he had at the time ruled it a violation of election laws too.
Weeratunga, the then Secretary to the President and the head of the civil service was found guilty of criminal misappropriation and the violation of public property act. He also becomes the highest ranking government official to be jailed for his actions while in office.
Palpita was also jailed for three years for allowing its cash to be diverted for Rajapaksa's election propaganda work. He too was fined two million rupees and ordered to pay 50 million rupees in damages to the TRC, failing which he will have to spend another two years in jail.
"The charges against the two accused have been proved beyond reasonable doubt," High Court judge Gihan Kulatunga said while sentencing the two men, the first to go to jail from the Rajapaksa administration.
Two of the three Rajapaksa sons, including legislator Namal, have been charged with money laundering and those cases are still pending. Former minister Basil Rajapaksa and former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa are also facing investigations.
(COLOMBO, Sept 7, 2017)