Monday June 18, 2018

Watch dogs fight over Sri Lanka land mark jailing

Sep 07, 2017 20:09 PM GMT+0530 | 0 Comment(s)

 ECONOMYNEXT - Sri Lanka jailing the country's top civil servant on a criminal misappropriation charge has sparked a battle among watch dog organisations claiming credit for the land mark prosecution.

Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) for the first off the blocks to thank many involved in exposing what they saw as an election malpractice by distributing textiles among voters along with Mahinda Rajapaksa's propaganda material.

"A heartfelt thank you to the Elections Department, Election Monitors PFFERAL, CMEV and TI, Ravi Widyalanankara, Thusith Mudalige (Anti corruption Secretariat) and Wasantha Samarasinghe of JVP and others for continuously pushing for justice...,"  CaFFE chief Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon said.

Elections chief Mahinda Deshapriya in his evidence in the prosecution of Lalith Weeratunga, the then Secretary to the President, said his actions violated election laws too.

The Colombo High Court found that Weeratunga, who was also the chairman of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), was guilty of misappropriating 600 million rupees of TRC funds and diverting it for Rajapaksa's campaign.

Weeratunga did not personally benefit from his actions, but the court nevertheless found he was guilty of criminal misappropriation and in violation of the TRC act.

The then TRC director general Anusha Palpita was also sentenced to three years in jail. Both were fined 2 million rupees each and were also asked to pay 50 million rupees each as damages to the TRC.

Transparency International's former employee Shan Wijetunge accused Tennakoon of not giving credit where it was due.

"It is a pity that you have not given credit to the team who was first to expose the racket," Wijetunge said writing on Tennakoon's facebook page.

"The team who represent the Programme for Protection of Public Resources (PPPR) were the first to investigate and expose the entire sill redi scam.

"Without the exposure of TISL's (Transparency International Sri Lanka) PPPR team this would have been a another subsidy project conducted by the government for the benefit of public.'

Wijetunge said it was the PPPR which had first raised the issue with the Election Commissioner.

The PPPR had also unearthed information from three companies which supplied the "sil redi" material. PPPR was heavily criticised by Buddhist monks who supported the then government. (COLOMBO, Sept 7, 2017)


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