ECONOMYNEXT – Actress-turned politician Geetha Kumarasinghe has accused her police bodyguards of gross negligence leading to a gas stove fire that caused her severe burns nearly three weeks ago, officials said.
In a statement to police after recovering from burns suffered at her home in the Welikada police area at the beginning of this month, Kumarasinghe said she blamed her Ministerial Security Division (MSD) guards for the incident.
She told police that she had instructed her MSD security guard and the driver to check on a gas leak at her kitchen, but both had given the all clear.
As she tried to light a coconut oil lamp for the Buddha, the entire area was engulfed in flames which burnt her.
Shortly before that, she had sent the MSD guard and the driver to buy a new cylinder of cooking gas for her kitchen. The two men had set up the cylinder, but she suspected a leak.
However, since the two men assured her that there was no leak, she had struck a match at her shrine near the kitchen when disaster hit.
Kumarasinghe, 62, was rushed to hospital with severe burns.
Her appeal to the Supreme Court against a Court of Appeal decision disqualifying her as a member of parliament is due to be taken up on Monday.
Kumarasinghe’s election as a member of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party representing the district of Galle was declared invalid by the Court of Appeal.
A divided Supreme Court gave her a reprieve four months ago taking up the case and fixing it for September 25.
It is unusual for the highest court to put off such a hearing by four months when the spirit of the constitution is that a fate of an MP should be decided within two months.
The immigration controller has since announced that Kumarasinghe is the only dual citizen – holding Sri Lankan and Swiss nationality – in the 225-member parliament.
The three-judge Supreme Court bench, in a majority decision in May, extended a stay of her removal from parliament in line with a Court of Appeal decision that she was an usurper and had no right to remain in parliament.
She had violated the provisions of the constitution, according to the Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal had also ordered the attorney general to initiate action to recover all costs the state had incurred during the period Kumarasinghe held a seat in parliament.
Parliamentarians get duty-free cars, subsidised meals, free massages and bodyguards. (COLOMBO/Sept 23/2017)