ECONOMYNEXT – Authorities must present evidence against detained Sri Lanka opposition MP Rishad Bathuideen or release him from prison, former prime minister and opposition United National Party (UNP) MP Ranil Wickremesinghe said.
Wickremesinghe requested Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena on Monday (04) to write to the Attorney General for clarification on whether a case can be filed against the MP with the available evidence.
Bathiudeen and his brother Riyaj were arrested on April 24 for alleged links to the 2019 Easter Sunday bombers. The brothers were arrested under provisions of Sri Lanka’s controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) for aiding and abetting and for maintaining connections with the attackers.
The former minister is also in the centre of a controversy surrounding a 16-year-old domestic aide employed at his residence who burnt to death in July. On September 06, he was remanded along with his wife and father-in-law in connection with the incident, and was further remanded last week till October 14.
Wickremesinghe told parliament that Bathidueen has been in detention the entire time the incident had taken place.
“If he is guilty, if there is evidence against him, take him to court and proceed with the case. If there is no evince, release him,” the former PM said.
“This isn’t a question about the MP. It’s a question about this house. If an MP is under arrest, there have to be charges against him or her,” he added.
Noting that Bathuideen was remanded regarding the domestic aide case on the possibility that he would interfere in the investigation, Wickremesinghe said: “If an MP is interfering in a case, that’s a problem.
“He was in custody under detention orders the entire time this crime was committed. Present to us any evidence against him. We can then take it to the privileges committee.”
On August 23, a medical doctor attached to the Welikada prison hospital lodged a police complaint against the detained MP for allegedly threatening his life.