Farcical scenes before Rajitha is remanded

Parliamentarian Rajitha Senaratne is now the second senior ex-Cabinet Minister from the United National Front government to be arrested and jailed by the Police after the Presidential elections.

Senaratne who is in a private hospital in Colombo, has been remanded until Monday.

The first to be arrested was former minister Patali Champika Ranawaka who was charged over a non-fatal traffic accident which took place in 2016.

Senaratne is charged by the CID with multiple offences. The first charge is that he falsely accused then Presidential Candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa of being responsible for the so-called White-van abductions during the campaign by holding a press conference with persons who claimed they drove these dreaded vans.

He is also charged under several sections of the Penal Code which relate to the conduct of elections.

Senaratne’s arrest came after a series of farcical scenes around Colombo over the past few days.

On December 24, Attorney General Dappula de Livera instructed the Director CID to arrest Senaratne over the controversial White Van Press conference.

In the arrest of Ranawaka and Senaratne instructions for the arrest of these politicians have come from the AG to the Police. Normally Police would first conduct an investigation into a complaint and then report to the AG who would then instruct the Police to seek an arrest warrant.

The Colombo Additional Magistrate Bandara Nelundeniya then issued an arrest warrant, but Senaratne’s lawyers immediately asked court to withdraw the warrant, claiming that the request for the warrant was illegal. However, shortly afterwards Senaratne’s lawyers withdrew the application.

Since then CID had been looking for the ex-Minister and maverick government spokesman. Various reports said that the Special Task Force Commandos and CID officers searched Senaratne’s official and private residences but were unable to locate him.

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This caused the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake to tell reporters “maybe the police should check out the Prime Minister’s residence to see whether Rajitha is there.”

Eventually sometime this afternoon Senaratne checked into the Lanka Hospital at Narahenpita and was admitted to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit.

The CID located him there and formally arrested the MP.

Later another Additional Magistrate Shalani Perera visited Senaratne in the hospital, checked on his condition and remanded him.

Senaratne’s health has been affected by his blood pressure rising due to stress, his lawyers told the court. They added that his doctors have advised him to rest.

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