Political victimization commission releasing criminals – Vijitha Herath
ECONOMYNEXT- National Peoples’ Power (NPP) is accusing the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into political victimization (PCOI) of trying to save fraudsters, corrupt officials and murderers using victimization as an excuse to release them from a number of court cases.
NPP Parliamentarian Vijitha Herath told reporters yesterday that court cases filed against government members such as Minister Udaya Gammanpila cannot be considered as political victimization.
Herath pointed out that Gammanpila has been charged for defrauding an Australian businessman in a private transaction but he said that the commission has recommended that the Minister should be acquitted and released.
“How can that private transaction become political victimization, how can the commission say the court case should be withdrawn,” he asked.
Also, he said that the commission has recommended filing a court case against the aggrieved party that filed the court case against Gammanpila making them the respondents.
In 2016, Minister Gammanpila was alleged to have cheated LKR20 million and misappropriated another LKR21 million along with Sydney Jayasinghe, the second accused when selling shares of Digital Nominees to a businessman called Dhammika Perera.
The Former Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya charged that the alleged business transaction had taken place using a fraudulent power of attorney to sell shares belonging to Australian businessman Brian Shaddick.
Further, Herath said that the commission also recommends that Udayanga Weeratunga who is the main accused of the infamous MiG aircraft deal to be released from all the accusations against him.
“This commission is telling to release a person who was hunted by Interpol by issuing an International red notice in the past, a person who was in hiding who has the court case still going against him.,” he added.
Weeratunga, who handled the so-called pilot project launched by Sri Lanka tourism by bringing in about 1500 Ukrainians to Sri Lanka prior to the Airport opening last week was extradited to Sri Lanka from Dubai and was arrested by the CID at Katunayake Airport on Last February.
Weeratunga is alleged to have committed financial fraud during the procurement of four MiG 27 aircraft and the renovation of three MiG 27’s and a MiG 23 aircraft for the Sri Lanka Air Force in 2006.
In 2016 a Red warrant notice was issued by the Colombo Magistrate’s Court seeking Interpol’s assistance for his arrest.
In 2018 Weeratunga was arrested by authorities in Dubai after he was spotted there. However, he was released later despite the efforts of the Sri Lankan authorities to deport him to Sri Lanka.
Later Weeratunga was ordered to be released on a cash bail of Rs.2.5 million with two sureties of Rs.50 million each by Colombo Fort Magistrate on April 2020.
Herath said that commission through their final report has recommended the release of Basil Rajapaksa, Willy Gamage, Rohitha Bogollagama, Udayanga Weeratunga, Damayanthi Jayarathna, Mahinda Kahadagamage, Nissanka Senadhipathi, Jaliya Wickremasuriya, Pillayan, Nalaka Godahewa and Udaya Gammanpila.
The final report of the Commission of Inquiry (PCOI) was handed over to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on December 7, 2020, by its Chairman retired Supreme Court Judge Upali Abeyratne.
The three-member Commission was appointed on January 9, 2020. It inquired into complaints of political victimization that occurred between January 8, 2015, and November 16, 2019. The Commission had thoroughly investigated serious frauds, misuse of state resources, privileges, powers and authority and corruption.
The report consists of 2,043 pages and three volumes. It contains information on 198 complaints lodged at the Commission.
In January 2020, President Rajapaksa appointed a Presidential Commission to look in to and obtain information on political victimizations caused by the activities of the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID), the Bribery Commission, and the Police Special Investigation Unit (SIU) during the said period. The Commission had received 1,971 complaints.
Moreover, the Cabinet decided earlier this month to take necessary steps to implement the decisions and recommendations of the commission and also to submit the report to the Parliament. (Colombo/Jan27/2021)
Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe