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Sri Lanka police chief stakes rise after AG appointment

ECONOMYNEXT – President Maithripala Sirisena overlooking the senior most state legal officer in choosing the attorney general has fuelled speculation that the same criteria — ability over seniority — will decide the next police chief.

President Maithripala Sirisena had initially suggested three names — Suhada Gamlath, Kapila Jayaratne and Jayantha Jayasuriya — and wanted the Constitutional Council to pick a candidate.

However, the Council sent the names back to the President saying it would be a violation of the constitution if they choose a new Attorney General. The council only has powers to veto a nominee of the president.

President Sirisena then suggested Jayasuriya who is junior to Gamlath despite strong backing from several ruling party seniors, including Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapaksha.

A council member said they had no hesitation in ratifying Jayasuriya who was seen as an upright individual. Government spokesman Minister Rajitha Senaratne and several others had accused Gamlath of holding up high profile cases.

With the leadership struggle at the Attorney general’s department out of the way, attention is now on the police department with Inspector General N. K. Illangakoon due to retire in April.

Under Illangakoon’s watch the department was accused of violating international law when he tried to invoke the UN human rights charter as a defence in assaulting protesting university student in Colombo late last year.

Blatant cover ups such as the Thajudeen murder as a traffic accident was also under Illangakoon and the senior most officer to replace him was a key figure heading former president’s security unit, Senior DIG S. M. Wickramasinghe.

At a time when several Presidential Security Division men have been implicated in the alleged Thajudeen murder that is still under investigation, appointing Wickramainghe could lead to a conflict of interest.

The Financial Crimes Investigations Department of the police have already begun probing the wealth accumulated by several body guards of the former president and a comprehensive investigation should inevitably include Wickramasinghe.

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Seniors in the police speculate that there are at least two Senior Deputy Inspectors of General who may be in contention. (Colombo/Feb12/2016)

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