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Sri Lanka President pulls up his police chief

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena Thursday demanded an explanation from Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Pujith Jayasundara after he was caught on camera interfering in an investigation.

President Sirisena said he condemned the action of IGP Jayasundara who was filmed assuring an unidentified telephone caller that he instructed the Financial Crimes Investigations Division not to arrest a "Nilame."

A local television network had been filming Jayasundara at a public event in Ratnapura when he stepped aside to answer a call. The cameraman kept recording Jayasundara and one part of the conversation is heard clearly.

The police chief is heard assuring the caller he repeatedly addressed as "sir, sir" and assuring that he had given "very clear instructions to the director of the FCID not to arrest the Nilame."

President Sirisena who addressed parliament Thursday during the committee stage debate of the budget said he watched the video and condemned Jayasundara’s behaviour.

"I have asked for his explanation," the president told the House.

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said the caller at the other end of the conversation was Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayake and challenged the minister to deny he was involved.

He said the "Nilame" (lay custodian of a temple) was Dishan Gunasekera who is accused of several financial crimes and wanted by the FCID. He had been dodging summons by the FCID and the police had obtained a court order this week to question him, Dissanayake said.

Gunasekera is a close relative of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and was the chairman of the Mineral sands Corporation under the previous regime. He is also the chief lay custodian of the Devinuwara Sri Vishnu temple.

The conversation clearly showed that FCID investigations were influenced by ruling party politicians and undermined the rule of law promised by Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Dissanayake said

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The embarrassing video recording also strengthened President Sirisena’s recent outburst against the FCID that it as well as the CID were working according to a political agenda.

The president also said he had remained silent for too long, but has now decided to speak out and take action. (COLOMBO, December 1, 2016)

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