Sri Lanka sailors in hot water for backing Yoshitha

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s navy on Monday suspended four sailors who publicly expressed solidarity with the jailed son of former strongman president Mahinda Rajapaksa, a spokesman said.

Captain Alavi Akram said the rugby playing sailors were suspended after they displayed Lieutenant Yoshitha Rajapaksa’s name in a sign of sympathy during a match against the navy just outside Colombo on Sunday.

"The navy took disciplinary action against the four sailors for expressing solidarity with an officer facing fraud charges," spokesman Akram said. "An internal inquiry is underway."

Yoshitha, who joined the navy in December 2006 was remanded by the Kaduwela magistrate on January 30 following allegations of money laundering, tax evasion, forgery and misappropriation of public funds when his father was president.

The 27-year-old Yoshitha and his two brothers have played for the national team as well as the navy team.

The Rajapaksa family faces several corruption investigations while Yoshitha faces a separate naval inquiry that he travelled abroad 25 times without permission of his superiors. He is also accused of enlisting as an officer without the basic minimum educational qualifications.

The former leader who lost the January 2015 election to Maithripala Sirisena has accused the new government of leading a witch hunt targeting his family. Rajapaksa and his relatives controlled nearly 70 percent of Sri Lanka’s national budget during his decade in power.

The new president has vowed to investigate allegations that members of Rajapaksa’s family siphoned off billions of dollars from the country. Local rights organisations have accused the government of not taking swift action to investigate corruption under Rajapaksa’s rule. (COLOMBO, Feb 15, 2016)

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