Swiss concerned at the arrest of staffer

The government of Switzerland is expressing concern at the arrest of their Embassy staffer by police and is calling for due process to be followed, warning that “in this high-profile case Sri Lanka’s reputation as a country that upholds the rule of law is at stake.”

Yesterday the CID arrested Garnier Banister Francis the embassy Visa Assistant who alleged that she was abducted by unknown armed men who identified themselves as Police Officers and demanded she discloses embassy related information.

The Sri Lankan government says nothing of the kind has happened and has detained Francis for making false statements. The Swiss statement, in turn, has criticized the Sri Lankan government for making public statements “questioning her account before the investigations had been completed.”

“The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) has repeatedly called for due process to be followed. In particular, the FDFA has criticized the 30-hour interrogation to which the employee was subjected over three days despite being in poor health” the statement added.

The Ambassador for Switzerland Hanspeter Mock met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday and reiterated “that it is seeking a common and constructive way forward to resolve the security incident.”

What has emerged from the two contradictory statements from Colombo and Berne is that the Swiss believe that their staffer was subjected to some intimidation and that Colombo is convinced she is lying and that her motives are questionable.

The full statement from Berne is here.

On President Rajapaksa’s Facebook page a statement said:

“Focusing on recent incident involving a locally recruited official of the Swiss Embassy, (Ambassador Hanspeter) MOCK stressed that Switzerland harboured no intention to do any harm to Sri Lanka.”

“We wish to work together for the benefit of both countries. Also we need to overcome this situation of tension and to remove any misunderstanding,” the Swiss Ambassador said.

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“In response, I explained the progress of investigations into the incident and explained that the investigations have so far revealed the fact that the alleged abduction is a total fabrication by some interested parties to bring myself and my government into disrepute. I requested the Ambassador to cooperate with the government to conduct the investigation to its end so that the truth would be emerged (Sic) .”

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