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Udayanga Weeratunga arrested after being extradited

ECONOMYNEXT – Udayanga Weeratunga the former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia was extradited this morning to Sri Lanka from Dubai and was arrested by the CID at Katunayake Airport,  Police Spokesman Superintendent Jaliya Senaratne told EconomyNext.

He said that the Sri Lankan authorities went to Dubai and brought him back to Katunayake from where he was taken into custody by the CID.

Weeratunga was being questioned this morning and Senaratne said it has not been decided what he will be charged with.

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.

He was released by Dubai courts as the law in the UAE and the rules governing the Interpol ‘Blue Notice’ prevented the continued detention of Weeratunga.

He was released from custody but prevented from leaving Dubai. 

Weeratunga is also wanted by the Ukranian government for his alleged involvement in providing arms to pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine when he was the country’s envoy in Russia.

A complaint regarding the ex-envoy was made by the Ukranian government to the Foreign Ministry in Sri Lanka demanding an investigation.

When Weeratunga was arrested by Dubai Authorities in 2018 the Ukranian government also requested that he be returned to Ukraine to investigate into arms dealing as he is a citizen of that country.

Also, it was revealed through the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) on irregularities at SriLankan Airlines that Weeratunga recommended the appointment of Sri Lanka Limited as SriLankan Airlines’ General Sales Agent (GSA) to Russia.

The appointment was approved by then SriLankan Airlines Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe.

It was reported that it was the first time a diplomat had recommended a General Sales Agent of an airline to another country.

And it was a direct violation of rules formulated in 2009 which stipulates that prior to selecting a GSA, SriLankan should conduct a market survey of new territory and call for applications through advertisements in newspapers and SriLankan websites and also hold a legal and financial review.

(Colombo, February 14, 2020)

-Edited by Arjuna Ranawana

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