Dec 11, Colombo: Sri Lankan Prime Minister's Coordinating Secretary Keerthi Weerasinghe who has allegedly issued a letter requesting a tax exception on a container that was found to contain the largest heroin haul in the country.
Weerasinghe has been removed from all positions he held at the Buddha Sasana Ministry, which comes under the Prime Minister's authority, Buddha Sasana Ministry in a communiqué issued today announced.
Buddha Sasana Ministry said that Coordinating Secretary had acted on his own and sought neither instructions nor permission from the Prime Minister beforehand.
The Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne came under intense pressure after it was discovered that the controversial letter to the Customs requesting a duty waiver has been issued by a secretary in PM's office on an official letterhead.
A letter, dated August 23rd and signed by the Coordinating Secretary seeking the waiving off of import charges on the relevant container, had reportedly been sent from the Prime Minister's office.
Ruling party coalition partner and Sinhala Buddhist party, Jathika Hela Urmaya (JHU) demanded the resignation or the arrest of the PM if he fails to take action against his staff and the extremist Buddhist organization Bodu Bala Sena also join in the demand for PM to resign.
Responding to the allegations, the Prime Minister's office clarified that the letter was issued by a Prime Ministerís Coordinating Secretary in the Buddha Sasana Ministry and not by the Prime Minister's Secretary.
At least 131 kilo grams of heroin hidden in cans packed into a container, which is supposedly contained lubricants and sent from the Pakistani port of Karachi, was seized on August 30th. Earlier reports said 260 kilo grams of heroin worth about 1.52 billion rupees were recovered from three containers.
Meanwhile issuing a separate communiqué,Weerasinghe stated that Gampola Town Council member Taranga Vittachchi is a close associate of the businessman who brought down the heroin container and the letter, addressed to South Asia Gateway Terminal, asking a duty waive for a container of bath room fittings, was issued at the request of the Council member, local private radio Hiru FM reported.