Oct 14, Colombo: A Sri Lankan court today ordered the arrest of an opposition United National Party (UNP) lawmaker for instigating a clash with rival group's protest in Matara in the Southern Province.
The Matara Magistrate Court ordered police to arrest UNP MP Mangala Samaraweera and 11 others in connection with the clash in Matara on October 5. The clash injured seven people and damaged several vehicles.
The Matara Chief Magistrate Ruwan Sisira Kumara issued the arrest warrant on MP Samaraweera and 11 others including Sudath Chandrasekera, the private secretary of Opposition and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe, when the case was taken for hearing today.
The clash happened when a protest walk staged by a rebel group of the UNP calling to oust the party leader Ranil Wickremasinghe came under attack by the supporters of MP Samaraweera.
The protest walk led by the Southern Provincial Councilor Maithri Gunaratne, who was expelled from the UNP for his reformist stance, started from Devinuwara (Dondra) on October 5 and it was to proceed to Colombo in seven days.
The protest called for the resignation of party leader Ranil Wickremasinghe from his party leadership following another humiliating defeat of the party at the provincial council elections held last month.
MP Samaraweera has led another march staring from Wellamadama to show support to the UNP leader.
However, when the rebel faction's march reached the Matara town supporters of the MP armed with clubs have attacked the UNP rebels. During the clash Maithri Gunaratne's father Herman Gunaratne has opened fire into the attackers wounding three people including another UNP Provincial Councilor Krishantha Pushpakumara.
The police arrested 33 people including the elder Gunaratne for the shooting but the rebel faction demanded the arrest of the MP who reportedly led the armed supporters to instigate a confrontation.
The Chief Magistrate further remanded all suspects until October 21st when they were produced in court today.
MP Samaraweera has told a local radio station that he will report to the police tomorrow.