Sept 14, Colombo: Co-Cabinet Spokesperson, Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne has said that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa can be taken to courts over his admission to having given the order to distribute 'Sil Redi' during his election campaign, state run radio said.
Former President and current Kurunegala District MP has accepted that he violated election laws during the period leading up to the 2015 Presidential Election by claiming that it was on his orders that his Secretary Lalith Weeratunga and the former Director General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) Anusha Palpita acted to distribute 'Sil Redi' to temples.
The former President, after visiting Weeratunga and Palpita in Welikada Prison, said the two were sentenced for having followed his orders.
Weeratunga and Palpita were found guilty of misappropriating Rs. 650 million of state funds for the reelection campaign of Rajapaksa. They were each sentenced to three years of rigorous imprisonment by the Colombo High Court.
Minister Senaratne pointed out that Rajapaksa's statement came in a little too late. "He should have made the statement earlier when the case was heard for 24 days, not after visiting Welikada," the Minister said addressing the weekly Cabinet media briefing Wednesday.
Rajapaksa's statement comes at a time when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution removed the Executive President's immunity from the law and all former and incumbent presidents are liable for prosecution in a court of law, the Minister pointed out.
Minister Senaratne added that the former president can even face contempt of court charges for questioning the verdict.
The Minister pointed out that on September 11, 2014, during the Uva elections, the Elections Commissioner had warned the government over distributing various goods to the people, and a special note was made on the distribution of 'Sil Redi' on that occasion.