Feb 09, Colombo: Sri Lanka today confirmed that the former Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga, who was wanted in connection with the investigation into the financial irregularities with regard to the MiG aircraft deal, was released by the UAE authorities.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Law & Order in a joint statement said today that Weeratunga was intercepted on the 4th February by UAE authorities and released but he is prevented from leaving the state.
The statement said that the former Ambassador to Russia and Ukraine had been evading an arrest warrant issued on 20 October 2016 by a Colombo Magistrate, in relation to investigations pertaining to alleged embezzlement of public funds to the tune of 7.833 million US dollars with regard to procurement of MiG aircraft and money laundering.
On the basis of a Blue Notice obtained by Interpol Sri Lanka on Weeratunga, Sri Lanka authorities has been working through mutual legal assistance with a number of countries to trace his whereabouts, the statement said.
He was intercepted in the UAE on Sunday 4th of February 2018 when he attempted to leave to the United States. This arrest was made on the basis of a 'Blue Notice' issued by the Interpol. The purpose of this notice was to trace and locate Mr. Weeratunga 'as a person of interest in a criminal investigation'.
However, as the law in the UAE and the rules governing Interpol 'blue notice' prevented the continued detention of Mr. Weeratunga, he had been released by the UAE authorities subsequently. And he presently remains in the UAE. The Police in the UAE are investigating this matter and Mr. Weeratunga has been prevented from leaving the territory of the UAE until the conclusion of these investigations.
In the meantime, the FCID, which is investigating the allegations and complaints against Weeratunga in Sri Lanka, is working with the Interpol in Abu Dhabi on this case. The Sri Lankan Embassy in Abu Dhabi has also retained Lawyers in the UAE specializing in immigration matters to advice the Government of Sri Lanka on this matter.
Moreover, a delegation of Sri Lankan officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Attorney General's Department and the FCID are presently in the UAE having discussions with the concerned authorities in the UAE with the aim of having Weeratunga deported to Sri Lanka to answer the allegations leveled against him.
Weeratunga in a statement posted on his Facebook said that he had been released by the Interpol in UAE as he was not on the wanted list.