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* Presidential Commission questions former PM on FCID
Fri, Oct 16, 2020, 11:53 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Oct 16, Colombo: Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe acknowledged that the gazette notification to set up a Police Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) would not be legal if the Inspector General of Police does not have the power to establish a new police division under the Police Ordinance.

The former Premier was testifying before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Political Victimization today in response to a complaint lodged by the former Additional Director of the Divi Neguma Department and current Director General of Samurdhi Bandula Thilakasiri.

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry has issued notices in response to the complaint to 21 respondents including the former Prime Minister and Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa.

Testifying before the Commission, the former Prime Minister stated that the document containing the composition and activities of the Anti-Corruption Committee Secretariat was prepared by Mr. JC Weliamuna, PC, who was a member of the Anti-Corruption Committee.

Referring to the Cabinet paper on the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Committee Secretariat, the lawyer for the complainant said that only the Secretary to the Ministry had been instructed by the Cabinet paper to set up a police unit. However, the gazette notification pertaining to the establishment of the Financial Crimes Investigation Division was issued by the IGP and not by the Secretary to the Ministry, he pointed out.

Responding to this the former Prime Minister stated that the IGP has that power.

The plaintiff's lawyer quoting Article 55 of the Police Ordinance reiterated to the former Prime Minister that the IGP was not empowered to set up another unit under the relevant section.

The Chairman of the commission, former Supreme Court Judge Upali Abeyratne said that the IGP had acted under a power not found in the Act.

Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe replied, "They say the IGP can set up police divisions, but our cabinet paper does not mention the establishment of divisions, it only mentions the establishment of a secretariat on corruption."

The presiding judge of the commission emphasized that the IGP had set up a unit under a power he did not have.

"I do not know. I remember they reported that the secretary did not have the power to do this, only the IGP had the power to do this," the former prime minister said.

The presiding Judge again stated that the IGP did not have the power to establish a police station under the Police Ordinance.

The complainant’s Attorney pointed out that the Financial Crimes Investigation Division was established under Section 55 of the Police Ordinance but the Article 55 does not give such a power.

The lawyers representing the Leader of the Opposition informed the Commission that the Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa had not been summoned as a respondent and that he had come to know about it through media reports. They stated that their client had not received a summons to appear before the Commission today.

Mr. Sajith Premadasa informed the Commission that copies of documents pertaining to Mr. Bandula Thilakasiri's complaint were required.

The hearing is scheduled to be called again on the 20th.

Meanwhile, Ranil Wickremesinghe also testified today regarding a complaint lodged by former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga to the Presidential Commission.

Udayanga Weeratunga has complained to the Commission that the Financial Crimes Division had filed a case against him in the Fort Magistrate's Court in connection with the purchase of MiG fighter jets from Ukraine in 2006 with the intention of seeking political revenge.

The lawyer who appeared for Weeratunga questioned Ranil Wickremesinghe regarding the revocation of his client's passport in connection with the case.

Mr. Wickremesinghe stated that although discussions had been held with the Cabinet and the police at that time, he had never pressured to revoke Udayanga Weeratunga’s passport.

He pointed out that it was normal for a passport to be revoked if a person did not report to court. Mr. Wickremasinghe further stated that he has learned that the passport of former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen has also been revoked.

 

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