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* Presidential Commission of Inquiry decides to name former Prime Minister as a witness
Sat, Sep 19, 2020, 09:52 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Sept 19, Colombo: The Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Political Victimization today decided to name former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who had been named as a respondent in connection with several complaints lodged against him, as a witness.

Chairman of the Commission, retired Supreme Court Judge Upali Abeyratne said the decision was taken based on a complaint lodged by Dr. Nihal Jayatilleke, former Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Development.

Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, former ministers Mangala Samaraweera, Champika Ranawaka, Malik Samarawickrema as well as MP M.A. Sumanthiran and National People's Power leader MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake appeared before the commission today in response to complaints lodged by Dr. Nihal Jayatilleka, former Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Development and Kithsiri Ranawaka, former Director General of the Divi Neguma Department.

Former Minister and Member of Parliament Patali Champika Ranawaka, who has been named as a respondent in connection with the complaints, testified before the Commission.

He said that the change of government took place in August 2015 due to the grievances of the society due to the failure of the process of justice through the courts in response to the complaints lodged at Commission to Investigate Bribery or Corruption or the police.

Mr. Ranawaka further said the former President Maithripala Sirisena was given the mandate to build an action against corruption and fraud and a committee was set up to do justice to the grievances of the people respecting the people’s mandate.

He said a mechanism to investigate corruption was set up by former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The chairman of the commission questioned Champika Ranawaka whether the anti-corruption committee was active in dealing with the corruption of who were partisan to former President Maithripala Sirisena and the government. At least a B report has not been filed, the presiding judge said.

Responding to the Chairman of the Commission, Ranawaka said investigations were conducted into then government members Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Rajitha Senaratne and Sajith Premadasa.

In response to the presiding judge MP Ranawaka said he was not aware whether the relevant investigations had been carried out through the Anti-Corruption Committee.

Attorney-at-Law Senarath Jayasundara, appearing for Dr. Nihal Jayatilleke, asked Mr. Ranawaka whether the strategy adopted by the Anti-Corruption Committee was to create a special mechanism to investigate large scale corruption and fraud during the previous government for a select group and to formulate a special mechanism to take legal action against them.

Patali Champika Ranawaka told the commission that the anti-corruption committee was set up to punish a special group of thieves.

The presiding judge questioned whether the committee was also planning to make a separate law for a select group of people, which would go beyond the existing legal framework and establish another mechanism in a cabinet memorandum.

"No, it was done through the existing mechanism," Mr. Ranawaka said.

Meanwhile, former Minister Mangala Samaraweera, a member of the Anti-Corruption Committee, also answered cross-examination before the Commission today.

Responding to cross-examination, Mangala Samaraweera said that it had to be acknowledged that in prosecuting large scale fraudsters, the government of good governance had caught sprats while trying to catch sharks.

“It is because we did not do it right that the people have punished us once again,”

Samaraweera responding to cross-examination said he knew nothing about the Anti-Corruption Committee.

The lawyer pointing out that however, Rs. 7.5 million has been paid to the committee members said the money has been wasted due to an improper cabinet decision and the money is being misused on the path to a political goal.

Replying to this, Mangala Samaraweera stated that he does not consider it as a misuse of money.

Although notices were issued by the Presidential Commission on several occasions, MPs Rauf Hakeem, R. Sampanthan and Sarath Fonseka did not appear before the Commission.


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