Non-payment of ITN bills etc:
MR to face public trial


by Shamindra Ferdinando

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has been summoned by a special presidential commision again over his alleged failure to pay over Rs. 103 mn to the State-run Independent Television Network (ITN) for carrying his advertisements during the last presidential polls campaign will commence on Oct.15.

Well informed sources told The Island that former President Rajapaksa had been requested to be present at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to investigate and inquire into Serious Acts of Fraud, Corruption and Abuse of Power, State Resources and Privileges at 9 am. Hearings will continue on Oct 16, 29 and 30.

Responding to a query, sources said the former President had placed advertisements through two advertising firms to the tune of Rs.101,773,058 and Rs 2,467,812 respectively though initially the loss was estimated at Rs. 115 million.

The announcement regarding the public hearing was made in the wake of the Commission recording a statement from Minister of Technology, Technical Education and Employment Susil Premjayantha, former General Secretary of the UPFA.

Premjayantha is the first minister of the Maithripala Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government to be summoned by the Presidential Commission.

The Presidential Commission comprises four High Court judges, Preethi Padman Surasena (Chairman), Amendra Seneviratne, Vikum Kaluarachchi, Gihan Kulathunga and former Auditor General P. A. Premathilake. The Attorney General’s Department is represented by Senior State Counsels Sudarshana de Silva and Janaka Bandara.

Sources said the ITN had received Rs. 8,663,768 from an advertising firm working for the then Opposition presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena but refrained from telecasting advertisements valued at Rs. 8,633,768. Subsequently, the money had been returned to the advertiser. Sources acknowledged that earlier the amount returned to Maithripala Sirisena’s advertiser had been wrongly estimated at Rs. 89 mn.

The Presidential Commission was also inquiring into the circumstances under which the former President received much favourable advertising rates unlike his challenger, Maithripala.

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