NFF accuses govt of playing politics with Wimal’s PP issue


by Shamindra Ferdinando

National Freedom Front (NFF) Leader Wimal Weerawansa, MP, has said that due to an inadvertent error on the part of party workers handling his foreign travel, a passport revoked after it was found to have been misplaced was used by him leading to last Friday’s detention at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA).

 Having informed relevant authorities, MP Weerawansa had obtained a new passport. 

Weewawansa was planning to address a series of meetings in West Asia and Europe meant to educate Sri Lankans living abroad regarding the Geneva issue.

 He said party workers had found the annulled passport among a set of documents at the party headquarters and submitted it to relevant diplomatic missions.  

The NFF politburo alleged  that the government and various other interested parties had exploited the incident to tarnish party leader Weerawansa’s image. The NFF said that the passport had been misplaced after he shifted from ministerial residence in the wake of the UPFA’s defeat at the Aug. 17 parliamentary poll.

 The party claimed that Emigration and Immigration authorities at the BIA had told Weerawansa to bring his new passport promising him that he could go ahead with his planned visit. However, Weerawansa hadn’t been able to find the second passport due to him being taken to the Bribery Commission and the FCID (Financial Crime Investigation Division). The party said: "When this was brought to the notice of the Emigration and Immigration officers, they suggested that Weerawansa use the one day service to obtain a new passport to enable him to board a flight scheduled to leave BIA at 10 am on Oct 23.

 However, in accordance with instructions, Weerawansa had been compelled to lodge another complaint with the Talangama police to the effect that he had lost his second passport. On the basis of that complaint, the Passport Office had issued another passport though the police prevented him from leaving the country contrary to the assurance given by the Immigration and Emigration, the party said.

 The party said that though the Negombo Magistrate didn’t impose a travel ban on Weerwansa, the court didn’t hand over Weerawansa’s new passport due to strong objections by the Criminal Investigation Department. Weerawansa was enlarged on Rs.10,000 cash bail and two sureties of one million rupees each last Friday evening by the Magistrate. The case will be taken up on Oct. 28.

 The NFF alleged that the CID had made an unsuccessful attempt to secure a court directive from Aluthkade to prevent Weerawansa from leaving the country. However, the court had turned down the request as there was no basis for the request made by the police, the party said.

 Having blocked the NFF leader’s departure, the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government had claimed both in parliament and outside that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had intervened on behalf of the former JVPer, the party said.

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