Now,Yahapalana minister, Mahinda’s brother-in-law before probe commission

*SriLankan Catering probe


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Law and Order and Prisons Reforms Minister Priyankara Jayaratne has been summoned by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Serious Acts of Fraud, Corruption and Abuse of Power, State Resources, and Privileges (PRECIFAC).

The Commission plans to question Minister Jayaratne on Oct. 30 at the BMICH where the powerful body conducts investigations.

Commission sources told The Island that Minister Jayaratne’s statement had to be recorded in connection with an on-going high profile investigation into SriLankan Catering during the previous administration. The Puttalam District MP had been responsible for SriLankan Catering in his capacity as the then Aviation Minister.

Asked whether any other person had been summoned along with Jayaratne, sources said that former First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa’s brother, Nishantha Wickremasinghe, the then SriLankan Airlines Chairman had been called to testify.

Sources said the police were seeking to establish a connection between the Minister and the former SriLankan Chairman. A successful investigation would lead to a public hearing by the PRECIFAC comprising four High Court judges namely 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 Counsel Sudarshana de Silva and Janaka Bandara.

Responding to a question, sources said that Minister Jayaratne would be the first serving minister to be summoned by the PRECIFAC.

Having backed former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s candidature as the UPFA’s prime ministerial candidate at the Aug. 17 parliamentary polls, Jayaratne switched his allegiance to President Maithripala Sirisena.

SriLankan Catering had been also subject to a special investigation by attorney-at-law J.C. Weliamuna. The probe into SriLankan Catering is being carried out in accordance with an overall investigation into SriLankan Airlines.

Sources said that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, too, had been asked to be present on Oct. 29 and 30 regarding the on-going public hearing as regards non-payment of over Rs100 mn owed to the ITN for presidential polls campaign.

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