No horse-trading with UNP over police probes – JO


By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Joint Opposition (JO) yesterday denied President Maithripala Sirisena’s accusations that high profile investigations into cases involving the Rajapaksas had been stalled due to a secret understanding between the top UNP leadership and the former leader.

MP C.B. Ratnayake and former External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris strongly repudiated the allegations in response to a query by The Island at the weekly JO briefing at Punchi Borella Former Minister Ratnayake and Prof. Peiris intervened after JO economic affairs spokesman Bandula Gunawardena said that the outfit wouldn’t accept President Sirisena’s allegations as well as Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayake denial of the statement attributed to President Sirisena by co-Cabinet spokesman and Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne.

President Sirisena told Cabinet of ministers last Tuesday that he needed the police and the Attorney General to be brought under his purview for three months to handle the situation. Minister Ratnayake strongly denied President Sirisena’s accusation at a media briefing at Temple Trees on Thursday.

In spite of being pressed to take a stand on the allegations and Minister Ratnayake’s response, MP Gunawardena said both positions taken by the President and the Minister were unacceptable to the JO and the outfit condemned efforts to interfere in the Attorney General’s department.

Declaring that the unsubstantiated allegations had been directed at those who had held key positions in the previous administration, Prof. Peiris challenged yahapalana administration to justify their claims.

Pointing out that former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa had been questioned by the PRECIFAC (Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Serious Acts of Fraud, Corruption, Abuse of Power, State Resources, and Privileges) in the wake of the President and the Law and Order Minister issuing contradictory statements on the status of investigations, Prof. Peiris said that they didn’t have to hide anything.

The former top law academic said that after having given a statement to the police, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa had told the media outside the PRECIFAC that he hadn’t amassed property during his tenure as the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence. Rajapaksa said that he hadn’t even bought a coconut estate during the previous administration whereas there were many who accumulated wealth. Rajapaksa called for a thorough investigation into those who had amassed wealth through devious means.

Minister Ratnayake said that after having obtained approval from President Sirisena and Premier Wickremesinghe, he was ready to brief the media in respect of all investigations undertaken by law enforcement agencies.

C.B. Ratnayake later told The Island that various interested parties propagated lies to undermine the real Opposition. "The JO represents the interests of the vast majority of those who have realised the deepening crisis caused by yahapalana misdeeds."

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