- Gota’s lawyers seek postponement to answer allegations
- Ex-all-powerful official summoned over questionable transaction at Mihin Lanka during his tenure as Chairman
- Alleges ‘Sri Lanka has become a police state’
- Pro-Gota supporters defy Court order and demonstrate at Bribery Commission
- Rajapaksa has also been summoned to the Bribery Commission on 27 April to record a statement with regard to allegations pertaining to the floating armoury controversy
By Dharisha Bastians
The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption became the site of dramatic scenes again, when the former Defence Secretary and ex-Presidential sibling Gotabaya Rajapaksa arrived at its offices on Bauddhaloka Mawatha last morning.
Waving distorted versions of the National Flag and defying a Court order by the Colombo Chief Magistrate banning demonstrations in front of the Commission, crowds of protesters mobbed the ex-official’s vehicle when it arrived at the heavily-barricaded premises.
The Commission offices were provided tight security, with fully geared Riot Police and Police barricades in place to prevent unruly scenes.
SLFP MP and former Minister BandulaGunewardane accompanied the former Defence Secretary to the Commission session.
Greeting supporters as he left the Commission, Rajapaksa denied being involved in corruption.
“Today Sri Lanka has become a police state,” the ex-Defence Secretary said, echoing a charge that has been often made against his own tenure at the Ministry of Defence.
“In the past nine years I have not earned a single cent, apart from my salary and my army pension,” he claimed. Rajapaksa said that all ministry secretaries who served under the previous regime were being questioned and investigated. “All these allegations are baseless,” the former official charged.
“I served this country honestly as an official. If they can do this to an official like me, I don’t think any State official will work for this country again,” the once all-powerful official told supporters by microphone, hanging out of his vehicle.
His lawyers requested a postponement and a later date to answer the allegations brought against him in his capacity as Chairman of the budget airline Mihin Lanka.
Counsel for the former official, Attorney-at-Law SagaraKariywasam said the allegations were regarding incidents that occurred seven years ago.
“Mr. Rajapaksa worked for a short period as Chairman of Mihin Lanka. This transaction happened during this brief period. Notice was served on him to record a statement regarding that transaction. But this letter was received only four days ago and he does not have any documents regarding events that transpired seven years ago,” Kariyawasam told reporters outside the Commission yesterday.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa had served as Mihin Lanka Chairman at a time when he was extremely busy, the lawyer explained.
“He was conducting a war at the time when he served as Chairman. He cannot make a statement without studying documents from that time. We told the Commission that and asked for time to obtain the documents and peruse them before formulating a statement,” Attorney Kariyawasam noted.
He said the Commission had informed the legal team that a later date would be notified accordingly.
Rajapaksa has also been summoned to the Bribery Commission on 27 April to record a statement with regard to allegations pertaining to the floating armoury controversy.
Many of those demonstrating against the investigations into alleged fraud and misconduct by Gotabaya Rajapaksa waved a version of the Lion Flag that has become a consistent feature of pro-Rajapaksa demonstrations.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa waved a version of the Lion Flag that has become a consistent feature of pro-Rajapaksa demonstrations. The flag is conspicuous by the absence of the green and orange stripes that represent minority communities, both Muslim and Tamil, living in the island.
UPFA Provincial Councillor Udaya Gammanpila was among the protestors waving the altered flag during yesterday’s demonstration.
The protest was held by the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya, the JHU splinter group formed by Gammanpila when he defected from the monk-led party to support former President Rajapaksa’s re-election bid earlier this year. SLFP MP andformer Minister Dulles Alahapperuma was also among the demonstrators.
Crowds are being mobilised by the pro-Rajapaksa faction within the UPFA coalition, as investigations into allegations of corruption and financial fraud have begun to focus in earnest on once all powerful members of the former ruling family.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has also been issued notice to appear before the Bribery Commission today, but Justice Minister WijeyadasaRajapakshelater informed Parliament that investigators would go to him to record a statement.
The former President was issued notice regarding the fraud perpetrated by ex-UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake, who is accused of forging the signatures of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in the run up to the 8 January presidential poll. President Rajapaksa is also to be questioned regarding his offer of the Health Ministry portfolio to Attanayake in exchange for his defection during the election campaign.