by Zacki Jabbar
Former Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa had claimed parliamentary immunity while shifting the blame on officials when he was questioned by police on Wednesday night over allegedly siphoning off Divineguma funds running into billions of rupees.
Government Spokesman and Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne speaking to a group of journalists after the weekly Cabinet Press Briefing in Colombo on Thursday said ” When Basil was questioned by the Financial Crimes Investigation Unit (FCIU) of the Police for allegedly using billions of rupees in Divineguma funds to finance former President Rajapaksa’s politicial activities,he had boldly replied that he was answerable to the legislature and the officials involved should be asked to explain their actions.”
Basil, who was interogated by the FCIU for around six hours on Wednesday was produced before the Kaduwela Magistrate along with former Ministry Secretary Dr. Nihal Jayathilake and Ex-Director General of Divineguma R.A.K. Ranawaka under the Public Property Act for misappropriation of Divineguma Funds.Court remanded them until May 5.
Senaratne, observed that the former Minister’s dismissive replies to the charges that had been leveled against him only complicated issues, resulting in the FCIU deciding to move court for him and the other two officials to be remanded pending the completion of investigations.
“Basil is very foolish.I have seen how he summons officials and openly directs them to how use state funds for political purposes .He, even went into minute details explaining how exactly it should be done. The Rajapaksas obviously believed that they would be in power for ever and would not be held accountable.But,the people decided otherwise and now they are in the dock”, Senaratne said.