Sri Lanka probes alleged abuses by ex-president

imagesColombo – From 68,000 campaign clocks and bulletproof limousines to billions believed stashed abroad, nothing is being overlooked as the new Sri Lankan government sets about investigating the administration of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Since his stunning defeat at the hands of Mr Maithripala Sirisena in the Jan 8 election, Mr Rajapaksa has faced growing accusations of abuse of power, including a failed coup attempt to deny Mr Sirisena victory.

The media, once muzzled under his nine-year rule, has been writing about the lavish lifestyles of Mr Rajapaksa and his family members. His country home was recently searched by officials looking for an Italian sports car and a private plane the family is believed to own.

“Our family has been in politics since 1931. But never our homes came to be searched. I ask them to stop this political revenge,” Mr Rajapaksa, 69, was quoted by the Deccan Herald as saying in the central town of Kandy.

Background story

RIVAL: The government has exonerated former army chief Sarath Fonseka of all charges, including treason, that were filed by Mr Rajapaksa after they fell out during a row over who should take the credit for the victory over the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009.

CASH: The Sri Lankan government has pledged to trace billions of dollars in stolen wealth stashed abroad by members of the previous regime. Energy Minister Champika Ranawaka has accused Mr Rajapaksa and his family of siphoning off S$7.2 billion.

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