Gotabaya seeks Rs 1 billion in damages from Watagala

GOTHA 4Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa has sent a letter of demand to JVP Western Provincial Councillor Attorney-at-Law Sunil Watagala, seeking Rs 1 billion in damages over alleged malicious and defamatory remarks made by the latter against him.

Rajapaksa has sent the letter of demand to Watagala, through his attorney Sanath Wijewardane.

In the letter Wijewardane states that his client, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, had served as the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development and that he had provided decisive assistance to military operations carried out to defeat LTTE terrorism and unite the country.

“Therefore my client has become the number enemy to separatist groups and various parties assisting separatists,” he says.

On Wednesday (6), Watagala had filed a complaint against Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and several other individuals at the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption alleging financial fraud during the 2013 Deyata Kirula Exhibition held in Ampara.

Apart from Rajapaksa, the complaint has also named former District Secretary Neil de Alwis, Ampara Urban Council Chairman Indika Nalin Jayawickrama and another person as being involved.

However, the letter states that apart from the salary and allowances owed to him during his tenure as Secretary of the Defence Ministry (from 2005 to January 09, 2015) and as Secretary of Urban Development Ministry, Gotabaya Rajapaksa has not received any sum/profit or movable or immovable property.

“My client does not claim ownership to any undeclared bank account or deposit, in Sri Lanka or any other country, while the deposits made to his only account are the aforementioned wages and allowances,” the letter added.

Apart from that, the only wealth possessed by Gotabaya Rajapaksa is Rs 6 million received after selling his house in 2001, which has been invested in treasury bonds and the interest generated on that, Wijewardane says.

He further says that his client does not even have his own house to live after relinquishing his official post and is therefore living in a rented house.

After lodging the complaint, Sunil Watagala had claimed to media that financial fraud amounting to Rs.130 million had been committed when district secretary Neil De Alwis had directed three cheques to the account of the former defence secretary, under the guise of Deyata Kirula expenses.

“While the statement is complexly untrue, it is also baseless and malicious,” says Rajapaksa’s attorney.

He states that no such sum of money has been credited to a personal account of his client and that Watagala had unlawfully and wrongfully presented completely fabricated  statement to the Bribery Commission.

He says that by wrongfully revealing the inaccurate information to the media, Watagala had directly and indirectly defamed Mr Rajapaksa.

He therefore demands that Sunil Watagala should pay a sum of Rs 1 billion as compensation for causing insult, mental stress and damage caused to Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s credibility and also to immediately retract the “baseless allegations”.

Gotabaya’s attorney further says that if Watagala fails to pay the aforementioned damages/compensation before a period of one week he has been instructed by his client to instigate legal action.

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