The former President Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday, that there is a plan by the government to take into custody the former Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa on issue of possible fraud in purchase of four MiG-27 aircraft. Although most of the Rajapaksha family members are accused of becoming millionaires during his regime he does not want any of them to be investigated or arrested for any frauds because they are his family members or supporters.
The main thrust of this government is to imprison him and members of the Rajapaksa family, MPs who are supporting him and senior state officials, he said further. The former President said this while addressing the 20th conference of the Samurdhi Development and Agricultural Research Production Assistant officers held at the Colombo Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium.
He said further that State officials are being imprisoned using the term public property, and the FCID has been established to take revenge from the Rajapaksas and those State officials who are with them.
Gothapaya Rajapaksa returned from the United States last month following a private visit and according to sources he was to be arrested at the airport. However, on the advice of some officials, and possibility of Mahinda taking political advantage of it, the move was dropped, sources added.
Rajapaksa is expected to be arrested in relation to ongoing investigations over the controversial MiG aircraft deal.
On July 26, 2006, the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) on behalf of the government signed an agreement with Ukrinmash (a Ukranian company) for the supply of four MIG 27 aircraft as well as the overhauling of four existing SLAF MiG 27 aircraft. Soon after, the government announced that the MiG 27s met with the specifications required for Ground Attack Fighters. Yet, close scrutiny of the agreement and the statements / events relating to the procurement revealed blatant irregularities and the manipulation of facts to conceal fraud and corruption.
The purchase of four MiG-27 aircraft by the Defence Ministry in 2006 at a cost of US$ 2.462 million each and the procedure followed in relation to their purchase had been clouded in mystery till Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi, two key ministers who broke away from the Rajapaksa government, made a complaint to the Bribery Commission alleging corruption on the part of Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
- Tamils in America had called on US authorities to arrest Sri Lanka’s former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and prosecute him for War Criminal, when he was in America.
2. Former defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa arranged payment of Rs 50 million for the assassination of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP Nadarajah Raviraj alleged a police constable giving evidence in court. The police constable of the intelligence unit Liyanarachchige Abayaratne, giving evidence before Colombo Additional Magistrate told the court that the former defence secretary had known about the murder and arranged a payment to the break of faction of Karuna faction. The police constable added that he had been in communication with the Karuna faction, and was aware of the faction’s meetings with Sri Lanka’s navy to conspire to assassinate the Tamil MP, reports Colombo Page. Mr Raviraj was assassinated in Colombo in November 2006, at a time when the capital was heavily fortified by Sri Lanka’s military. Mahinda government was accused of being behind the attacks by the TNA, diaspora organisations and the UNP.
This is a very bad idea. After all, Gotabaya Rajapaksa is an alleged war criminal who played a pivotal role in the island nation’s slide towards autocracy. Ranga Jayasuriya, a Colombo-based journalist, has written a piece about this issue. Here’s part of that article:
Gota’s balance sheet is a jumble. On the plus side are his pivotal role in the military victory against terrorism, and of course, beautifying Colombo. Those are obviously notable achievements. But, on the minus side, his record is exceedingly dark. There are extra judiciary killings, white van abductions and disappearance of journalists, civil society activists and dissidents — all that took place under his watch as the Secretary of Defence.
Jayasuriya finishes with a strong concluding paragraph:
How he [Gotabaya Rajapaksa] can be a unifier of the SLFP is open to question, but the bigger question is how a President who pledged to redress the victims of the past and hold their abusers accountable for their evil could accommodate Gota without losing face. Also, such an accommodation is tantamount to appeasement. It would embolden his detractors within the Joint Opposition who would seek further concessions to advance their selfish ends. The impact of such a gesture on the on-going investigations into the abuses of power of the former regime would also be disastrous. Perhaps, the President would not be duped.