Lalith Weeratunga refused permission to go abroad | Daily News

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Lalith Weeratunga refused permission to go abroad

The Colombo High Court yesterday rejected a request made by former Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunge that he be allowed to go abroad.

Weeratunga who was convicted of misappropriating Rs. 600 million of funds belonging to the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) had sought the Colombo High Court’s permission to travel to Doha, Qatar and Australia in the months of March and April.

While rejecting the application, High Court Judge Gihan Kulatunga observed there is no legal basis to consider this application since a person convicted of an offence has no the right to be presumed innocent.

However, surprisingly the Attorney General did not raise objections to the request made by the defence.

Senior State Counsel Yuvan Abeywickrema appearing for the Attorney General informed Court that he has received instructions not to object to the request if the accused returned his passport after concluding his visit.

Meanwhile, the High Court Judge observed that the accused’s request cannot be considered as an urgent requirement since his request was not based on a medical requirement.

‘The accused highlighted his medical requirements when he was requesting for bail following the conviction. Now it is different. His present requirement cannot be considered as an urgent matter. There is no legal basis to consider this application’, the High Court Judge added.

On September 7 last year, Lalith Weeratunga and Anusha Palpita were found guilty of misappropriating Rs.600 million of funds belonging to TRC in connection with the controversial Sil Redi (Fabrics used by devotees to observe Sil) distribution case.

They were sentenced to three-year-rigorous imprisonment by the Colombo High Court.

They had filed appeal petitions in the Court of Appeal challenging the judgment of the Colombo High Court. They are currently out on bail.

While handing out a lengthy judgment, High Court Judge Gihan Kulatunga had maintained that the prosecutors have proven the accused’s guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The High Court Judge further maintained that the accused had committed this offence dishonestly with the intention of gaining undue advantage to a particular candidate during the 2015-Presidential Election.

While observing a political motivation had led the accused to commit this offence, Lalith Weeratunge and Anusha Palpita were ordered to pay a compensation of Rs.50 million each to the TRC in lieu of losses incurred contrary to the Telecommunication Act.

Each accused were further ordered to pay a fine of two million rupees and in default of the payment of fine they will have to serve additional one year imprisonment.

The Attorney General had filed indictments against former Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunge and former Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) Director General Anusha Palpita under three counts, in connection with a criminal misappropriation of Rs.600 million belonging to the TRC funds during the 2015-Presidential Election campaign. They were found guilty of all charges.

Counsel Janaka Ranatunga with Niroshan Siriwardena appeared for Lalith Weeratunga. Senior State Counsel Yuvan Abeywicrema appeared for the Attorney General. 


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