The President’s former Chief of Staff, I. H. K.Mahanama and former State Timber Corporation (STC) Chairman P. Dissanayake, were granted bail by Colombo Chief Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake yesterday.

They were in remand custody on bribery charges, for over four months. They were released on Rs.100,000 cash bail and three sureties of Rs.2 million each.

The Magistrate stated that one of the sureties should be a close relative of the suspect.The Magistrate yesterday chided Bribery Commission officers for issuing a single certificate including the charges for both suspects. He said the two suspects had separate charges and therefore both should be issued with two separate certificates. Hence the certificate had no legitimacy, he said. He said Court will grant bail to the two suspects due to the defect in the certificate.

Investigations initiated with the complaint that Mahanama had demanded a bribe of Rs.540 million from an Indian investor who was ready to acquire a section of the Kantale Sugar Factory. Mahanama had been attending to this matter of settling the transaction sometime ago, while he was the Land Ministry Secretary. However, the Indian investor had refused to pay the sum stating that it was too high and demanded it be reduced.

Within several weeks, they had allegedly agreed to accept Rs.100 million.The two were arrested at a hotel car park in Colombo, on May 3, by Bribery Commission officers while accepting a bribe of Rs. 20 million.

Magistrate fixed inquiry for December 11.

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