Appeals against conviction fixed for argument | Daily News
Sil redi case:

Appeals against conviction fixed for argument

Lalith Weeratunga and Anusha Palpita
Lalith Weeratunga and Anusha Palpita

Two appeal petitions filed by former Secretary to the President, Lalith Weeratunga and former Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) Director General Anusha Palpita challenging the judgement of the Colombo High Court were yesterday fixed for argument.

Lalith Weeratunga and Anusha Palpita were sentenced to three years’ rigorous imprisonment by the Colombo High Court for misappropriating Rs. 600 million of funds belonging to TRC.

When the two appeal petitions came up before Court Appeal Justice Deepali Wijesundera and Justice Achala Wengappuli, the matters were fixed for argument on October 11.

On September 7, 2017, Weeratunga and Palpita were found guilty of misappropriating Rs. 600 million of funds belonging to the TRC over the controversial sil redi (fabrics used by devotees to observe sil) distribution case.

Through their appeal applications, the two accused-appellants stated that they were seeking the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal to review and set aside their conviction imposed by the High Court dated September 7, 2017.

In their petitions, the accused-appellants stated that neither was Rs. 600 million nor a part of it utilised by them for their personal gain. They further stated that the High Court judge had given them a short period of time (13 days) to pay off the compensations.

While handing out a lengthy judgement, High Court Judge Gihan Kulatunga had maintained that the prosecutors have proven the accuseds’ guilt beyond 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 that political motivation had led the accused to commit this offence, Weeratunga and Palpita were ordered to pay compensation of Rs.50 million each to the TRC in lieu of losses incurred, contrary to the Telecommunication Act.

Each accused was further ordered to pay a fine of Rs. 2 million and in default of the payment of fine, they would have to serve an additional one year of 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.

President’s Counsel Faiz Musthapha with Counsel Kanchana Ratwatte appeared for the appellant-accused. Deputy Solicitor General Thusith Mudalige with Senior State Counsel Jayalakshi Silva appeared for the Attorney General.


 

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