‘White van’ case: former SPC chairman, two others granted bail | Daily News


 

‘White van’ case: former SPC chairman, two others granted bail

Former State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC) Chairman Mohommed Rumi Mohommed Azeem and two others, who were arrested over the ‘white van’ press conference, were granted bail yesterday by Colombo Chief Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne.

The suspects were released on two sureties of Rs.500,000 each, and the magistrate imposed travel bans on them. The magistrate also ordered the suspects to hand over their passports to the court.

Former State Pharmaceuticals Corporation chairman Mohommed Rumi Mohommed Azeem was charged with allegedly giving Rs.2 million to two persons, who spoke about alleged ‘white van’ abductions at a press conference prior to the last Presidential Election. Former chairman Azeem was arrested after he surrendered to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) after being wanted over the ‘white van’ press conference staged last month.

Two other persons who were arrested in connection with making certain claims regarding the ‘white van’ case at a media briefing organised by former Minister Rajitha Senaratne were identified as Sakalawalli Arachchige Sarath Kumara and Athula Sanjeewa Madanayake.

President’s Counsel Wasantha Nawarathna Bandara, appearing on behalf of MP Rajitha Senaratne, stated that his client was receiving medical treatment at the Lanka Hospital. PC Bandara also submitted a medical report of MP Senaratne to the magistrate.

When the case was taken up before the magistrate, Deputy Solicitor-General (DSG) Dileepa Peiris, appearing on behalf of the Attorney-General, informed court that they amended the charges filed against the fist two suspects, and that the charges were connected to sections 169, 190, 113, and 102 of the Penal Code and Section 81 of the Presidential Election Act.

The Deputy Solicitor-General further stated that the third suspect, MP Rajitha Senaratne, is staying at the Lanka Hospital and therefore, the CID was unable to get a statement from him.

DSG Dileepa Peiris also stated that the CID has recorded statements from the first two suspects. The suspects have stated that their wives had received threats from unknown people.

Peiris also stated that former SPC Chairman Rumi Mohommed had given pocket money to the first two suspects to participate in the ‘white van’ press conference.

The magistrate asked from the CID as to how the former State Pharmaceuticals Corporation chairman was arrested. He stated that police cannot arrest him without a warrant.

Deputy Solicitor-General Dileepa Peiris told court that he was not the person who arrested them. The CID did not give any answer to the magistrate’s question. The DSG stated that instant bail for the suspects by the court is an obstacle for the investigations. Peiris further told court that the CID is conducting investigations into how a former SPC chairman had gone to the extent of forking out cash to the first and second suspects in the case.

The Attorney-at-Law appearing on behalf of the first two suspects said they wanted to make a statement before the magistrate under Section 127 of the Penal Code. The Deputy Solicitor-General raised objections regarding the bail applications made by the defence counsels. Peiris stated that Government Analyst’s Department had given dates to obtain voice samples from the two suspects, to test whether those statements tally with the video clips.

Delivering the bail order, the magistrate observed that the charges filed against the three suspects were bailable offences.

The magistrate instructed the defence counsel to produce former Minister Rajitha Senaratne before court on the next calling date and also ordered the first two suspects to appear before the CID on January 8 and go to the Government Analyst’s Department with CID officials.

The magistrate fixed further inquiries for February 27.


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