Udayanga further remanded | Daily News


 

Udayanga further remanded

Former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga, who was arrested over the alleged MiG Aircraft deal, was yesterday ordered to be further remanded till February 26 by Colombo Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake.

The suspect was arrested at the Bandaranaike International Airport on last Friday (14) when he arrived in Sri Lanka following his extradition from the United Arab Emirates where he was living. The prosecution alleged that Udayanga Weeratunga had directly intervened into the questionable transaction in procuring MiG-27 ground attack aircraft.

The value of the deal was estimated at US$14 million. This is in connection with the financial fraud that is alleged to have taken place in procuring seven MiG-27 ground attack aircrafts for the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF).

When the magisterial inquiry into this matter was taken up yesterday, the Magistrate stated that he is required to clarify facts relating to the investigation. The Magistrate observed that Chief Inspector Nihal Francis had conducted the investigations regarding this case since March 6, 2015.

The Magistrate also observed that the original investigation officer has has been transferred to another division since January 21, 2020.

“What has happened to this investigation officer Nihal Francis?,” the Magistrate inquired. In reply, Criminal Investigations Department stated that the Financial Crimes Investigation Department has been disbanded and the Chief Inspector Nihal Fracis has been transferred to Negombo Division.

CID also stated that Inspector of Police Sanjeewa is currently conducting further investigations regarding this matter.

Magistrate: Is it possible to continue further investigations through a junior officer without the assistance of Chief Inspector Nihal Francis? These facts can be considered when granting bail for the suspect. Don’t you think that it is good to take assistance from the previous investigation officers to carry out the further investigations?

CID: The previous investigation officer had conducted the entire investigation on his own discretion. He has not taken any investigation officer to carry out the investigations. The IP Francis had conducted this investigation under the supervision of SSP Pavithra Dayarathna.

The Magistrate stated that the Director of the CID had earlier informed the court that they required more than 10 days to record statements from the suspect. The Magistrate also stated that a Magistrate can remove the investigations officers from the investigations but he cannot allocate new investigation officer to conduct the investigation.

Deputy Solicitor General Thusith Mudalige pointed out that they are willing to take assistance from the previous investigation officers Nihal Francis and SSP Pavithra Dayarathne to conduct further investigations. The DSG also pleaded to issue an order directing the Acting IGP to appoint those previous investigations officers to conduct further investigations into this case.

Magistrate: Under what charges the suspect is being produced before court? The director of the CID has earlier informed the court that he is yet to decide about the charges?

Deputy Solicitor General Thusith Mudalige:

“According to the ‘B’ report filed on October, 11, 2016, the charges have been filed against the suspect under Money Laundering Act, Penal Code and Public Property Act”,.

The Magistrate further observed that the government had caused US$ 7 million from the MiG deal transaction. According to the B-reports, US$ 7 million had been paid to a Ukrainian Company.

“If the government occurs a loss more that Rs.25,000, the police should submit a certificate in accordance with the section 08 of the public property Act. The Certificate should contain the signature of a higher police rank than that of the Assistant Superintend of Police”, the Magistrate further observed. The Magistrate inquired form the CID whether they have any special reason not to filed a certificate? Replying to that, the CID stated that they need sufficient time to study the whole case record.

The Magistrate ordered the Acting IGP to inform the Magistrate if the police can appoint those two previous investigation officers following section 125 of the Criminal Procedure.

If not, the Magistrate also ordered the Acting IGP to submit reasons for the disagreement. The Magistrate also observed that it is necessary to take assistance from them to conduct further investigation into this MiG deal.

President’s Counsel Anil Silva who appeared on behalf of Udayanga Weeratunga stated that his client had gone to Russia in 1985 and he had done so many jobs. Udayanga Weeratunga had a restaurant and a tea factory in Russia. He had transferred some amount of money to his relatives’ bank accounts. Anil Silva PC also stated that his client earned money by hard working. All bank accounts belonging to him have been suspended following this incident. Defence Counsel pleaded his client be granted bail.

After taken the facts into consideration, the Magistrate stated that Attorney General’s Department and the Criminal Investigations Department were having two different opinions about the case.

The Magistrate fixed further inquiries for February 26.

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Udayanga Weeratunga to be produced before Court (09:35)

The Colombo Fort Magistrate ordered the Former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga be produced in the Court today in connection with the alleged MiG Aircraft deal.

Udayanga Weeratunga who returned to Sri Lanka on Friday morning was taken into custody by the Criminal Investigations Department at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA).

When the case was taken up before Colombo Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake he was ordered to be remanded till today.


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