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 March 18 by Colombo Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake.

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 aircraft for the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF).

When the matter was taken up before court, the Magistrate noted that the Acting Inspector General of Police has responded to a query from him as to why the two police officers SP Pavithra Dayaratne and Chief Inspector Nihal Francis, who had investigated the case for the past five years, were removed from the case.

The Acting IGP noted that there is a possibility to appoint those two Police officers when a questionable situation arises with regard to the investigation.

State Counsel Udara Karunathilake, who appeared for the Attorney General (AG), said CID obtained statements from the suspect.

The Magistrate inquired from the State Counsel whether they required a warrant for the arrest of Nelum Mannamperuma, brother-in-law of Weeratunga. The Magistrate stated that the prosecution had earlier requested to issue a warrant for the arrest of Nelum Mannamperuma who has been also identified as a suspect in the case, in addition to four others.

The Magistrate also stated that he will issue a warrant after calling for evidence against Nelum Mannamperuma. Replying to that, State Counsel Udara Karunathilake stated that the suspect was out of the country. SC Udara Karunathilake further told court that he will produce the relevant documents pertaining to the request made by them on the next calling date.

Attorney-at-Law Asitha Siriwardena appearing for the suspect informed the court that there were several discrepancies in the previous reports filed in the case. Counsel Siriwardena further stated that the suspect Weeratunga was never involved in any cheating in the purchase of the MIG 27 agreement as he was not in the country when the alleged agreement was said to have been signed in his presence.

Counsel Siriwardena also pointed out that the former Air Force Commander in 2006, had visited Ukraine and obtained the ‘factory acceptance certificate’ over three aircraft. Hence, the Defence Counsel had earlier requested court to direct the CID to investigate those facts.

The Magistrate observed that the prosecution submitted a reply for the above question raised by the Defense Counsel on the previous occasion.

The Magistrate raised several questions from the prosecution.

Magistrate: Whether they have obtained a statement from the former Air Force Commander.

CID: No answer

Senior State Counsel: I was not in a position to provide answers for it.

The Magistrate stated that the present investigative officers were not aware of the above facts. The Magistrate has decided to take clarifications from the previous investigation officer Nihal Francis regarding the facts submitted by the defense.

Counsel Asitha Siriwardena submitted a written bail application on behalf of the suspect. The Counsel also alleged that Nihal Francis had hidden certain sections of the investigation report from the Attorney General’s Department.

The Counsel also pleaded to release all the reports and other relevant documents submitted by the prosecution to them. While raising objections for the request, State Counsel Udara Karunathilake pointed out that there are several confidential documents in it.

State Counsel Udara Karunathilake pointed out that he is not in a position to provide answers for the questions about the facts. The Magistrate fixed further inquries for March 18.

 


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