With Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Italy being ordered to return to Sri Lanka on or before March 20, comes the news that three domestic aides employed by him have done the vanishing trick.
Three days ago, as many of the staff had expected, Asitha Perera complained that all three doemstic aides had disappeared. However, the Italian intelligence had received information that the aides were taken by one of Asitha’s agent friends to Verona.
The Italian Foreign Ministry has been irked by this and has informed Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Ministry, sources said.
Ambassador Perera broke Italian law with impunity by taking along with him three servants. The Italian Regulations have it that when domestic aides are brought in to Italy, the diplomatic staff is expected to regularize the visa procedure within eight days, so that they could be with the diplomat during his stay. All Ambassadors are permitted to have two domestic aides and no more. As Asitha Perera had taken three servants, contrary to the permitted number, he had, it is believed, not taken any steps to regularise the visa requirements, though the Deputy Chief of Protocol and Chief of Protocol had informed the Senior Diplomatic officer, the Head of Chancery, to request the Ambassador to do so. The Visa of the three domestics had expired on September 5, 2012.
Thereby, the Sri Lankan Embassy and specially the Ambassador have violated the Italian law and if the domestic aides were arrested, it would cause a serious and irreversible dent in the relations between the two countries, as this is deemed to be very serious violation of the law and punishable under Criminal law of Italy.
Asitha Perera, who is known to be very reluctant to talk to the press, had hastily summoned a media briefing and said the real reason for his departure was that he had refused to cooperate with some elements in Italy who were involved in human smuggling. He claimed that some members of the diplomatic staff were involved in the racket, sources said.
His claim may have caused serious embarrassment to the Sri Lankan government and to the Ministry of External Affairs as it impugns the status of the senior most diplomatic officer from the Ministry and would cast aspersions on the entire ministry.
Inquiries revealed that the truth of the matter was that the biggest Sri Lankan association was having biennial cultural festival, where the cultural institute was teaching Sri Lankan culture and dance, specially the Kandyan, Sabaragamuwa and Ruhunu Dancing to Italian Students. The Italians have taken a serious liking to Sri Lankan culture, though it is a country which leads the West in Opera and Ballet. From the inception, the only favour the dancing institute had requested from the Sri Lankan Embassy was to facilitate visa for them to come to Italy. Some of the important artistes, who attend the festival as judges, were those who had achieved eminence in the field of art like Ms Regini Selvanayagm, Upuli Panibharatha and others. Every single artiste who arrived from Sri Lanka had gone back without violating the visa conditions and not overstayed for even a single day. Due to some personal animosity, Asitha Perera had refused to give them the required letter. Then they spoke to the Head of Chancery and after being more than satisfied that all the applicant artistes had travelled to Italy more than five times and returned, the senior diplomatic officer sought the intervention of the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry then informed the Head of Chancery to issue to requisite letter. The President was informed of this peculiar attitude of the Ambassador. The day on which the visas were to be issued, Ambassador Perera had informed the Italian Embassy in Sri Lanka that there was an attempt to bring Sri Lankans to Italy and not to issue visas.
The oral complaint made by Ambassador Perera was referred to the Ministry of Interior and a high ranking police officer was sent to the Embassy to inquire into this allegation. Asitha Perera could not provide any information, thus causing grave embarrassment and irreparable damage to the excellent relationship that has been built over the years by several Ambassadors, sources said.