Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday filed a Fundamental Rights (FR) application challenging the legality of the establishment of a Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID).
Through this application, Rajapaksa has also sought the intervention of the Supreme Court to prevent his imminent arrest and the conclusion of the several purported investigations by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), the Commission to Investigate Bribery and Corruptions and the Frauds and Corruption Investigations Division (FCID).
The respondents in the petition include the Cabinet of Ministers, Secretary to the President, Inspector General of Police, Deputy Inspect General of Police (Frauds and Corruption Investigative Division), Director of the CID and the Attorney General.
The FR action came in the wake of Rajapaksa appearing at the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption yesterday after he was summoned by the commission to provide a statement over various allegations levelled against him. Rajapaksa appeared at the Bribery Commission along with his lawyers after he was issued summons.
Meanwhile, human rights lawyer Lakshan Dias, speaking to Daily FT about the situation, said that he was happy that today even people like Gotabaya Rajapaksa could find shelter in the legal system.
“During the previous regime the legal system was not functioning properly. But unlike then, today even people like Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was the respondent of more than thousand court cases during the past 10 years, can seek shelter and protection under the legal system of the country as the legal system of the country has arrived at a better state today. And for a person like Gotabaya Rajapaksa to go to courts seeking justice is a positive sign for people who are fighting and representing fundamental rights in our country and it shows that the law is equal to all whether those people are in power or deprived of power,” Dias said.
Commenting further, he explained that any citizen had the right to seek shelter through the judicial system if that person felt as if the executive or the administrative system of the country was either wronging them or treating them unequally. He also stated that he was extremely happy that Rajapaksa had positive feelings towards fundamental rights.
Attorney-at-law Sagara Kariyawasam told Daily FT that today the police were forced to listen to the instructions of the FCID subcommittee instead of listening to the advice of the Attorney General and that arrest warrants were issued by the FCID in a political manner.
“The FCID is an institution which is contrary to the country’s judicial system which is led by the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. Rajapaksa filed an FR not to prevent himself from getting arrested but to highlight the foul process and management of the FCID because if the FCID continues to act in this manner it will jeopardise the country’s economy, as a result of the FCID frightening people who work for the development of the nation and preventing them from taking decisions towards developing the country’s economy,” Kariyawasam said.
Last week the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) made a complaint to the Bribery Commission against Rajapaksa and said that he was involved in a case of financial misappropriation amounting to about Rs. 130 million with regard to the 2013 Deyata Kirula Exhibition. However, after this complaint was made, Rajapaksa vowed that he would take legal action against the JVP.
Meanwhile, the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) had also informed the former Defence Secretary to report to the FCID on 20 May. Rajapaksa has been asked to visit the FCID for questioning regarding the controversial MiG deal and a share issuance by Lanka Hospitals.
Sajin Vass Gunawardana MP Arrested and Remanded
Former Foreign Ministry Monitoring MP Sajin Vass Gunawardana was arrested and remanded until 20 May for abusing state vehicles.
He was remanded by the Colombo Chief Magistrate after being produced by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) following extensive questioning earlier in the day.
The charges against him included the misuse of vehicles belonging to the Presidential Secretariat. A court case filed by the Bribery Commission against Gunawardena is already underway.
The police said that the Opposition Parliamentarian was arrested after he was questioned by the CID yesterday over the allegations levelled against him. He was summoned to the CID to give a statement last morning.
Following the defeat of former President Rajapaksa at the 2015 presidential election, Gunawardena was faced with several inquires. In February the CID also questioned Gunawardena in connection with the corruption charges levelled against him by members of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP).
A few weeks after the presidential election, 53 vehicles belonging to the Presidential Secretariat were found by the police abandoned at a yard in Colombo. Recently the police also announced that they did not know the whereabouts of over 120 vehicles belonging to the Presidential Secretariat Office.