A day after they were sentenced, former Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and former Telecom Regulatory Commission Chairman Anusha Pelpita were admitted to the Prison Hospital.
High Court on Thursday jailed and fined Weeratunga and Pelpita, when delivering the verdict of the ‘sil redi’ case.
Both former officials were sentenced to three years of rigorous imprisonment by the Colombo High Court, and ordered to pay Rs. 2 million each as a fine and Rs. 50 million each as compensation. They were accused of misappropriating Rs. 620 million in public funds to distribute ‘sil redi,’ a cloth used by Buddhist devotees in religious observances, to voters during the 2015 presidential elections.
The two top officials in former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Government are the first convictions in a series of investigations into official corruption.
The Government of President Maithripala Sirisena unseated Rajapaksa in 2015 on the promise of exposing corruption and is under pressure to follow through.
Sirisena’s administration has been probing money laundering and misappropriation of state property in more than 50 cases, but no one had been convicted until Thursday, Reuters reported.
Election monitors had complained that the State fund was used to influence voters ahead of 2015 presidential polls. Kalinga Indratissa, the lawyer who appeared on behalf of Weeratunga and Palpita, told Reuters the two would appeal.