By Chathuri Dissanayake
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa can be taken to courts on two accounts connected to his comments on the recent court determination of the misappropriation of Rs. 600 millions to donate ‘sil redi’ during the Presidential Elections, Cabinet Co-spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne said.
Offering examples from cases where former presidents have been found guilty of misappropriating public funds and assets, Senaratne said that there was room to re-file the case to make Rajapaksa accountable for the directive he has given.
Senaratne said that Rajapaksa could be taken to courts on two accounts, one as he has in public admitted to giving the order to utilise the funds, while other comments made by him amount to contempt of court.
“A person can file a case on those accounts. But Rajapaksa did not own up to giving the order until the case was heard and the determination given; this shows his heroism clearly. He could have come forward during the 82 times this case was taken up in court, but he chose to wait till the punishment was given,” he said. However, Senaratne insisted that the former President’s Secretary Lalith Weeratunga was fully aware of the Government regulations and election law.
“He sent a letter to all ministry secretaries advising them to adhere to these laws then he breaks them. He was fully aware of what he did,” Senaratne said.
The minister refused to buy into the narrative put forward by a faction of the Buddhist clergy arguing that the duo convicted of fraud were innocent as they were acting with the intention of promoting Buddhism.
“The monks should have gone on a ‘pidusinga wadina’ campaign when a young boy was arrested for just stealing eight coconuts. He did so to survive because he was poor and in desperate circumstances. They should not be protecting those who stole public funds. Look at the backgrounds of all those monks, that should give an indication of their interests,” Senaratne said, being critical of the movement launched by a group of Buddhist monks to crowd fund the fines imposed on the convicted parties.