By Asiri Fernando
The Fort Magistrate yesterday issued a travel ban on former Minister of Industry and Commerce and All Ceylon Makkal Congress Party Leader Rishad Bathiudeen, following a request made by the Criminal Investigation Division (CID).
According to Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana, the Police have deployed six teams to track down Rishad Bathiudeen and had visited three properties belonging to the former Minister in Colombo and Mannar but had failed to locate him as of last evening.
The Police also arrested an accountant, Alagarathnam Manoranjan, at a residence in Kirulapone yesterday, on related charges. Manoranjan was remanded till 26 October by the Colombo Fort Magistrate.
A Police constable who was assigned to the former Minister’s protection detail was also arrested in Wellawatta for aiding and abetting a suspect to escape. The Police have also taken into custody two drivers along with two vehicles suspected to have been used by the former Minister and found two pistols and ammunition in their possession. “We are currently investigating if the firearms are licenced, and if so, who they were issued to and if they are illegal weapons,” DIG Ajith Rohana said. The two drivers, aged 55 and 45, are residents of Puttalam.
The travel ban came in the wake of the CID yesterday deploying a force of 60 detectives under the leadership of two Senior Superintendents of Police (SSP) and an Assistant Superintendent (ASP) to investigate alleged links between Rishad Bathiudeen’s brother, Riyaj Bathiudeen, and the Easter Sunday Bombers. Riyaj Bathiudeen was released by the CID last month after concluding investigations, which caused controversy.
The travel ban come as multiple Police teams failed to find and arrest the former Minister, following a directive by Attorney General (AG) Dappula de Livera. The CID earlier this week sought a warrant from the Colombo Fort Magistrate to arrest Rishad Bathiudeen. However, they turned down the request, pointing out that the Police can arrest the suspect without a warrant. The former Minister and two others – Mohamed Yaseen Samsudeen and Alagarathnam Manoranjan – are accused of violating Article 82(1) of Presidential Elections Act No.15 of 1981 by misappropriating public funds. Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said that the AG had directed the Police to arrest three suspects, including Rishad Bathiudeen, following a CID investigation into the matter.
“We have concluded the investigations on former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and the related suspects and will be effecting arrests soon,” DIG Rohana stressed, adding that the Police have launched an internal inquiry into how Riyaj Bathiudeen was released.
“The two teams are investigating on seven points identified by the Attorney General. The investigations will look at linkages to the Easter Sunday Bombers, communications which had taken place, alleged funding of terrorism, and crimes that fall under the money laundering laws. The Acting Inspector General has briefed the CID teams to conduct a thorough investigation,” DIG Ajith Rohana said, commenting on the renewed investigation on Riyaj Bathiudeen.
DIG Rohana pointed out that following the meeting with the AG on the issue, the CID has deployed skilled investigators, including ones who have a proven track record in investigating financial fraud and money-laundering-related crimes.
Both Rishad Bathiudeen and his brother Riyaj have maintained that Riyaj was innocent of the alleged allegation of links to the Easter Sunday Bombers. Riyaj Bathiudeen, this week, wrote to the President on the matter. Former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen has charged that the allegations made against his brother are politically motivated.