By Asiri Fernando
The Colombo Fort Magistrate yesterday remanded former Minister of Industry and Commerce and All Ceylon Makkal Congress Party (ACMC) Leader Rishad Bathiudeen, until 27 October, following his arrest by the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) at a residence at Ebenezer Place in Dehiwala.
The CID also arrested seven persons for aiding and abetting a wanted person, including a doctor and the owner of the Dehiwala house where the parliamentarian was arrested at. The seven suspects will be produced before Fort Magistrate, Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohan said at a press conference yesterday. The police had arrested four suspects in relation to the investigation last week.
Bathiudeen’s arrest comes in the wake of his lawyers filing a writ application seeking a court order to prevent the former minister from being arrested.
“There may be more arrests in the coming days” DIG Rohana said.
Police last week deployed six teams to track down Bathiudeen following directives given by Attorney General (AG) Dappula de Livera, and obtained a travel ban on the suspect from the Fort Magistrate. 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, in relation to an incident during the 2019 presidential elections, where Bathiudeen had allegedly facilitated transportation for a group of displaced persons to be transported to a polling booth.
The three suspects had allegedly misused 222 buses belonging to the state-owned Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB), transporting persons from Puttalam to polling booths in Silavathurai, Mannar. According to DIG Rohana, the CID has reopened investigations into alleged links between Bathiudeen’s brother, Riyaj, and the Easter Sunday Bombers.
Riyaj Bathiudeen was released by the CID last month after concluding investigations, which caused controversy. The AG had criticised the manner the CID had conducted the investigation into Riyaj Bathiudeen, and had directed the division to reopen the investigation, citing discrepancies in the previous investigation.
Responding to the AG’s directive, the CID launched two teams, comprised of 60 detectives, under the supervision of two Senior Superintendents of Police (SSP) and an Assistant Superintendent (ASP), to investigate alleged links between Riyaj Bathiudeen and the Easter Sunday Bombers.
Riyaj Bathiudeen last week wrote to the President regarding the charges levelled against him. Both Rishad Bathiudeen and his brother have maintained that Riyaj was innocent of the allegation of links to the Easter Sunday Bombers, and that the charges are politically motivated. The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), which Rishad Bathiudeen is a member of, charged that the Government has launched a political witch-hunt and is using the charges against the former minister and his brother to influence opposition MP’s to vote for the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution.