Allegedly Misappropriating Rs.650 million of state funds:
Admission to have given the order:
19th Amendment to Constitution removed Executive’s immunity:
Co-Cabinet Spokesperson,Dr.Rajitha Senaratne said former President Mahinda Rajapaksa can be taken to courts over his admission to having given the order to distribute ‘Sil Cloth’ during the previous Presidential elections.
The former President and current Kurunegala MP who visited his former Secretary, Lalith Weeratunga and Anusha Palpita in Welikada Prison, said the two were sentenced for having followed his orders.
Weeratunga and the former Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), Director General Palpita were found guilty of misappropriating Rs.650 million of state funds during Rajapaksa’s re-election campaign.
Minister Senaratne however pointed out that Rajapaksa’s statement came in a little too late.
“He should have made the statement earlier when the case was heard for 24 days, not after visiting Welikada”, he said addressing the weekly Cabinet media briefing yesterday.
But this statement comes at a time when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution removed the Executive’s immunity under the law and all former and incumbent Presidents are liable for prosecution in a court of law.
“He can even face contempt of court charges for questioning the verdict”, Senaratne said.
The Minister pointed out that on September 11, 2014, during the Uva elections, the Elections Commissioner had warned the government over distributing various goods to the people, and a special note was made on the distribution of ‘Sil cloth’ on that occasion too.
Furthermore, the Elections Commissioner had asked that Buddhism not be used to gain cheap political mileage. He had also warned the UPFA that if any candidate was caught distributing goods using state assets during election time, they could be disqualified even if they were to win.
“On November 22, 2014, the Elections Commissioner sent a letter to Weeratunga stating that public officials who do not have political rights should refrain from participating in any activity to promote a political party”, the Co-Cabinet Spokesperson said.
“Lalith Weeratunga was asked to keep an eye on all of them but then he got involved too”, he added.
To the Buddhist monks organizing a campaign to collect money for Weeratunga’s and Palpita’s fine, Minister Senaratne said the true philosophy of Buddhism would be reflected if they collected funds to help the poor and vulnerable.