Former Sri Lankan minister Basil Rajapaksa indicted on charges of misappropriating funds

Former Sri Lankan minister Basil Rajapaksa indicted on charges of misappropriating funds

The Colombo High Court fixed the next hearing on August 30. In photo: An aerial view of Colombo, Sri Lanka, circa 1992. (Others)

New Delhi, India | Jul 15, 2016, 11.30 PM (IST)

The Sri Lankan Attorney General today indicted former Sri Lankan minister Basil Rajapaksa, brother of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, and three others on charges of misappropriating Rs 33 million ($226264) belonging to the Divi Neguma Development Department during last year’s  presidential election, Sri Lanka's Daily Mirror reported.

Other members of Mahinda Rakapaksa's family are also facing police investigations for alleged financial crimes. They include Rajapaksa's brother, Gotabaya, and his wife, Shiranthi.

The Rajapaksas claim that the investigations are a political witch-hunt against them and their sympathisers believe these allegations were brought to tarnish his name after he led Sri Lankan forces to victory over the LTTE rebels in 2009, ending a three-decade civil war.

The Colombo High Court fixed the next hearing on August 30.

Meanwhile, the financial crimes division (FCID) of the Lankan police today also sought order from the court for assistance from Interpol to arrest Udayanga Weeratunga, former Sri Lankan ambassador to Russia and a cousin of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, on corruption charges. The Colombo magistrate, however, deferred issuing the order till Monday.

Weeratunga, a Ukranian resident faced corruption charges during the purchase of fighter aircraft for the Lankan army, after his cousin Rajapaksa was defeated in presidential elections in January last year.

The FCID wanted him in the country for questioning.

Weeratunga has denied all charges levelled against him in a press statement issued recently.

President Maithripala Sirisena, who came to power on a pledge to eradicate corruption, is under pressure to act on the allegations against Rajapaksa and those who served in his administration.

(WION and agencies)
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