Lawyers for Democracy hail high profile arrests

The Lawyers for Democracy (LfD) issuing a statement on the arrest of the President’s Chief of Staff I.H.K Mahanama and State Timber Corporation Chairman P. Dissanayake hailed the efforts taken by the Bribery Commission to net the two high profile individuals.

The LfD statement signed by Attorney at Law Lal Wijenayake said such arrests would have been unimaginable during the previous regime. The two individuals were arrested at a car park of a five star hotel in Colombo, while accepting a bribe of Rs, 20 million from an Indian businessman as an advance payment. The transaction relates to a deal in the shares of the Kantale Sugar Factory. According to officials from the Bribery Commission, the suspects had solicited a bribe of Rs. 560 million from the businessman but later reduced it to Rs. 100 million.

“It is vital that the people recognize the courage displayed by officials in the Bribery Commission in the recent past where corruption cases were filed against powerful former officials like Gotabaya Rajapakse and a serving Court of Appeal Judge,” Lfd said in a statement. “Still, rogue elements mobilise supporters to protect the corrupt with the active support of the previous regime.”

“In this moment, when President Sirisena’s chief of staff has been netted by an independent commission during a sting operation, there is only one pertinent question to ask: Given the impunity the former regime showed to crimes by its inner circle, would the arrest of Gamini Senarath, former Chief of Staff to President Mahinda Rajapaksa ever have been possible during his reign?.”

The LfD also hailed the head of the state for his impartiality which he demonstrated by refusing to interfere in the raid or the investigative process. “It is our fervent and sincere hope that this shall be the course of future anti-corruption action in Sri Lanka going forward and other politicians in power will follow the exemplary conduct and precedent set by the President in this instance.”

The President’s office suspended of the two officials who were arrested by the commission. President Sirisena went on to instruct that the law be strictly enforced without any obstruction to the legal process.

“We urge the people of Sri Lanka to take serious note of the urgent need to support institutions that are battling corruption within the system, and investigators in both the Bribery Commission and the Police Department,” the statement said.