Field Marshal and Justice Minister lock horns again … trade damning allegations on TV
Posted on January 11th, 2016

By Shamindra Ferdinando Courtesy The Island

Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka has urged President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickrem-esinghe to take punitive action against Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, whom the war veteran accuses of still serving the interests of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

Appearing on live Sirasa political programme ‘Satana’, Democratic Party leader alleged that the Justice Minister had been working for the Rajapaksas in spite of switching his allegiance to the UNP years back. Claiming that the Justice Minister had been engaged in a lucrative controversial enterprise and exploited his position to pursue business interests,FM Fonseka strongly condemned the Justice Minister for alleging that Maharaja Organization had sought to take over the operations previously carried out by the Avant Garde Maritime Services (AGMS). Instead of being grateful to Sirasa for facilitating Maithripala Sirisena’s victory at the presidential poll last January, Minister Rajapakse was seeking to score political points at the expense of the media, the former Democratic National Alliance (DNA) MP said.

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Fonseka levelled a spate of allegations including one pertaining to the Justice Minister making an attempt to deceive the public regarding campaign funds received by the former Army Chief during the 2010 presidential polls.

Justice Minister Rajapakse joined ‘Satana’ over the phone towards the end of the programme to castigate the former Chief of Defence Staff. Rajapakse alleged that Fonseka had been angry with him for not facilitating the release of funds amounting to Rs. 88.8 mn seized from a bank vault belonging to the mother of Fonseka’s former son-in-law, Dhanuna Tillekeratne. The Justice Minister alleged that the money had been accumulated through illegal means during Fonseka’s tenure as the Army Chief. Rajapakse said that such funds couldn’t be released to appease Fonseka.

Justice Minister reiterated that his refusal to comply with Fonseka’s demand to arrest former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, too, had contributed to the situation. Responding to allegations pertaining to his involvement in private enterprise, Rajapakse said members of parliament as well as ministers were not barred from acquiring shares of private enterprises.

The Justice Minister expressed disappointment that the media had given Fonseka an opportunity to make unsubstantiated allegations.

At the onset of the programme, Fonseka alleged that Rajapakse had been a close associate of AGMS proprietor retired Maj. Nissanka Senadhipathi, whom the DP leader described as one of those who had immensely benefited from the Rajapaksas over the years. Fonseka alleged that Rajapakse had maintained his relationship with Senadhipathi even leaving the UPFA/SLFP at an early stage of Rajapaksa’s first term.

The Sinha Regiment veteran said that the funds recovered from the vault belonging to Danuna’s mother was part of the funds received from well-wishers in support of his presidential candidature in 2010. The minister had deprived him of an opportunity to recover the money.

Fonseka claimed that the Justice Minister had influenced the Attorney General’s Department in a bid to save the Rajapaksas. The Justice Minister had asserted that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa couldn’t be arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) whereas he in spite of being the former Commander of the war winning Army had been subjected to the same law, Fonseka said.

The DP leader and Justice Minister had traded accusations regarding funds belonging to Danuna Tillekeratne held by the state. Fonseka placed the amount in question at Rs. 8 mn whereas Rajapakse placed the sum at Rs. 16 mn.

Fonseka alleged that Rajapakse had been continuously working against him and his party. The retired army commander alleged that the Justice Minister also worked against their efforts to regain rebel MP Jayantha Ketagoda’s seat.

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