Swiss Embassy in bid to ‘White Van’ Sri Lanka?
Posted on December 11th, 2019

Malinda Seneviratne

‘Safe as houses,’ eh? 

No. No way. An embassy would never try that kind of lark now, would it? It’s incredulous. Unthinkable. Out of the questions. 
Well, such sentiments are not out of order, really. Nations and embassies do indulge in all kinds of nefarious activities. They are careful about it. Even the most powerful nations don’t want to take the risk of looking like global idiots. The Swiss Embassy in Colombo, one must assume, is not an exception. And yet, the saga of the Sri Lankan employee allegedly abducted, questioned and sexually harassed, does make one wonder.

Let’s consider the sequence of events.
At 9.44 pm on November 26, 2019, a website with a sordid back story ‘reveals’ that a female Sri Lankan employee of the Swiss Embassy had been abducted in a white van on the previous day and that the Swiss Ambassador was to meet Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on the following day regarding this incident. 

The Embassy did not lodge any complaint regarding this abduction until the Ambassador met with the Prime Minister. This is strange considering the seriousness of the matter. Nevertheless, a Swiss website, quoting the Sri Lankan website reported the incident. 

Upon being informed by the Ambassador, the Prime Minister moved to deploy a team led by Acting IGP, Chandana Wickamaratne  and the Director, CID, Senior SP W. Thilakaratne. The Swiss Embassy, strangely, refused to provide any information to these officers. However, after investigations were thus launched, the Swiss did lodge an official complaint with the Police, under the signature of the Ambassador, no less.  Rather late in the day so to speak, of course.

And yet, the Swiss were cagey about the identity of the ‘victim’. According to the complaint, she had left the Embassy around 4.15 in a Uber cab, stating that she had to attend a parents’ meeting at St Bridget’s Convent, the school her two daughters attended. The Embassy also stated in the complaint that she had been abducted near the school by persons in a white van and that she was harassed and sexually assaulted. Her personal mobile phone had apparently been confiscated and examined, the complaint also claimed. She had also been questioned about her relationship with Inspector of Police, Nishantha Silva, a man who recently fled the country, apparently to evade investigation and possible arrest. 
The investigators, whose work was deliberately blocked by the Embassy, turned their attention to CCTV footage in and around both the Embassy and the school. There was absolutely no evidence of any abduction of the kind alleged. However, they found out, from school records, the name of the alleged victim: Ganiya Banister Francis is her name and she had been resident in an apartment complex in Maligakanda. 

On the said day, the lady had not, contrary to the claims of the Embassy, attended any parents’ meeting on November 25. One teacher had called the parents of eight students, but this group did not include the ‘victim’s’ daughters. 
Perusal of phone call records and information from the can service revealed that she had in fact left the Embassy in an Uber vehicle, red in color. Accordingly, the investigators were able to obtain information of the lady’s movements that day. She had not gone to St Bridget’s Convent. Instead she had gone to the house of a teacher in Bambalapitiya. After about an hour and a half she had proceeded to Maligakanda in the same vehicle. There’s CCTV footage of a woman matching the description given by the Uber driver getting into a three wheeler, but it was not possible to identify the number of the vehicle. 

When the CID visited the apartment complex, her mother had simply said that her daughter had collected her clothes and gone abroad. Indeed, on December 1, Secretaries of the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, along with other officials, visited the Embassy and appraised the Ambassador about these findings and obvious discrepancies. They requested access to the victim in order to obtain a statement˘. The Embassy has stubbornly insisted that her health condition is deteriorating and that a Swiss doctor has ascertained the same via a video conversation. They refused. The Embassy has requested that permission be given to airlift her to Switzerland along with her family.  Interestingly the lady’s husband, a bank employee has gone missing. There is no word on their daughters. In any event, this is not legally possible. A court order has now temporarily stopped her from leaving Sri Lanka. Summons have been issued at all possible addresses of her husband, including the bank that employs him to appear in court.
It makes sense. There’s a wild accusation against Sri Lanka. The Swiss are blocking investigation. Their story is full of holes. There’s every reason to suspect that the Swiss either fell hook, line and sinker to a tall tale concocted by a Sri Lankan employee or else is party to a sordid conspiracy poorly executed, aimed at tarnishing Sri Lanka’s name and of course that of the newly elected president. White vans, one observes, have amounted to a tired and highly exaggerated story used for political purposes by the previous regime and conveniently picked and further inflated by certain sections of the so-called international community intent on punishing Sri Lanka for essentially subverting an outcome preference related to the denouement of the war against terrorism. 
In other words, to use the trope, the Swiss Embassy, knowingly or unknowingly now finds itself mired in an effort to ‘white van’ Sri Lanka.  

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This article was first published in ‘The Sunday Morning’ [December 8, 2019]

3 Responses to “Swiss Embassy in bid to ‘White Van’ Sri Lanka?”

  1. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    MALINDA !! IS THIS THE SWISS EMBASSY PREMISES ?

  2. Nihal Perera Says:

    Once the investigation is concluded and if the whole saga is a hoax, the GOSL should officially filed a very strong complaint against the Swiss Embassy to the Swiss government, demanding an apology.

    This is a black mark against the Swiss Embassy and its diplomats too, for being a party to a well-planned conspiracy to defame the newly elected president and the GOSL, in the international arena.

    GOSL should take this matter very seriously, and punish the perpetrators who organized this cunning and politically motivated hoax, and send a strong message to the anti-SL forces, especially in the West, that SL will not tolerate such acts in the future.

    Otherwise, they will continue to ridicule, and treat SL as a banana republic, especially by the West.

  3. Ratanapala Says:

    Dean of the Diplomatic Corps Sri Lanka. Over to you now to call explanations from the Swiss Ambassador, Embassy and the Swiss Government. They have tarnished your name as well. However, from what is happening around the world it is easy to see that the behaviour of the Western Christian nations and their diplomatic staff is beyond the pale and nothing to be surprised about.

    These are the death throes of a dying star and their planetary system! First, it becomes a dirty giant Red Star throwing radiation all around destroying any possible life, then becomes a supernova explosion destroying everything even the planets that revolve around them, only to remain as an insignificant neutron star in the end. This is what is happening to the American Empire, as it happened to all other empires including the British Empire which is only a minuscule of what it was before World War II – soon to be little England run by Indians and Muslims!

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