Lakmal Sooriyagoda-Saturday, July 1, 2017
The Colombo Fort Magistrate yesterday, ordered to impound two passports belonging to former Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga in the magisterial inquiry pertaining to the controversial MiG aircraft transaction.
Accordingly, a diplomatic passport bearing number D 3643585 and a general passport bearing number N 5400885 issued by the Sri Lankan government to Udayanga Weeratunga were ordered to be impounded by Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne in accordance with Section 124 of the Criminal Procedure Code and Section 51 C of the Immigrants and Emigrants Act.
The FCID conducting investigations into the controversial MiG aircraft transaction informed Court that they have sought the assistance of Interpol to trace former Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga who is currently living in United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The FCID informed Court that they were yet to ascertain Udayanga’s exact address in UAE and further said he has visited multiple countries including Japan using passports issued by Sri Lankan government.
FCID Chief Inspector Nihal Francis made request to impound two passports belonging to Udayanga Weeratunga as it may deem necessary to procure the attendance of the accused.
“We have recorded a statement from Deputy Minister Arundika Fernando about a meeting with Udayanga Weeratunga in Japan.
Deputy Minister Arundika Fernando had admitted to having met with Udayanga Weeratunga in Japan,” Chief Inspector added.
Colombo Fort Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne had earlier issued a warrant through the Interpol for the arrest of former Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga, a first cousin of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa over alleged financial fraud that is alleged to have taken place in procuring seven MiG-27 ground attack craft for the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLFA). The FCID conducting investigations into the MiG aircraft transaction had named Udayanga Weeratunga as a suspect in the case through a B report dated October 11, 2016. The FCID sought a warrant written in English through the Interpol from the Fort Magistrate’s Court to arrest former Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga over alleged financial fraud that is alleged to have taken place in procuring seven MiG-27 ground attack craft for the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLFA). The FCID told Court that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was unable to serve notices on Udayanga Weeratunga who has been residing in Ukraine for several years.
The FCID had informed Court that Udayanga Weeratunga had directly intervened into the questionable transaction in procuring MiG-27 ground attack craft. The FCID said the deal amounted to US$14 million. On June 9, 2016, the Colombo Fort Magistrate had issued notices on Weeratunga to appear in Court July 15 but he did not turn up.The FCID had told Court that they were investigating whether the former Sri Lankan ambassador in Russia had invested money in a company called Sri Lankan Limited Liability Company in Moscow, which were allegedly earned through the Mig-27 transaction. The FCID launched this investigation following a complaint lodged by defence columnist and political writer Iqbal Athas.
In his complaint to the FCID, journalist Iqbal Athas stated that he had written several articles regarding the financial irregularities that had taken place in procuring four Mig-27 aircraft at a higher price. He told the police that these ground attack aircrafts had been manufactured between 1980 and 1983. He said financial irregularities had taken place during the transaction between Sri Lank and Ukraine.