Wimal renews corruption charges against new Justice Minister

Wimal Weerawansa

National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa, MP, has alleged that Foreign Employment Minister Thalatha Atukorale had been rewarded with justice portfolio, in spite of prevailing corruption charges against her.

Ratnapura District MP Atukorale received justice portfolio last Friday.

MP Weerawansa told The Island that yahapalana government had overlooked the complaint made by the Joint Opposition (JO) in December last year to the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC).

The JO alleged a fraud involving Rs 1.5 bn insurance cover for expatriate workers on Athukolarle’s watch.

Denying any wrongdoing on her part, Atukorale has challenged the JO to prove their accusations. Asked for comment, she told The Island yesterday that she would counter all allegations against here after assuming duties as the Justice Minister next Thursday.

Weerawansa said instead of probing Atukorale, she had been given the justice portfolio to oversee the Attorney General’s Department taking action against Joint Opposition members in the run-up to Local Government polls. MP Weerawansa said the government was planning to throw 10 JO members behind bars before Local Government polls.

The MP flayed Minister Atukorale at a public meeting held at postal department auditorium, Kegalle on Sunday (Aug. 27). Colombo District MP Weerawansa claimed that the CIABOC was unlikely to probe Minister Atukorale.

Commenting on the ongoing dispute between kapuralas and Basnayaka Nilame D. P. Kumarage of historical Ruhunu Kataragama Devalaya, Weerawansa said God Kataragama could now take punitive action against the one who had prevented the ‘pooja’ there on Monday morning. He that Kumarage, a relative of President Maithripala Sirisena, had taken away the key to the devalaya from a kapurala who was to perform the pooja.

Lashing out at the government for what he called interfering with law enforcement operations in the Jaffna peninsula, he alleged law enforcement authorities hadn’t been able to perform their legitimate duties and were under tremendous pressure to look the other way as criminal elements flexed their muscles in the Jaffna peninsula. The MP, while referring to spate of incidents that had taken place in the Jaffna peninsula since the second week of July, accused the government of jeopardising national security.

Weerawansa also alleged that state-owned media telecasting movies promoting homosexuality as the government was making an attempt to legitimise such practices.

Colombo district MP Weerawansa said the JVP mounted limited attacks on the government with the approval of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and UNP Chairman Malik Samarawickrema.

The MP lambasted the government for giving tax exemptions to foreign multinationals engaged in milk food and flour import to the tune of USD 300 mn annually. He alleged multinationals received massive relief from the administration, while the vast majority of people were struggling to make ends meet.

Having promised the country of an economic miracle in the run-up to presidential and parliamentary polls in 2015, the government had caused chaos in every sector. The Prime Minister ended up complaining on a daily basis about the difficulty in running the economy due to national debt blamed on former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the NFF leader said.

(Source: The Island – By Shamindra Ferdinando)