|Thursday, 1 April 2004|
Ravi Jayewardene clarifies
Reference the front page news item headlined 'CID to probe foreign mercenaries deal', Ravi Jayewardene in a letter to the editor states:
"The Daily News of March 27, 2004 had an article titled 'CID to probe multi-million foreign mercenaries deal'. This article gave the impression that I was responsible for attempting to bring to Sri Lanka a dubious deal to train the armed forces. For many years, our armed forces have been taking advantage of various training programs of a government-to-government nature.
These programs have been mainly for the purpose of fostering goodwill and never provided for the training of a large body of soldiers. It is common knowledge that one of the causes of high casualty rates in combat are as a rest of inadequate training.
My intention was to bring to Sri Lanka the same organisation that trained the original Special Task Force to train all of Sri Lanka's Infantry Battalions and thereby make the Sri Lanka army far more combat ready and proficient so that they can face engagements with less or no casualties and a greater degree of success.
Unfortunately, though initially the army gave its fullest cooperation for the advance team to travel to the North and the East in military vehicles etc. the higher echelons of the army for reasons best known to them lost interest.
The payment that was made to the British company for the initial work done was made directly by the Sri Lanka Army to them. No friend of mine or I have had anything to do with it or received any benefit from it.
The article also states that I functioned as a 'Defence Advisor' to the Ministry of Defence in a position that was not approved by the Cabinet. It also said that I was not issued a letter of appointment.
These statements in your article are untrue as I was never the Defence Advisor but a 'Special Advisor' to the Ministry of Defence. I had a letter of appointment dated 21.1.2003 from Prime Minister. I opted to work in an honorary capacity without remuneration therefore the requirement for Cabinet approval did not apply.
This was not an unauthorised official position as you mention. I hope that whoever has been the architect of this letter can prove that I have at any stage masqueraded as a qualified defence and security expert. I am prepared for any type of probe."
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