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DateLine Wednesday, 21 March 2007

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Sooriyaarachchi re-remanded

COLOMBO: Former Minister Sripathy Sooriyaarachchi who was in remand custody for allegedly misusing Government property was further remanded till March 27 by Kaduwela Additional Magistrate Lakmal Wickremasuriya yesterday.

Magistrate Wickremasuriya reserved his order on an application by the suspect for bail till the next date, March 27.

On an application by President's Counsel Tilak Marapana, Senior Counsel for the suspect, the Magistrate allowed Sooriyaarachchi to attend Parliament sessions during sittings.

Sooriyaarachchi was taken into custody by the officials of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in connection with misusing a vehicle belonging to the Postal and Telecommunications Department. Senior State Counsel Ms. Menaka Wijesundera who appeared with the CID for the Attorney General told Court that the investigations against the suspect were not complete.

President's Counsel Tilak Marapana, moving for bail submitted to court that his client was taken into custody in connection with a jeep which belonged to the Postal Department. This vehicle was not in his possession. He had used a number of vehicles for his security section, but was not responsible for all of them.

Sooriyaarachchi was the Commissioner of Essential Services and held several important posts in the Government prior to being removed from his Ministry.

A senior officer attached to Sooriyaarachchi's former ministry had given an affidavit that the vehicle in question was not in proper working condition and it had been given for repairs, Senior Defence Counsel said.President's Counsel Marapana emphasised that the CID had a duty to investigate the affidavit and ascertain the truth about it before taking the suspect into custody.

Sooriyaarachchi is a member of the COPE and has to attend several important meetings in the interest of the public that he represents in his electorate, the Senior defence Counsel said. Since Sooriyaarachchi had requested to appoint a Select Committee on certain matters, he (Sooriyaarachchi) was arrested and remanded, Senior Counsel said.

President's Counsel in his lengthy submissions submitted that the Court has the power to grant bail in respect of his client and to consider all the special circumstances placed before court. The CID is unable to maintain the charges against his client.

Senior State Counsel Menaka Wijesundera objected to the suspect being released on bail and said the ongoing investigations were not completed as yet. Sooriyaarachchi was produced in court and remanded under the Public Property Act, Senior State Counsel added.

Citing several authorities Senior State Counsel Wijesundera said that the Senior Defence Counsel had not submitted any special circumstance to grant bail to the suspect.

The vehicle in question was a Government vehicle and cannot be repaired by a private motor vehicle shop. The investigation also revealed that the engine of the vehicle in question had been changed, the senior State Counsel said. After submissions by the Senior State Counsel and the senior Defence Counsel, the Magistrate reserved his order in respect of bail for March 27 and remanded the suspect till then.

President's Counsel Tilak Marapana with Nalin Ladduwahetty, Nelanthi Peiris, Methsiri Paranavitharana, Jayantha Samarakoon, Ranjith Pigera and B.P. Heenkanda instructed by Messrs Paul Ratnayake Associated appeared for the suspect.


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