SL's Prez orders probe on last govt's corruption panel

SL's Prez orders probe on last govt's corruption panel

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Friday ordered a presidential probe on the previous government's anti-corruption panels which investigated the members of the Rajapaksa family including himself.

Two retired senior judges and former police chief have been appointed to the panel which has been mandated to come out with a report within six months from January 9, according to a gazette issued by the government.

The work of the Financial Crime Division (FCID) of the police, the Bribery and Corruption Commission and the police's special investigation units would come under the focus of the probe covering the period commencing January 9, 2015, to November 16, 2019, the day of the presidential election when Rajapaksa was elected president.

The probe panels of former president Maithripala Sirisena and ex-prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe government investigated the members of the Rajapaksa family on the alleged misconduct during 2005 and 2015.

Many of them were arrested and remanded before securing bail. None of the cases has been concluded so far.

The probe would focus on whether any public service personnel had been politically victimised during the previous government through its probe panels.

The Sirisena/Wickremesinghe government was elected on its pledge to eradicate corruption and expose alleged corruption during the tenure of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa who was in office from November 2005 to January 2015.

The Rajapaksas cried foul over the investigations claiming they were part of the political witch-hunt. They were particularly critical of the FCID which they claimed had been set up illegally. The FCID launched investigations into alleged mass-scale financial fraud.

The appointment of the special panel has come in the wake of the current political storm involving recorded telephone conversations between a parliamentarian of the last government and some of the judges and top police investigators on the probes between 2015 and 2019.

Parliamentarian Ranjan Ramanayake is being accused of exerting pressure on judges and investigators to fix members of the last Rajapaksa government.

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