SL prez says he became victim in abduction claim

SL prez says he became victim in abduction claim

Gotabaya Rajapaksa said on Thursday that he has become the victim in the alleged abduction of a Swiss Embassy employee, who was reportedly threatened and sexually abused to disclose embassy-related information

Sri Lankan President- Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said on Thursday that he has become the victim in the alleged abduction of a Swiss Embassy employee, who was reportedly threatened and sexually abused to disclose embassy-related information.

Rajapaksa said reports of the alleged abduction appeared in foreign media before the facts were established and critics accused his government of carrying it out.

"Now it is very clear. Actually, in this case, the victim is me, it is not that lady," Rajapaksa said in comments to foreign media.

"It is very clear that it is all planned to discredit me and the government," he said.

"Over the years they were talking about white vans and all the abductions. Now they want to say immediately after my election that this was taking place," Rajapaksa said.

The Swiss foreign ministry has called the alleged Nov 25 abduction of embassy employee “a very serious and unacceptable attack” and summoned Sri Lanka's ambassador to demand an investigation. It also criticized the lack of due process in the case.

Police have detained the embassy employee for pending charges that she had made statements to create disaffection towards the government and had fabricated the evidence. Rajapaksa says evidence collected by investigators doesn't match her account.

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis phoned his Sri Lankan counterpart, Dinesh Gunawardena, on Wednesday to discuss the case.

He's sending former Ambassador Joerg Frieden to Colombo for helping in resolving the dispute over alleged "security incident".

A Swiss foreign ministry statement said on Thursday that Cassis told Gunawardena that "the health and security of staff are of priority" and that the Sri Lankan authorities are responsible for protecting them to go forward.

Cassis also expressed regret over the judge's verdict to put local staff member in investigative detention. "The circumstances in prison do not consider her state of health," the ministry said. Cassis also asked Gunawardena to allow her to be moved to an appropriate location, such as a hospital.

The ministry also said that on Tuesday the current Swiss ambassador in Colombo, Hanspeter Mock, met with Sri Lankan prosecutors and made clear "Sri Lanka's reputation as a country governed by the rule of law depends on this case".

Cassis also told Gunawardena that the intense media reporting and public prejudgement in the case endangers Swiss embassy staff and narrows the basis of trust that's necessary for the investigation.

A Sri Lankan statement said Gunawardena emphasised that the government has "fully complied with national law and international judicial standards and that any assertion to the contrary was factually inaccurate".

Shortly after Rajapaksa became president on winning Nov 16 elections, a Sri Lankan police investigator Nishantha Silva, fled to Switzerland.

Silva had been investigating alleged abductions, torture, killings and enforced disappearances of journalists and activists when Rajapaksa was Defence Chief under the presidency of his brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa has been accused of overseeing what was known as "white van" abduction squads that whisked away critics. Some were returned after being tortured. Others were never seen again.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa has, however, denied the allegations.

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