ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 44

Human smuggling: No punishment for blue eyed ?

Mystery surrounds the failure of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party to punish two of its Western Provincial Council Ministers found guilty by an internal disciplinary committee of acts of human smuggling to developed countries, including a wanted person in an attempted murder case.

SLFP sources said the disciplinary committee comprising at least three Cabinet ministers and six lawyers concluded their findings against Western Province Agriculture, Lands, Animal Production and Health, Irrigation and Tourism Minister Hector Bethmage and Sports, Youth Affairs, Fisheries, Rural Industries, Rural Development and Rural Institutions and Housing and Construction Minister A.D. Gamini Thilakasiri on January 13. Soon thereafter the findings were submitted to Party General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena for action.

Disciplinary Committee chairman Minister John Seneviratne and its Secretary Champani Padmasekera both confirmed that disciplinary proceedings against the two were concluded and their report had been submitted to the party General Secretary.
Repeated attempts made to contact Mr. Sirisena in this regard proved futile.

The Sunday Times learns that since the acts committed by the two were so serious the Committee had recommended that Mr. Bethmage be stripped of his portfolio and he be suspended from the party for a period of three months and in the case of Mr. Thilakasiri he be suspended from the party for a period of six months.

Interestingly the charges with relevant documentary evidence against the two were brought forth by the present SLFP Kaduwela Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman G. H. Buddhadasa.

Among the charges the two ministers were found guilty of was that they along with their spouses accompanied K.N. Jagath Kumara, a wanted person in an attempted murder case and his wife to Britain on June 5, 2006 on Kuwait Airways flight KV362. Mr. Thilakasiri had even falsely issued a letter to the Immigration and Emigration Controller stating that Mr. Jagath Kumara was employed in his ministerial staff as a personal assistant.

Mr. Bethmage was also found guilty of helping to smuggle a number of other persons out of the country between July 22, 2004 and October 30, 2006.

The SLFP disciplinary committee, which acts as a Standing Committee of the party Central Committee comprises John Seneviratne, Prof. Vishwa Warnapala, Janaka Bandara Tennakoon, Prof. A.V. Suraweera, Dr Jagath Balasuriya, W. Karunajeewa, Saliya Mathew, Jerry Jayawardena, Champani Padamasekera and the late Anil Obeysekera.

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