ASP’s arrest is biggest bribery case in 10 months

By Wasantha Ramanayake

The arrest of a police officer who had solicited a bribe of Rs. 1 million was the biggest case of bribery detected since the new Bribery Commissioners were appointed in May last year.

“A team of our investigators arrested a senior ASP attached to the Nugegoda Division who was caught in the act of accepting a sum of Rs. 1 million from a woman,” Bribery Commission Director General Lakshmi Jayawickrema told the Sunday Times. “The transaction took place close to the Wijerama Temple in Nugegoda The police officer had asked for Rs. 1.2 million to look into the woman’s grievance and settle matters in her favour.”

The welfare centre that is at the centre of the land dispute. Pic by Amila Prabodha

ASP Nihal Mendis was produced before the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court last week and was remanded till March 22. The 200 Rs. 5,000 currency notes accepted by the ASP were produced in court.

“There is a tendency now for people to come before the Bribery Commission, regardless of the amount of money involved or the status of the bribe-taker,” Ms. Jayawickrema said.

According to the investigators, the complainant was caught up in a property dispute with some monks over a Welfare Centre that provided after-care for patients of the Maharagama Cancer Hospital. The woman claimed that her daughter was the rightful owner of the centre, according to a last will signed by the Ven. Vegnathara Rahula, founder of the care centre and a relative of the woman. The woman claimed she had been involved in the administration of the centre since it was established in 1982.

The monks told the Sunday Times that under the terms of the Vihara and Devalagam Act, the welfare centre belonged to the temple where the Ven. Vegnathara Rahula Thera had resided. The monks are in possession of the welfare centre under a court order. The ASP had promised to help resolve the case in the woman’s daughter’s favour.

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