The Colombo High Court today postponed for January 10, next year, recording evidence from the prosecution witnesses in a corruption case filed against two accused, including former North Central Province Chief Minister S.M. Ranjith Samarakoon, due to the absence of the first prosecution witness in the case.
The Bribery Commission had filed indictments before the Colombo High Court against former North Central Province Chief Minister S.M. Ranjith Samarakoon and his private secretary Shanthi Chandrasena, the spouse of former Minister S.M. Chandrasena, for allegedly causing an unlawful loss to the government when obtaining fuel allowance between September 27, 2012, and December 31, 2014. S.M. Ranjith Samarakoon is the brother of former Minister of Lands S.M. Chandrasena.
When the case came up before Colombo High Court Judge Mahen Weeraman, the Assistant Director General of the Bribery Commission informed him that first prosecution witness Rambandage Nimal Wijethilaka had sent his medical certificate via fax to support his absence.
Senior Counsel Darshana Kuruppu, appearing for the former chief minister, informed the court that the witness, Nimal Wijethilaka, who made the first complaint, had given evidence in another matter and revealed the fact that he was found guilty by the Court of Appeal for providing a false affidavit to mislead the court. Darshana Kuruppu further submitted that Nimal Wijethilaka admitted former Health Minister of North Central Province Herath Banda had assisted in drafting the complaint.
‘This will be a historical case in which a high-profile politician will not raise preliminary objections to dragging his case as he has enough evidence to prove his defence. A witness or an accused should not be allowed to play with the system,’ defence counsel Kuruppu added.
The Director-General of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption filed indictments against S.M. Ranjith and his then-private secretary Shanthi Chandrasena under Section 70 of the Bribery Act on eight charges.
The Bribery Commission alleged that first accused S.M. Ranjith, while serving as the North Central Province Chief Minister, had made arrangements to allocate a sum of Rs. 2.68 million to the official vehicle of his private secretary Shanthi Chandrasena, despite her fuel allowance having been added to her salary. The indictments had been filed under five counts under Section 70 of the Bribery Act and Sections 113 and 102 of the Penal Code.