Minister Basil Rajapaksa acquitted and released from almanac case

(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – The Colombo High Court has acquitted and released Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa, and Kithsiri Ranawaka, the former Director General of the Divineguma Development Department, from the almanac case.

Announcing the verdict, Colombo High Court Judge Damith Thotawatte stated that the evidence presented by the prosecution in this case has failed to prove the allegations against the accused.

“According to the testimony of Dilan Kaluarachchi of the Divineguma Department who testified in this case, it has been revealed that the process of printing the almanacs had taken place in 2011. The witness had stated that since the inception of the Divineguma Department, it has been carried out in accordance with the objectives of the department. The witness stated that the printing of the almanacs for the year 2015 which is the basis of this case, took place in the latter half of the 2014 according to the same process,” the judge noted.

Judge Damith Thotawatte further said that the evidence had shown that this almanac printing process was carried out in accordance with the accepted procurement process, and that the payments were made in a systematic and proper manner and the evidence suggests that this is a recurring expense.

The judge said that the prosecution had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there had been an abuse or a violation of the provisions of the Presidential Election Act through the process of printing and distributing these almanacs.

Accordingly, the defendants were acquitted and released without a calling a defense statement, the judge concluded.

The judge further ordered that if there was any travel ban imposed on the accused by his court, steps should be taken to lift it and release the bail money deposited by the accused in the court.

The Attorney General had filed indictments against Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa and former Divi Neguma Department Director General Kithsiri Ranawaka in the Colombo High Court for allegedly printing five million almanacs with the image of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, at a cost of Rs. 29.4 million of funds belonging to the Divi Neguma Department, to be used as election propaganda material, during the January 2015 Presidential Election.

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