ANCL cameraman covering Ranawaka’s court proceedings assaulted | Sunday Observer

ANCL cameraman covering Ranawaka’s court proceedings assaulted

Former Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka at the Colombo Magistrate’s Court premises.                                                     Pic: Wasitha Patabendige
Former Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka at the Colombo Magistrate’s Court premises. Pic: Wasitha Patabendige

A photojournalist of the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited- Gayan Pushpika, who was there to report on the court order on Ranawaka, was allegedly assaulted by Manjula Perera, a son of Kelaniya electorate UNP organiser Bevan Perera. Keselwatta police are investigating the incident

Former Minister and General Secretary of the Jathika Hela Urumaya, Patali Champika Ranawaka who was allegedly involved in a road accident in February 2016, which resulted in a motorcyclist being seriously injured, was arrested last week by the Colombo Crime Division and later remanded till December 24, after being produced before the Colombo Magistrate.

According to the facts submitted to courts by Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris, the former Minister had met with an accident involving a motorcycle (number plate of BK 2011) on February 8, 2016 between 9.45pm and 10pm near the Ayurveda junction in Rajagiriya. The collision involved a Jeep (KD 7545) of the Ministry of Power and Energy.

“The motorcycle had collided with the jeep and the rider fell in front of the Jeep. The Minister who was driving the jeep had fled the scene as per affidavits submitted by friends of the victim, who had seen the Minister lowering the window of the vehicle and looking,” DSG Peiris told the courts.

After the incident, MP Patali Champika Ranawaka had complained to the Borella Police and the other party had in turn lodged a complaint with the Welikada Police.

“But the police has failed to conduct a proper investigation about this. Although former Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka has stated that he was not driving the jeep at the time of the accident, the GPS data of his mobile phone has shown that the former minister had been there at the time this incident, while his driver had not been there - also according to GPS data evidence,” the SDG told the Court.

However, investigations and trials are now focusing on the conspiratorial behaviour of the former Minister, allegedly aimed at submitting misleading and false information to the police and the court. Based on the provisions of Articles 102,113,190,198,202,300 and 400 of the Penal Code, various allegations are now leveled against him.

According to the Attorney General’s Department, the jeep belongs to the Ministry of Power and Energy and has been subjected to Rs. 900,000 worth of damage by the accident. Now investigations are going on to determine, whether repairing of the Jeep using ministry funds was a misuse of public property or not. Considering these facts, the Deputy Solicitor General opposed granting bail for MP Champika Ranawaka.

Meanwhile, Anuja Premarathne PC and attorney Gunarathne Wanninayake who appeared for the defendant argued that none of the charges against their client bars granting bail. “Repair cost of the jeep had been paid through insurance money and not by Ministry funds. Therefore it cannot be taken under the public property act,” they told the courts.

After considering arguments of both parties, Colombo additional magistrate Neranjan De Silva ordered that Ranawaka be remanded till December 24. With the court order, MP Ranawaka was taken to the New Magazine prison, Colombo where he will remain till Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a video was circulating over Social media during the last few days, which was taken at the time the ex Minister was taken into police custody. There, he criticised the police stating that it had been “an illegal and unauthorized” entry into his residence. When police officers were attempting to clarify certain facts, the Parliamentarian interrupted and ordered them to stay silent while he kept on talking and someone kept on filming.

Amidst a wave of protests by members of the opposition, including the Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, Co-Cabinet Spokesperson, Minister Bandula Gunawardene told the media last week that the arrest of the MP Champika Ranawaka was not based on political grounds, but based on evidence found by the Colombo Crime Division against MP Ranawaka.

He said that imprisoning of political leaders without granting bail was the political program of the previous government and the current government will not bend the law for its political advantage.

Meanwhile, at a discussion with foreign media correspondents at the Presidential Secretariat on Thursday (19), President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that the arrest and trial procedures against former Minister Ranawaka are based on a complaint lodged by victims of the accident, and he neither influenced the Judiciary nor the Police over the matter.

In the wake of the arrest of Patali Champika Ranwaka, MP Rajitha Senaratne also filed an anticipatory bail application on Friday (20) to evade a possible arrest by the Crime Investigation Department over the White Van press conference organised by the former Minister weeks before the Presidential election 2019.

When the application was rejected by the Colombo Magistrate’s court, he filed a second application yesterday.