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Sri Lankan President wins tsunami case

The police had initiated an inquiry against Mahinda Rajapaksa on allegations of misuse of tsunami funds, a court official said.

india Updated: Mar 27, 2006 18:58 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Sri Lanka's Supreme Court has ruled that President Mahinda Rajapaksa's rights were violated by police, who had initiated an inquiry against him on allegations of misuse of tsunami funds, a court official said on Monday.

The court ordered police inspector general Chandra Fernando, the former head of the Criminal Investigations Department, Deputy Inspector General of Police Lionel Gunatillake and an opposition politician who lodged the complaint, to pay compensation amounting Rs 100,000 ($1,000) each.

In addition, the government also was ordered to pay Rs 200,000 in compensation to Rajapaksa.

Opposition politician Kabeer Hashim, representing the United National Party (UNP) had lodged a complaint with the police that Rajapaksa, then prime minister, had fraudulently deposited Rs 80 million donated by various agencies for tsunami victims in private accounts.

Police accordingly initiated an inquiry into the allegations, but Rajapaksa obtained a court order to stop the investigations on the ground that it would tarnish his image as he was contesting as the Presidential candidate.

Since then no inquiry has been held about the allegations against Rajapaksa.

However, the funds were later deposited with the state-controlled Central Bank.

The president had filed a petition in the Supreme Court claiming that his fundamental rights had been violated.

After the Dec 26, 2004 tsunami hit almost two thirds of the coastal belt, the country received large sums of donations - some of which were reportedly misused.

The opposition UNP's main allegation was that Rajapaksa could not contest elections on the ground that he was corrupt, having misused funds meant for tsunami victims.

Rajapaksa won the November presidential election with a slender majority over UNP's candidate, Ranil Wickremesinghe.

An estimated 40,000 people were killed in Sri Lanka and over 75,000 houses destroyed or damaged.

So far not more than 15,000 permanent houses have been completed for those affected by the disaster.

First Published: Mar 27, 2006 18:58 IST