The Sunday Leader

The Long Arm Of The Law Inactive?

  • Radaliyagoda still at large

By Nirmala Kannangara

Sudarman Radaliyagoda (L) with former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa

The long arm of the law, which easily reaches out to less-privileged, has failed to act against Sudarman Radaliyagoda, the former Deputy General Manager of News and Current Affairs of the Independent Television Network (ITN).

However, law enforcement authorities were seen to be very active after the downfall of the Rajapaksa administration and arrested Radaliyagoda, this time not for the involvement of a fraud, but for airing a news item in December 2014 defamatory of the then Presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena.

Radaliyagoda contested the 2010 general election under the UPFA banner from the Colombo District as he was a close confidant of Rajapaksa’s and the law was helpless, as he enjoyed political patronage from high offices during the former regime. Although the management of ITN was earlier afraid to take any action against him because of his connections with the then powerful family, on the directives of Colombo Additional Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage, Radaliyagoda was remanded on February 10 till February 24. Later the ITN had sent Radaliyagoda on compulsory leave pending investigations, The Sunday Leader learns.

Radaliyagoda, who had two arrest warrants against him on two previous occasions, surrendered to the police on February 10 knowing well that he no longer enjoyed the powers of the Rajapaksa regime.

 

Forging signatures

However, questions have been raised as to why the police had failed to arrest him for over three years even though there was a court warrant issued in 2012 for his arrest on the charges of committing an alleged fraud by forging signatures and taking money from two businessmen promising them to obtain a consignment of scrap iron from Sri Lanka Telecom.

“The police was quick enough to act on the complaint lodged by the Police Children’s and Women’s Bureau for using an underage child to sling mud at Maithripala Sirisena during his presidential election campaign. However, the same police force failed to execute the court order issued by the Fort Magistrate to arrest Radaliyagoda on fraud charges,” an ITN employee said on condition of anonymity.

 

A powerful person

According to the ITN employee, Radaliyagoda was a powerful person at ITN during the Rajapaksa administration and was not concerned of the court ruling and travelled all over the country without being arrested, which was a surprise for all ITN employees.

“There is a police post even at the main entrance to the ITN and the police personnel see him every day and night at his office. Although it is not confirmed, it was alleged that the then government had given him a pistol for his personal security although he was neither a politician nor had any threats other than the court warrant against him,” the employee claimed.

Following the interrogation of two scrap iron businessmen by the police, who were arrested on a tip off by the Chief Store Keeper of Sri Lanka Telecom, it was revealed how Radaliyagoda had forged the signature of Telecom Chief Store Keeper and had issued letters to the two businessmen giving permission to remove 1,828 tons of scrap iron after obtaining Rs 1.5 million from them.

Since Radaliyagoda was accused of preparing forged document to these scrap iron businessmen to get 1,828 tons of scrap iron from Sri Lanka Telecom, after a successful investigation, the Fort Magistrate ordered the Colombo Fraud Investigation Bureau to arrest the suspect and produce him in courts but to no avail.

Meanwhile, sources from Sri Lanka Telecom said how Radaliyagoda obtained permission from Telecom to purchase scrap iron to the value of Rs. 6 million and has sold it to the two scrap iron businessmen secretly, obtaining an advance of Rs 1.5 million.

However, later, when the two businessmen had gone to Telecom to take away the iron, it had come to light that Radaliyagoda had allegedly forged the Chief Storekeeper’s signature and had been defrauded the two traders and also Sri Lanka Telecom.

 

SLT almost caught

“Cheating Sri Lanka Telecom, Radaliyagoda sold the approval letter given to him to purchase the iron to two scrap iron traders, but later it was revealed that the document given to Radaliyagoda had not been given to the businessmen, but a forged document. Had the stores and security failed to check the document properly, Sri Lanka Telecom would have got caught to Radaliyagoda’s racket,” sources claimed.

Meanwhile, the two traders had told the police that they trusted Radaliyagoda as the transaction was done through a lawyer. Therefore, they never believed that they were being defrauded by the suspect.

 

Police failed to arrest

Based on the findings of the investigation, the Police Fraud Bureau sought permission from the Fort Magistrate to arrest the suspect on fraud charges. Although orders were given to arrest Radaliyagoda followed by issuing an open warrant against the suspect, the police had ignored to arrest him, and allowed him to walk away freely.

Meanwhile, a legal luminary, on condition of anonymity, said that it was not a surprise for him to witness the Police Department’s failure to arrest Radaliyagoda as the police received orders from ‘high offices’ at the time not to arrest the suspect.

According to him, the Magistrates were also helpless when the police deliberately disobeyed the court orders and had to maintain silence knowing that the police had received orders from certain powerful parties.

Meanwhile, ITN sources further said how Radaliyagoda visited the Kotte Rajamaha Viharaya when a Buddhist monk was killed to loot money and some ancient swords a few years ago.

“When we went to the scene to cover the event for our news, we were surprised to see Radaliyagoda with high-ranking police officials. By this time the court had issued an open warrant on him as he failed to appear before court on the charges levelled against him for forging signatures of Telecom officers. When one of our crew members called the police emergency hotline 119 and gave the information that Radaliyagoda was in the temple that night, the police disconnected the telephone line. Since this happened soon after the court warrant was issued, we then knew that he would never be arrested as long as he was reportedly having a good relationship with the Rajapaksa’s,” the sources claimed.

The sources further said how Radaliyagoda, who contested the 2010 general election from the UPFA for the Colombo District, was later seen moving freely with fellow UPFA supporters at the 2013 May Day rally.

“If anyone can log on to past UPFA May Day rally video clips, it is clearly visible how this accused was moving in front of the rally watched by police officers from all rank and file. Will the police officers spare a less powerful person if there was a court warrant against him,” he queried.

 

No response from police

When The Sunday Leader contacted Police spokesman ASP Ruwan Gunasekera to find out about Radaliyagoda’s pending case on forged documents, Gunasekera promised to furnish the details after obtaining them from the Police Fraud Bureau as he was unaware of the present status of the issue. However, all attempts made thereafter to contact him failed.

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