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Udayanga’s Sins Sparks Off DPL Pow-Wow

by Camelia Nathaniel and Ashanthi Warunasuriya

Although Udayanga Weeratunga, Sri Lanka’s former Envoy to Russia, is being investigated by the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID)  with regard to the acquisition of MiG-27 fighter jets from Ukraine and accused of supplying weapons to Ukrainian anti-government forces in that country, according to FCID sources, there is no formal complaint lodged with them against Weeratunga.

A high-ranking official at the FCID who wished to remain anonymous told The Sunday Leader that a joint investigation was underway by the FCID and the Ukrainian authorities over the alleged arms supply Weeratunga had been engaged in while in that country.

“Although there is no formal complaint that has been lodged against Weeratunga, we strongly suspect that he may have had a hand in supplying arms to the Ukrainian rebel group. But unfortunately our involvement in this issue has to be limited as there is no formal complaint that has been made with regard to this issue.

Moreover the Ukrainian government too is reluctant to pursue the matter. Therefore since the arms deal was done in Ukraine, it is beyond our jurisdiction. Weeratunga is said to have supplied Ukrainian manufactured weapons to the Ukrainian guerrillas, and since it has nothing to do with Sri Lanka, we are unable to take any drastic action against him.

However if a formal complaint regarding this matter is lodged with us, then we can pursue the investigation forcefully,” the FCID official said.

However, although the Sri Lankan authorities may not have jurisdiction over his supply of arms to the Ukrainian guerrillas, that fact is that Weeratunga had sold or helped transfer weapons to Ukrainian rebels using his diplomatic identity as a cover.

Udayanga Weeratunga

According to the FCID it was also revealed that Udayanga Weeratunga holds a Ukrainian passport. Further, the FCID stated that they will carry on the investigations against Weeratunga and once sufficient evidence is gathered, they will be in a position to take action against him.

Weeratunga is reported to have operated a small Sri Lankan restaurant in Kiev, the Ukranian capital, called Club Lanka. During the previous Rajapaksa regime, Weeratunga who is said to be a relative of Rajapaksa, was appointed as the Sri Lanka Envoy to Moscow.

However, Weeratunga was involved in many illegal deals while serving in his diplomatic capacity and was removed from his post after having enjoyed his diplomatic post for nine years, when the Good Governance regime took over in January 2015. Thereafter, in spite of the FCID investigations into his role in the Sri Lanka Air Force purchase of MiG-27s from Ukraine, Weeratunga has avoided returning to Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, The Sunday Leader also contacted the Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maheshini Colonne regarding Weeratunga’s current status and to clarify if he had returned his diplomatic passport. Colonne confirmed that he had not handed in his diplomatic passport as yet. As far as the investigation on the arms deal was concerned, she said that it was beyond the purview of the Foreign Ministry and said that it would be handled by the FCID.

Meanwhile Weeratunga had surfaced in Thailand during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to Bangkok and Udon Thani in Thailand. How Weeratunga had entered Thailand is another mystery. According to reports, the Thai authorities had no record of Weeratunga’s visit.

Although Sri Lanka’s Department of Immigration cancelled his diplomatic passport, it has been reported that he was still using it. While the Sri Lankan government had cancelled his diplomatic passport, it was a possibility that Weeratunga, who is said to hold a Ukrainian passport, may have entered Thailand using that.

When The Sunday Leader asked Colonne if the Foreign Ministry would take up the issue where Weeratunga had met with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and former Minister G. L. Pieris during their visit to Thailand, she said, “It’s beyond this ministry’s purview and we can’t initiate investigations of that nature.”

Therefore, she said that if at all someone wishes to record a statement from the former president regarding his meeting with Udayanga Weeratunga, then that would be the relevant investigative arm of the CID.

With regard to the removal of Weeratunga from his position as ambassador, Kolonne said he had been removed from his post but had not returned to the country. She added that all political appointees to diplomatic posts during the previous regime have been sent letters removing them from those positions. However, she said that there was no compulsion for them to return to Sri Lanka.

However, issuing a press release, Udayanga Weeratunga has denied all allegations levelled against him, charging that these are lies fabricated by the good governance regime.Since the end of his tenure in January 2015, the diplomatic passport used by Udayanga Weeratunga while he was working as the Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia has now been converted in to a normal passport. However, according to sources, although he had applied for a regular passport, before it was issued, he had departed to another country.

By law,  Weeratunga is no longer permitted to use his diplomatic passport. But before the Foreign Ministry could declare so, Weeratunga has made his move. However, his normal passport has been accepted by his wife on his behalf.

According to reports, Weeratunga has left Russia to go to Ukraine in order to pursue a post-graduate degree. For that, he had been granted a visa from Ukraine.

Up until recent times there has been no extradition agreement between Ukraine and Sri Lanka. However, last month the government of Sri Lanka initiated steps to enter into such an agreement with the government of Ukraine.   Accordingly, Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakse says that Sri Lanka is expecting to expand the extradition agreements to more countries.

As per these agreements the countries who have signed them are bound to share information and wanted personnel.  So far the Ukraine government had not cooperated with Sri Lanka due to the absence of such an agreement. But the situation is soon to be changed, sources further said.

However, the CID says that a case has not been filed regarding the passport issue of Udayanga Weeratunga and those investigations are only being carried out regarding the alleged murder accusation that has been levelled against him.

But since there is a delay in receiving information from relevant authorities, the investigations have ground to a halt. Furthermore, a court order has not yet been obtained to take him into custody. Hence his name is not yet in the black list.

Weeratunga who resurfaced during former President Rajapaksa’s recent visit to Thailand was once again seen during Rajapaksa’s Uganda tour. A photography enthusiast, Weeratunga is currently acting as a coordinator of Rajapaksa’s foreign funding organisation.

 

Agreement to deal with criminal matters

The government is making an attempt to arrest Sri Lanka’s former Ambassador to Russia, Udayanga Weeratunga, through an agreement with Ukraine, sources said.

According to government sources, the path has been set for the police to seek the arrest and deportation of Udayanga Weeratunga from Ukraine.

Weeratunga is wanted in Sri Lanka to be investigated over several allegations, including claims that he had armed Ukraine rebels when he was the Ambassador to Russia and Mahinda Rajapaksa was the President of Sri Lanka. Udayanga Weeratunga has confirmed on several occasions that he is living in Ukraine and refused to return to Sri Lanka to be investigated over the allegations.Last week Cabinet approval was obtained for Sri Lanka and Ukraine to reach an agreement on dealing with criminal matters.

The government said international mutual legal assistance in criminal matters is becoming increasingly important to combat such crimes. The Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act No. 25 of 2002 provides for the provisions of assistance by Sri Lanka to foreign countries and regarding criminal matters in those countries and for obtaining similar assistance from such countries to Sri Lanka.

A proposal made by the Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapakse to enter into an agreement with Ukraine to improve the effectiveness of law enforcement of both parties in the investigation, prosecution and prevention of crime and confiscation of criminal proceeds, was approved by the Cabinet last week.

When contacted by The Sunday Leader, Minister Rajapakse said arresting Udayanga Weeratunga is a police matter and the government, for its part, is looking to reach an agreement with Ukraine and other countries to work together to deal with crime.

 

“He cannot use the DPL passport”

Yogachandra, Deputy Controller, Immigration, Overseas Branch

“Udayanga Weeratunga had applied for a normal passport without surrendering his diplomatic passport to us. We got to know about this later. Hence he has applied for a normal passport while holding status as the ambassador. However, once the normal passport is issued the DLP passport is automatically cancelled. That is done by the system.

The Foreign Ministry had informed us that he could not use the DPL passport and that we have to nab him if he has used it. We have now issued him a normal passport. Hence he cannot use the DPL passport from March 6, 2015.

Still there is no ban against him in our system. As a normal citizen he can come to Sri Lanka. After 2015 he has not returned to Sri Lanka.”

“No ban against him”

 

Lakshan De Soysa, Media Spokesman

He is now using the normal passport. He can come to Sri Lanka any time he wishes. There is no ban against him that we know of.

 

3 Comments for “Udayanga’s Sins Sparks Off DPL Pow-Wow”

  1. Kaputa

    As stated by Yogachandra, Deputy Controller, Immigration, Overseas Branch
    “Udayanga Weeratunga had applied for a normal passport without surrendering his diplomatic passport to us. and he says “We got to know about this later”. This is no excuse for a Deputy controller ! However the CID says that a case has not been filed regarding the passport issue of Udayanga. The diplomatic passport has now been converted in to a normal passport. and it’s said his wife has collected it ! Well it’s a mystery and smoked screen affair.I find non of the so called learned officers of these important institutions are capable of pursuing this matter as some outside mysterious force is controlling them all.Welcome MR territory! Say what? Let me conclude! No Document of value is handed to a third party without a valid letter of authorization., then why not question Udayanga’s wife to start with?

    • Ratnam

      Hey! how is that Adel Balasingham is living in peace in Surrey. God’s mysterious ways?

  2. Citizen

    Why was a normal passport issued without his first surrendering the
    doplomatic passport.Is there no irregularity in this ?

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