By Shamindra Ferdinando
National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa, MP, yesterday (23) challenged Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, to reveal the person who had allegedly received USD 250 mn to derail Sri Lanka’s bid to secure compensation for the X-Press Pearl maritime disaster, in Sri Lankan waters, in May/June 2021.
Addressing the media at the NFF office, at Etul Kotte, the former Minister said that Dr. Rajapakse could do so in Parliament, exercising privilege as a member. Parliament is scheduled to meet next, from Tuesday to Friday.
The Justice Minister made the explosive disclosure of USD 250 mn bribe in the April 13, 2023 edition of The Island.MP Weerawansa said that having acknowledged he knew the account number of a bank in the UK that received USD 250 mn, the Justice Minister should go the whole hog, the MP said.
The NFF leader called for a thorough investigation into the alleged bid to thwart Sri Lanka from making a realistic claim.Former MEPA Chairperson Attorney-at-Law Dharshini Lahandapura is on record as having said that an expert committee, appointed by her, asserted the compensation at USD 6.4 bn, whereas environmentalist Dr. Ajantha Perera declared Sri Lanka could ask for as much as USD 50 bn.
Commenting on the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act, Wimal Weerawansa said that it was meant to target the legitimate political opposition. The former JVPer said that, in fact, the new Act provided much better protection to those who really planned /engaged in terrorism whereas the media was targeted on the basis they could influence acts of terrorism.
Responding to a query, MP Weerawansa said that all those responsible for the Easter Sunday carnage should be punished. However, those who had been implicated with the National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ) movement, and others involved in the conspiracy, pretended they were concerned about the Easter Sunday victims. Asked to explain, MP Weerawansa said that the JVP should explain how the father of two Easter Sunday suicide bombers, and wealthy spice trader Mohamed Yusuf Ibrahim, ended up on the JVP’s National List at the 2015 general election.
MP Weerawansa said that the JVP, too, organized a protest march, demanding justice for the Easter Sunday victims. The former Minister said Ibrahim’s daughter-in-law triggered the suicide blast when police commandos raided their luxury house at Dematagoda. The JVP should explain the nexus with the Ibrahim family, MP Weerawansa said.