Ex-Defence Secretary Gotabhaya's supporters fly altered national flag

Supporters and loyalists of former defence secretary Gotabhya Rajapaksa protesting against him being interrogated by the Bribery Commission, were seen Thursday (23) flying altered national flag in an outrageous bid to racially re-emphasise that Sri Lanka is a Sinhala Buddhist country.

The protesters were flying the national flag without the two vertical bands in equal size in orange and green which represent the Tamil and Muslim communities respectively on the flag.

Even some of the MPs and provincial councillors were seen carrying the altered flag that only had the lion carrying a sword during the protest outside the Bribery Commission despite a heavy police presence.

Court order

The police Wednesday (22) secured an injunction order from the Colombo Magistrate Court banning all the protests in the vicinity of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of  Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) complex in Colombo.

The protestors, however, gave no respect to the court order reducing the police officers occupying the streets in large numbers as mere onlookers. 

Lawyers representing the interests of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said that the former defence secretary has asked for more time to answer the charges levelled against him as he was questioned by the Commission on a different matter and not on the one he was previously informed of.

Several charges including misappropriation of state funds and misuse of powers for personal and political gains have been levelled against the members of the Rajapaksa family.

Floating armoury

It was only Wednesday that former economic development minister Basil Rajapaksa was arrested by the Financial Crimes Division for misappropriating over 70 million rupees from the 'Divineguma Rural Development Fund'. He has now been remanded along with two of his former aides till May 5 after being charged under the Public Property Act.

Gotabhaya has been accused of illegally using state resources to set up and run the Avant Garde “floating armoury", in gross misuse of power. He has also been questioned on corrupt purchase of six MA-60 aircraft in 2008.

An inquiry board appointed to probe the allegations of corruption in the Sri Lankan Airlines last month expanded its probe beyond the $2.3 billion Airbus deal and extended it to the purchase of passenger planes from China violating all norms of civilian safety rules.

According to probe report, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa had initiated the purchase of six MA-60 aircraft in 2008, but the proposal was surreptitiously made through the civil aviation ministry to dodge financing conditions of ExIm bank of China.

Implicating Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in this corrupt deal, the Board of Inquiry recommend that similar to the $ 2.3 billion Airbus deal, the MA-60 purchase too should be “investigated for criminal liability,” which means the arresting of Gotabhaya, among others.

'Police State'

Speaking to reporters while leaving the CIABOC complex, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa accused the Sirisena government turning Sri Lanka "a Police State".

"Charges are being levelled against all the Ministry Secretaries of the previous government...During the past nine years of rule, I neither misappropriate nor misused a cent from the state. I was only getting my pension on my bank account," he said.

"These officials who interrogate me should be brought before the same Commission first to answer because it is politically motivated. Under this police state, democracy is fast disappearing," the one-time powerful defence secretary said.