Colombo : Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s 27-year-old son was arrested along with four other people over money laundering allegations.
Yoshitha Rajapaksa, the second son of ex-strongman Rajapaksa, was arrested and quizzed this morning by the police’s Financial Crimes Division (FCID) at the Sri Lankan Navy headquarters, a navy spokesman said. He and four others have been arrested on money laundering allegations, police said in a statement. All the five accused were produced in the Kaduwela Magistrate Court and remanded into judicial custody till February 13. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was also present in court as Yoshitha was sent to judicial custody.
Yoshitha, who is a navy officer, is the first immediate family member of former President Rajapaksa to be arrested since his shock defeat at the hands of Maithripala Sirisena in the polls last year. He was quizzed in connection with TV channel Carlton Sports Network (CSN) which had close links with the Rajapaksa sons.
CSN was controversially handed over Sri Lankan cricket’s television broadcast rights under the Rajapaksa regime.
The broadcast rights had been the preserve of the state television until then. Nishantha Ranatunga, who was CSN’s CEO, was also among those arrested. He was also the Secretary of the Cricket governing body.
CSN was launched by Yoshitha Rajapaksa when Mahinda Rajapaksa was President and the network was given exclusive rights to cricket matches featuring Sri Lanka. However when the new Government took office CSN lost those rights and was being investigated by the FCID. Sri Lanka witnessed a huge political change in the beginning of last year when Sirisena trounced Rajapaksa in the January 8 presidential race, ending his 10-year-rule. Rajapaksa in August tried to stage a dramatic comeback as prime minister as Sri Lanka voted to elect a 225-member Parliament.
However, Rajapaksa’s hopes were dashed as Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) won a closely- fought election to form a national unity government. Apart from Yoshitha, Rajapaksa has two other sons.
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