Public officials need to move slightly out of the books of law - senior adviser to the President of Sri Lanka

Lalith Weerathunga and Anusha Pelpita
Sri Lanka's Court of Appeal acquitted two former senior public officials loyal to the present government from a case on misappropriating state funds for a presidential election campaign of Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Addressing media after the judgement, Lalith Weerathunga, the present senior adviser to the President, said to media that the public officials need to move slightly out of the books of law to serve people.  

"I think the judgement relieved the public service from unfair bonds. I urge my public servant colleagues not to fear to do the right thing. Many public officials were discouraged by this judgement. I think that time is over. Do the right thing. No problem will occur. I think public officials need to move slightly out of the books of law. I don't see any error there if the decisions are not self-benefitting and benefiting only the people," Weerathunga said. 

He thanked his wife, children, close relatives and senior counsel Kanchana Ratwatte for their support.

Former Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga and former Director-General of the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC), Anusha Palpita were acquitted from the case related to misappropriating Rs.600 million funds of the TRC for distributing white clothes for the Buddhist laymen to wear on religious observances. According to the charges, the misappropriation took place during the presidential campaign in 2015 for the advantage of Mahinda Rajapaksa's campaign. 

Colombo High Court Judge Gihan Kulatunga found them guilty of misappropriation of public funds and sentenced them to three years rigorous imprisonment on 7 September 2017.  Colombo High Court also imposed a fine of Rs.2 million on each of the convicts. They were further ordered to pay Rs.50 million to the TRC as compensation. 

Appellate Court panel of judges comprising justices Kumuduni Wickramasinghe and Devika Aberathna delivered the judgement and said that the evidence and document analysis had not proved a misappropriation beyond a reasonable doubt.  


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