Former Justice and Buddha Sasana Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said today he didn’t resign from any portfolio but was removed in an attempt to sweep the bond scam under the carpet.
He told the media outside the Justice Ministry that baseless charges had been made against him saying he had struck deals with former government members to delay court cases filed against them.
“This is an attempt to sweep the bond scam under the carpet by sacrificing me. In Sri Lanka’s history, this is the first time a minister was accused of not influencing the judiciary and the Attorney General’s Department whereas former justice ministers had been accused of influencing the judiciary,” he said.
Mr. Rajapakshe said the AG had been summoned to Temple Trees last Tuesday and the UNP backbench MPs had criticized and ridiculed him.
“They have urged him to finish, within two weeks, the court cases filed against individuals named and selected by them,” he said and added that he was accused of breaching the collective responsibility of the Cabinet when he revealed that the agreement to handover Hambantota Port to China was against the Constitution.
He said according to Article 157 of the Constitution, a two-thirds majority was required Parliament to enter into an agreement like the one to handover the Hambantota Port.
“The Cabinet has collectively violated the Constitution by agreeing to the Hambantota deal. When I revealed this as a minister, then I was accused of breaching the collective responsibility of the Cabinet. Today, the agreement is only a paper which is legally null and void,” he said.
Mr. Rajapakshe said it was the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) which had the authority to handover operations of the port but not the port.
“There is a group of people who are angered by my revelation. On the other hand, according to my conscience there is nothing more shameful than staying in a Cabinet when the assets are being sold,” he said and added that the second reason behind his removal was the Central Bank bond scam.
“The CB bond scam is the biggest financial fraud ever committed in Sri Lanka since the days of King Pandukabhaya. With a presidential commission being appointed unexpectedly, the names of the big shots behind the scam are being revealed now. When the deals of the footnote gang which attempted to conceal the scam was revealed, people are afraid now. I maintained the independence of the AG’s Department. People accept the Bond Commission to recommend more action against more people. When the AG’s Department was continueing to function independently under me, those who are involved in the bond scam can’t go free. Therefore, they want to break the AG Department’s spinal cord,” he said.
When asked about the Avant Garde issue, Mr. Rajapakshe said the former Attorney General had said no criminal case could be filed over the issue.
“If action is being taken against anyone, then the arrests should begin with the defence secretary because the navy still stores government weapons on an Avant Garde ship docked in the Red Sea. About 500 such weapons are stored there. Therefore, officials beginning with the current defence minister should be held responsible. No action can be taken against me,” he said.
Mr. Rajapakshe said a special presidential commission appointed to look into the issue had submitted its report to the President saying the Avant Garde issue was not illegal.
While saying he would reveal his political journey later, the former minister said, “I invite people to decide the fate of the government which feeds on national assets,”. (Lahiru Pothmulla)