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Lanka police reverse decision to remove top detective

Press Trust of India  |  Colombo 

Sri Lankan police on Tuesday reversed its decision to remove a top detective investigating alleged crimes by the family and associates of disputed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa following pressure from the civil society.

Removing detective Nishantha Silva was seen as a latest move in the ongoing political crisis as President Maithripala Sirisena forged a new alliance with Rajapaksa.

The country plunged into a crisis on October 26 when President Sirisena controversially sacked prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replaced him with former strongman Rajapaksa.

Officials said the transfer of inspector Silva, who handled many cases of murder and abduction of journalists and serious crimes committed under the Rajapaksa regime was cancelled by the police chief following inquiries by the police commission.

The cases handled by Silva included the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunga, the editor of the Sunday Leader who was a critic of the Rajapaksa regime.

Silva was also the main investigator in the disappearance of cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda, another high-profile case during the Rajapaksa administration.

Reports said that Sirisena asked the police chief to transfer Silva out of the crime investigation department.

However, the independent police commission on public complaints asked the police chief to cancel the transfer.

Commenting on the police commission's intervention, Wickremesinghe said that the cancelation of Silva's transfer "symbolised the functioning of strong democratic institutions against arbitrary and tyrannical moves of the executive."

The daughter of Wickrematunga, Ahimsa in a letter to Sirisena on Tuesday said, "I know Inspector Silva as the lead investigator into the murder of my father Lasantha Wickrematunga who was bludgeoned to death on 8 January 2009.

"You will be remembered as the president who tried to stop some of the most high-profile criminal investigations in the country and failed. Make no mistake Mr President if you try to stand in the way of justice for my father and other victims of brutality, you will fail," she said in the letter which was released to the media.

Since 2015 when Rajapaksa was defeated by Sirisena, the Rajapaksa family members and close associates were arrested on many cases of alleged wrong doing.

Sirisena's decision to sack the prime minister drew international criticism.

He later dissolved Parliament, almost 20 months before its term was to end, and ordered snap election. The Supreme Court last week overturned President Sirisena's decision to dissolve Parliament and halted the preparations for snap polls on January 5.

Monday's session was conducted peacefully. The House was adjourned till November 23 ten minutes after its opening.

Last week, Sri Lanka's parliament witnessed unprecedented violence as lawmakers threw furniture and chilli powder at each other.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, November 20 2018. 15:05 IST