Sri Lanka’s former Cabinet minister Rajitha Senarathna was arrested on Friday after allegations of involvement in organizing a fake news conference. The local police said that the topic of the press conference was abductions under the government of the current President’s brother.
For Rajitha Senarathna, the ex-minister in the Sri Lankan Cabinet, the participation in the news conference about people who were abducted under the brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. During that event, two people described “white van” squads that abducted critics under Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government. The two who spoke were arrested earlier and are being held by police.
According to the Senarathna’s lawyer, Gunaratna Wanninayakem, an opposition lawmaker was arrested at a private hospital where he was admitted on Thursday. Thus, a magistrate has approved Senarathna’s detention until Monday for investigation.
Wannianayake insists Senarathna should be kept under guard at the hospital because he underwent heart surgery recently.
Since November, when the current President took office, two opposition lawmakers arrested for criticism of his regime. Former Cabinet minister Patali Champika Ranawaka was arrested last week over a 2016 traffic accident and was released on bail this week.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa was strongman for President and brother
Being the top defence official in his brother’s government from 2005 to 2015, Rajapaksa has been accused of overseeing the abductions. the victims said they were tortured, many of them never returned to their families. President’s brother has denied the allegation.
Both Senarathna and Ranawaka were Cabinet members in the government of Rajapaksa’s brother, ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa. They defected on the eve of a 2015 presidential election, triggering the fall of that government.
Sri Lankan Attorney General issued an order to police on Tuesday to obtain a warrant for Mr Senarathna’s arrest over a Nov. 10, 2019, news conference during the campaign for the most recent presidential election, which Gotabaya Rajapaksa won by a comfortable margin.