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Wimal remanded till Jan 24

Fort Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne yesterday ordered Member of Parliament NFF Leader Wimal Weerawansa to be remanded until 24 January after he was arrested and produced before the Fort Magistrate's Court on charges of alleged misuse of State vehicles and causing a total loss of Rs 90 million during the tenure of the former Government.

In addition to MP Weerawansa, the former Deputy General Manager of the State Engineering Corporation (SEC) Samantha Lokuhannadige was also ordered to be remanded until the same date.

This comes in a sequel to a case filed against the two suspects alleging misuse of State vehicles and causing a financial loss to the State. They were arrested by the FCID and produced before the Fort Magistrate last morning.

The FCID making submissions to Court stated that suspect Wimal Weerawansa, when he was functioning as the Minister of Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities in 2014, had obtained 40 vehicles which he was not entitled to and had allegedly allowed the two sons of his elder brother and six of his relatives to use the same vehicles and in the process causing a loss of Rs 90 million to the State.

The FCID informed Court that the suspect had also illegally misused a further three vehicles which had not belonged to his Ministry.

The FCID officers making submissions to Court stated that in the course of its probe into the case they had recorded statements from the 40 drivers who had driven the vehicles, the Private Secretary of the former Minister Dr. Amila and from the head of the Jana Sevana program which was initiated under the Ministry of Housing and Construction.

The FCID told Court that based on the statements given by the drivers it had come to light that none of the vehicles used by the former Minister had been used either for the Jana Sevana programme or for the needs of the SEC.

The FCID officers told Court that there was clear evidence, written and oral, to suggest that the former Minister had blatantly misused State vehicles during his tenure in office.

President's Counsel Jayantha Weerasinghe and Shavindra Fernando, appearing for the interest of the former Minister and the former Deputy GM of the SEC stated that both clients were not guilty of the charges preferred against them.

They told Court that since their clients are produced in Court then the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Construction and the former Chairman of the SEC must also be produced in Court.

They added that if the former Deputy GM of the SEC had misused vehicles during his term in office and caused a financial loss to the State then such an offence could have been probed by COPE.

PC Jayantha Weerasinghe informed Court that if the NFF MP Weerawansa is taken into custody, his daughter could suffer a mental breakdown and as she is preparing to sit the GCE Ordinary Level examination later this year, it could lead to severe consequences for the suspect's family and requested Court to release the suspect under a suitable bail condition.

PC Shavindra Fernando appearing for the second suspect Samantha Lokuhannadige told Court that his daughter too was suffering from a mental illness and urged the Court to grant bail to him under suitable terms deemed by the Court.

Having considered all submissions the Fort Magistrate Jayaratne put off bail consideration to 24 January and set that date for the next hearing.
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