National Freedom Front leader MP Wimal Weerawansa arrested for allegedly misusing 40 vehicles belonging to the State Engineering Corporation (SEC) while functioning as the Housing, Construction and Engineering Services Minister incurring a loss of Rs. 91 million to the government, was yesterday ordered to be further remanded till April 3 by Colombo Fort Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne. The Magistrate yesterday refused to release Wimal Weerawansa on bail citing that no exceptional circumstance surfaced before Court to release the suspect on bail.
Weerawansa was arrested by the FCID on January 10 under Public Property Act charges.
On January 24, the Magistrate refused to enlarge the former Minister on bail observing that the evidence presented before Court have proved that former Minister Weerawansa had intentionally given these vehicles to his close relatives and his party activists while they were not holding any position at the SEC.
The Magistrate further observed that it is apparent that the former Minister has intentionally and dishonestly misappropriated these vehicles by entrusting them to his close relatives and party activists.
Wimal Weerawansa had sought bail from Colombo High Court challenging the Fort Magistrate’s order to refuse bail and this bail revision application is to be taken up for order today.
The FCID conducting investigations into the alleged misuse of state vehicles had informed Court that Weerawansa had given his written and verbal approval to the commission to commit these offences while functioning as the Housing, Construction and Engineering Services Minister.
“These vehicles had been given to the SEC on a rental basis to carry out ministerial functions. However, the vehicles in question had been given to five relatives of the former minister, including his sister. Ten other vehicles were given to 10 officials of the Jathika Nidahas Peramuna and the other vehicles were given to his staff members who were not entitled to receive them,” the FCID had told Court.
The FCID alleged that Weerawansa had given these vehicles for the use of his close relatives and private staff members without Treasury approval during 2010 to 2015.
However, the defence had denied the allegations and informed Court that the FCID is conducting a politically motivated inquiry to punish the government’s political opponents. The FCID had filed a B report in Court against Weerawansa alleging that he misused 40 vehicles while functioning as the Housing, Construction and Engineering Services Minister incurring a loss of Rs. 91 million to the state.