Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s 27-year-old son was arrested on Friday along with four others and remanded in custody for nearly two weeks on charges of money laundering, even as the ex-strongman accused the government of exacting “revenge” on him.
Yoshitha Rajapaksa, a navy lieutenant and the second son of Rajapaksa, was arrested and quizzed this morning by the police’s Financial Crimes Division (FCID) at the Sri Lankan Navy headquarters over his involvement in the management of a private television company, a navy spokesman said.
He and four others have been arrested on money laundering allegations, police said in a statement.
All the five accused were produced in the Kaduwela Magistrate Court and remanded to judicial custody till
February 11. Earlier, reports said he was remanded to custody till February 13 but later it emerged that he was sent to
judicial custody till February 11.
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his wife were also present in court as Yoshitha was sent to judicial custody.
Yoshitha is the first family member of Rajapaksa to be arrested after the former president’s younger brother Basil
Rajapaksa was remanded to custody in April last year.
The arrest of Basil, the former economic development minister, had come after Rajapaksa’s shock defeat at the hands of Sirisena in the polls last year.
Rajapaksa today accused his successor Sirisena’s government of exacting political “revenge” on him. “This is an
attempt to seek revenge.”
“This issue does not come under the money laundering Act. Our lawyers argued that,” Rajapaksa told reporters outside the court after his son was taken away in a prison van.
“The irony is that they have arrested the son of the man who ended terrorism. The money laundering act was brought into stop terrorists bring in money. I have full confidence in the judiciary, I am sure justice will be executed,” he said.
“I have no fear because I know my son had done nothing wrong,” he added.
Yoshitha was quizzed in connection with TV channel Carlton Sports Network (CSN) which had close links with the
CSN was controversially handed over Sri Lankan cricket’s television broadcast rights under the Rajapaksa regime. The broadcast rights had been the preserve of the state television until then.
Nishantha Ranatunga, who was CSN’s CEO, was also among those arrested. He was also the Secretary of the Cricket
Nishantha is the brother of the world cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga, who is a minister in the Sirisena
The Rajapaksa family has faced many accusations of corruption and abuse of power since Sirisena ended the former strongman’s 10-year rule. Sirisena’s coalition had pledged to bring to justice the perpetrators of large scale corruption in the Rajapaksa regime.