The National Election Commission has requested the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) to postpone investigations into former Ministers Rishad Bathiudeen and Ravi Karunanayake as they are candidates at the 5th August Parliamentary election.
Election Commission member S Ratnajeevan H Hoole said that there is legitimate suspicion of the reasons behind investigations which are commenced during elections and the Election Commission has asked for a postponement of the investigations until polling is over.
“Today, we see longstanding cases being dropped during elections. For example, a witness in a case concerning Tiran Alles dropped out citing the inability to give evidence using photocopies without explaining why it took so long to say that. Another example is the naming as a prime suspect of a JMO who died recently and closing the matter when there are others who did the actual killing of Wasim Thajudeen,” Hoole said in an email to Colombo Gazette.
He said that recognising the interference of these investigations in the electoral processes, the Commission has consistently asked for investigations to be postponed until any ongoing elections are concluded.
“It can be argued that the people have a right to know before electing their representatives. However, when it is a case that has been dormant for months and even years and is revived during elections, the reasons for that are obviously political and an intervention is urgent,” he said.
Hoole questioned the sudden interest in the investigation into former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen over the 21 April 2019 Easter Sunday attacks.
“After 15 months, why is this investigation being started as the polls are just 2 weeks away? After waiting 15 months why can the police not wait a mere two weeks more for the polls to be over?” he asked.
Hoole said the Commission wrote a strong, unanimously agreed letter to the IGP and asked for the postponement of the investigation until after the elections.
The Election Commission member said that Karunanayake had also received summons reviving the investigations into some alleged corruption on his part.
“As a pattern of heavy-handed police interference seemed to be emerging, at the party leaders meeting on 17 July the Commission raised the matter with the party leaders assembled. Several top ranking politicians were present, including Mr. Basil Rajapaksa. They unanimously agreed that the commission’s position was right. Immediately thereafter we wrote again to the police,” Hoole said.
However, he said that despite the letters sent to the Police, investigations are continuing and the former Ministers have been summoned to record statements. (Colombo Gazette)