AG calls for arrest of Kurunegala Mayor

Attorney General (AG) Dappula de Livera today instructed Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP) C.D. Wickremeratne to obtain a warrant from Court, arrest and produce the Kurunegala Mayor, Municipal Commissioner and three others.

The Coordinating Officer to the AG State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne said the order was issued over the destruction of a building with historical value in Kurunegala in July.

Warrants have been requested against Mayor of Kurunegala Thushara Sanjeeva Witharana, Municipal Commissioner Nishantha Thilakaratne, Municipal Engineer Chaminda Bandara Adikari, Acting Director for the removal of illegal constructions Ilaludeen Zulfika, and operator of the Bako machine used for the demolition Lakshman Priyantha.

The National Building Research Organization in its report has estimated Rs. 7.2 million in damages, Rs.13.6 million for the restoration of the building, and a loss of Rs. 20 million incurred by the Government.

Facts presented in Courts have revealed that the Mayor of Kurunegala Thushara Snjeeva Witharana and Municipal Commissioner Nishantha Thilakaratne were repeatedly informed on the value of the historical building by the Department of Archaeology on previous occasions, she said.

The King’s Court of King Bhuvanaikabahu II in Kurunegala was allegedly demolished on 18 July by the Mayor of Kurunegala and officials from the Urban Development Authority disregarding the warnings of the Archaeology Department.

Nishara Jayaratne further said that investigations have established that the site has been registered as a public property under the state and the demolition was illegal.

It was further ascertained that the 13th Century King’s Court (dating back to the Kurunegala / Yapahuwa Kingdom Era) falls under the supervision of the Department of Archaeology, she added.

Following the demolition, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed a 5 member expert committee, headed by Director-General of Archaeology Professor Senarath Dissanayake, on the advice of the Secretary to the Ministry of Buddhasasana and Cultural Affairs to investigate the incident.

The preliminary report of the committee appointed to investigate the demolition was handed over to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on 22 July, consisting of five proposals, including to institute legal action against those responsible for the demolition.

Thereafter, Attorney General (AG) Dappula de Livera obtained an order from the Kurunegala Magistrate’s Court against the Deputy Mayor of Kurunegala, Municipal Councillors, Commissioner, and Municipal Council staff and their representatives to protect and prevent access to the site of the demolished building.

Attorney General Dappula de Livera also advised Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP) C.D.Wickremeratne to complete investigations into the incident by 31 July. 

A writ application too was filed at the Court of Appeal seeking the arrest of the Mayor of Kurunegala over the demolition.

The Kurunegala Mayor was also ordered by the Kurunegala Magistrate’s Court to handover all files pertaining to the destructed site to the custody of Court. (Colombo Gazette)