Sooriyarachchi remand extended, attends parliament under escort

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 20 March 2007, 11:14 GMT]
Kaduwela Magistrate Tuesday ordered further remand for Sripathi Sooriyarachchi, parliamentarian of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), main constituent of the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government till March 27. The court further said it could consider application by Mr. Sooriyarachchi to attend parliamentary sittings during remand period, legal sources said. Accordingly, Mr Sooriarachchi attended the parliament under escort Tuesday afternoon. Opposition parliamentarians greeted him with applause when he entered the well of the House, sources said.

Mangala Samaraweera, another SLFP dissident parliamentarian was present in court when Sooriyarachchi was brought from remand.

Mr. Sooriyarachchi was arrested last week when he went to CID office in Colombo to make a statement regarding the alleged misuse of state vehicle after being sacked by President Mahinda Rajapakse in a cabinet reshuffle.

Meanwhile, the arrest of Sooriyarachchi created tension between government and opposition parliamentarians in parliament when it resumed its sittings Tuesday morning. Joseph Michael Perera, opposition chief whip on a point of order said that the arrest of Sooriyarachchi had breached the parliamentary special privilege right of a parliamentarian.

He said Sooriyarachchi was arrested and kept in remand to prevent him from moving a motion calling the Speaker to appoint a parliamentary select committee to probe the alleged secret deal between some members of the SLFP and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during the last presidential election.

Ranil Wickremasinghe, opposition leader demanded that Sripathi Sooriyarachchi should be brought to parliament. The arrest of Sooriyarachchi is tantamount to intimidating other parliamentarians, he said.

Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, government whip said arrest of Sooriyarachchi has not violated his parliamentary special privilege.

In the meantime, the Speaker W.J.M.Lokkubandara has put off the party leaders' meeting was to be held Tuesday for another day. The motion submitted by Sooriyarachchi calling for a parliamentary select committee to probe the alleged secret deal between some SLFP leaders and the LTTE was to be taken at Tuesday party leaders' meeting, sources said.



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