Wednesday, January 6, 2010

JVP given 24 hours to prove Fonseka is clean

by Saman Indrajith

The government gave the JVP 24 hours to prove that the common candidate of the Opposition, General (Retd) Sarath Fonseka had never been involved in corrupt arms deals, or accept the fact that the Marxist party was supporting a corrupt candidate.

Power Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said that General Fonseka had powers to carry out procurement of arms below Rs. 25 million.

As Chief of Defence staff, he was the Chairman of the tender board on procuring arms and ammunitions. The Minister tabled a document of arms purchases made by General Fonseka and invited JVP group leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake to read it. "We give you 24 hours, read these documents and decide whether the candidate you're supporting is corrupt or not. If you are honest, as you claim to be you must pull out support for Fonseka. If not, you too will be called a bunch of thieves," he said.

He challenged the opposition which, he said was, making allegations to the effect that President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brothers were involved in corrupt deals, to produce any documentary evidence. If it could do so, the entire Cabinet of ministers would resign forthwith, he said.

UNP Badulla District MP Lakshman Seneviratne said that the Opposition had received information that some Ministers of the government would be tabling some forged documents to sling mud at General Fonseka. "The question we have is why the government failed to bring them up earlier, while Fonseka was in their camp. We, too, have found all the relevant documents. The Hicorp International is a company registered in USA," he said.

"There is a Lankan company by the name Hicorp Private Ltd. These two companies are not connected. Why you did not produce these documents to the CID?"

JVP Kurunegala District MP Bimal Ratnayake reading from a Gazette notification said that the all powers of importing arms and military equipment to Sri Lanka was vested with the Defence Secretary. No other person could import any arms without his knowledge. Sri Lanka has not purchased even a needle from the Hicorp International company, said to be owned by the son-in-law of General Fonseka. If Sri Lanka had imported anything from this company he asked the government to prove it. Another company registered under the Defence Ministry had imported items such as batteries. That company had no connection or involvement of General Fonseka or his son-in-law. The son-in-law of General was in United States for the last 10 years. Son-in-law of General Fonseka, Danuna Tilakaratne, had registered his company in November 2005.

General Fonseka was not the commander of the Army or Mahinda Rajapaksa was not the President of this country. Dhanuna had not even married Fonseka's daughter at that time. The marriage took place in June, 2007.

Engineering Services and Construction Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said that there was clear evidence that Hicorp International had been given a number of contracts to supply equipment to the Sri Lanka Army, when Fonseka was the Commander of the Army. There was evidence that Fonseka had allowed to tender board to accept tenders from the son-in-law’s company after the closing date for tenders and awarded the tender to that company though its bid was higher than others, he said.

The National Procurement Agency, the authority on purchases, had stipulated that so the head of department should not sit on a tender board of he had any interest but Fonseka sat on the board purchasing arms and equipment.

The Minister said that he had documentary evidence of a forged transfer document to change ownership of that company. The signature of a person who was in Sri Lanka had been forged on the transfer document in the USA.

"He had made use of his position to as Army commander to make profits for his son-in-law living in the USA," he said. He tabled some documents.

Leader of the National Freedom Front MP Wimal Weerawansa also tabled several bills issued by the Hicorp International which he said would prove that the company had been engaged in supplying military material to the Army.

Later Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva tabled four invoices issued by the Hicorp International Company Ltd.

He said that the Hicorp Private Limited Company was a decoy company registered to cover the deals made by the Hicorp International Company.

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