By S.S. Selvanayagam
The Court of Appeal yesterday (2) temporarily lifted the overseas travel ban imposed on former President’s Secretary Lalith Weeratunga from 20 March to 30 April.
The Bench comprising Justices P. Padman Surasena (President/CA) and Shiran Gooneratne made this order pursuant to the submission made by the Senior State Counsel that Attorney General had no objection on lifting the overseas travel ban on Weeratunga.
The Court directed the Registrar of the Appeal Court to convey this order forthwith to the Colombo High Court Judge to release Weeratunga’s passport.
In the revision application, Weeratunga, who was convicted of misappropriating Rs. 600 million of funds belonging to the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), had sought the Appeal Court’s jurisdiction to set aside the Colombo High Court’s 29 January decision to reject his request to go abroad.
High Court Judge Gihan Kulatunga, while rejecting the application to the High Court, had observed there is no legal basis to consider Weeratunga’s application, since a person convicted of an offence has no right to be presumed innocent.
The High Court Judge further observed that the accused’s request could not be considered as an urgent requirement since his request was not based on a medical requirement.
On 7 September 2017, Weeratunga and Former TRC Director General Anusha Palpita were found guilty of misappropriating funds worth Rs. 600 million belonging to the TRC in the controversial ‘sil redi’ (fabric used by Buddhist devotees when observing sil) distribution case.
Weeratunga had sought the Colombo High Court’s permission to travel to Doha, Qatar and Australia in the months of March and April.