by Ashanthi Warunasuriya
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa with former Minister Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman
A super luxury bullet proof vehicle, which was imported into Sri Lanka when Mahinda Rajapaksa was President, has now surfaced.
The vehicle was discovered a few days ago from a garage in Batticaloa. There was speculation that the vehicle had been hidden at the location. Since this vehicle had been purchased from public funds, it is a property of the state.
According to reports the vehicle had been given by the former President to former Minister Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman for his personal use. The value of the vehicle is said to be around Rs. 80 million. Accordingly the Police Financial Crimes Investigation Division has been tasked with investigating the import of the vehicle and its use.
When contacted, the Police media unit said the police have not received a complaint over the vehicle.
The Sunday Leader contacted the Batticaloa police station to get further information about the investigation, but the officer in charge was unavailable. The officer who responded however said that the investigations are being carried out by the FCID and that the Batticaloa police is not involved in it.
Although no official statement has been made by the FCID regarding the current status of the investigations, sources said that the vehicle is believed to have been used by Former Minister Muralitharan.
During the Rajapaksa regime there were several reports about importing of bullet proof vehicles into the country. Most of these vehicles belonged to the ‘Super Luxury’ class and were valued at millions of rupees. After the regime change some of these vehicles were found abandoned at random locations and the true ownership of these vehicles remained doubtful.
This vehicle has also been identified as unwanted expenditure of the previous government. According to FCID sources the investigators have been able to discover several documents inside the vehicle that had contained a letter sent to the former minister.According to reports, the officials have been instructed to brief top officials in the Defence Ministry on the outcome of the investigations.
The vehicle was discovered from a garage in Batticaloa and the owner of the garage and its employees have been interrogated by the FCID. They had claimed that they had no knowledge of its owner and that a person had left the vehicle in their garage for repairs but had never returned.
Although this comes under the offence of misusing of state property, so far the investigators have not been able to file charges against Karuna Amman.
After the arrival of the vehicle at the port, there is no clear documentary evidence as to what happened to it afterwards. It is thus clear that this vehicle had been imported into the country illegally. No tax or duty has been paid for this vehicle. Neither has it been registered at the RMV. No insurance policy has been obtained for the vehicle as well.
According to the documents that are available, it has been found that this vehicle had been imported under the Presidential Secretariat.Although the final conclusions of the investigations have not been made, according to sources former Minister Muralitharan is likely to be charged with the offence of misusing public property.