Misappropriation of Rs.600 M: Weeratunga-Palpita file appeals

Former Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and former Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) Director General Anusha Palpita who were sentenced to three-years-Rigorous Imprisonment by the Colombo High Court for misappropriating Rs. 600 million of funds belonging to TRC yesterday filed two appeal petitions challenging the judgment of Colombo High Court.

Two appeal petitions were filed before Colombo High Court’s registrar office and they are to be referred to the Court of Appeal in the due course.

On September 7, Lalith Weeratunga and Anusha Palpita were found guilty of misappropriating Rs.600 million of funds belonging to TRC over Controversial Sil Redi (fabrics used by devotees to observe Sil) distribution case.

Through their appeal applications, two accused-appellants stated that they were seeking the jurisdiction of Court of Appeal to review and set aside their conviction imposed by the High Court dated September 7.

In their petitions, the accused-appellants stated that neither a sum of Rs.600 million nor a part of it were utilised by them for their personal gain.

They further stated that the High Court judge had given them a short period of time (13 days) to pay off the compensation. These applications had been filed through Counsel Niroshan Siriwardena.

While handing out a lengthy judgment, High Court Judge Gihan Kulatunga had maintained that the prosecutors have proven the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

The High Court Judge further maintained that the accused had committed this offence dishonestly with the intention of gaining undue advantage for a particular candidate during the 2015-Presidential Election.l

While observing a political motivation had led the accused to commit this offence, Lalith Weeratunga and Anusha Palpita were ordered to pay a compensation of Rs.50 million each to the TRC in lieu of losses incurred contrary to the Telecommunication Act.

Each accused were further ordered to pay a fine of two million rupees and in default of the payment of fine they will have to serve additional one year imprisonment.

The Attorney General had filed indictments against former Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and former Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) Director General Anusha Palpita under three counts, in connection with a criminal misappropriation of Rs.600 million belonging to the TRC funds during the 2015-Presidential Election campaign. They were found guilty of all charges. 

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