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Weeratunga prevented from leaving UAE - Ministry

The Foreign Affairs Ministry in a statement yesterday said that former Sri Lankan Ambassador in Moscow Udayanga Weeratunga, who had been detained by United Arab Emirates authorities, has been prevented from leaving the United Arab Emirates .

Weeratunga was evading arrest warrant against him in relation to investigations pertaining to alleged embezzlement of public funds to the tune of 7.833 million US dollars with regard to procurement of MiG aircraft and money laundering.

The statement said, a Sri Lankan delegation of Sri Lankan officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, are presently in the UAE having discussions with the concerned authorities in the UAE with the aim of having Weeratunga deported to Sri Lanka to answer the allegations levelled against him.

The full statement is as follows: Udayanga Weeratunga, the former Ambassador to Russia and Ukraine had been evading a warrant of arrest issued on October 20,2016 by a Colombo Magistrate, in relation to investigations pertaining to alleged embezzlement of public funds to the tune of 7.833 million US dollars with regard to procurement of MiG aircraft and money laundering.

On the basis of a Blue Notice obtained by Interpol Sri Lanka on Mr. Weeratunga, Sri Lanka authorities had been working through mutual legal assistance with a number of countries to trace his whereabouts.

He was intercepted in the UAE on Sunday February 4, 2018 when he attempted to leave to the United States.This arrest was made on the basis of a ‘Blue Notice’ issued by the Interpol. The purpose of this notice was to trace and locate Weeratunga ‘as a person of interest in a criminal investigation’. However, as the law in the UAE and the rules governing Interpol ‘blue notice’prevented the continued detention of Mr. Weeratunga. He had been released by the UAE authorities subsequently. And he presently remains in the UAE.

The Police in the UAE are investigating this matter and Mr. Weeratunga has been prevented from leaving the territory of the UAE until the conclusion of these investigations. In the meantime, the FCID, which is investigating the allegations and complaints against Mr. Weeratunga in Sri Lanka, are working with the Interpol in Abu Dhabi on this case.

The Sri Lankan Embassy in Abu Dhabi has also retained Lawyers in the UAE specialising in immigration matters to advice the Government of Sri Lanka on this matter.

Moreover, a delegation of Sri Lankan officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Attorney General’s Department and the FCID are presently in the UAE having discussions with the concerned authorities in the UAE with the aim of having Mr. Weeratunga deported to Sri Lanka to answer the allegations levelled against him.