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Basil to stay in Merchant Ward

Former Economic Development Minister, MP Basil Rajapaksa will continue to remain in the Merchant Ward, Colombo General Hospital as further treatment has been deemed necessary for his back problem, his lawyer Udaya Rohan de Silva said.

Basil Rajapaksa

Rajapaksa had slipped in the Remand Prison on the night of April 22, which aggravated his back pain for which he was undergoing treatment during the past few years, de Silva said.

"At the moment an orthopaedic specialist is treating my client. He has advised my client not to stand for a long time, until the problem is brought under control," he added.

However, the medical report by the Colombo Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) to the Kaduwela Magistrate has revealed that Basil Rajapaksa was not suffering from any illness. Referring to the JMO's report, de Silva said the JMO referred only to his heart condition, which was under control.

The accusations against Rajapaksa were based on complaints on the alleged misuse of 'Divi Neguma' funds. Police Spokesman ASP, Ruwan Gunasekara said four separate cases were being investigated. One investigation was on complaint number FCID/02A/15 made on February 28 on compensation and gratuity payments for Rs.1.73 million when the Divi Neguma project was converted into a Department.

The second was on the house renovation project under Divi Neguma - Rs.2.99 million - FCID/02B/15. The third was on allegations of printing the New Year almanac at a cost of Rs.29.4 million as part of the recent presidential election propaganda.

The fourth was on spending Rs.63.7 million on the Divi Neguma national convention during the election period.

De Silva said that compensation and gratuity payments cannot be categorised as using public funds as his client as the then Minister in charge only submitted a paper seeking Cabinet approval for the payments and monetary deposits by the Divi Neguma beneficiaries were not used for this purpose.

Police Spokesman, ASP Gunasekara said as Rajapaksa was arrested under the Public Property Act, the decision as to whether the offence is bailable or non-bailable is at the magistrates discretion.

Basil Rajapaksa was arrested on April 22 by the FCID and was produced before the Kaduwela Magistrate who remanded him till May 5.

The Former Secretary to the now defunct Ministry of Economic Development, Nihal Jayathilake, Former Divi Neguma Department Director General R.R.K. Ranawaka and the Additional Director General Bandula Thilakasiri were also taken in for questioning over misappropriation of funds. The four suspects were remanded until May 20. -DY

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