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Sunday, 19 June 2016

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Treaty with Ukraine:

Udayanga Weeratunga arrest imminent

With the Cabinet giving its nod for a Treaty with Ukraine on the extradition of criminals, Sri Lankan law enforcement authorities have fast-tracked its operation to arrest former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia, Udayanga Weeratunga, who is currently hiding in Ukraine.

Top government sources said Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera would fly to Ukraine next week to sign the Treaty. Foreign Ministry sources said the Treaty would come into effect after the signing of the Agreement on June 27.

Government sources told the Sunday Observer that Weeratunga, who is wanted by Police over the controversial MIG deal and several other allegations, had allegedly been spotted with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa during the latter's recent tour to Japan.

When contacted by the Sunday Observer, however, none of the members of the pro-Rajapaksa group confirmed Weeratunga's presence in Japan.

Weeratunga also met Rajapaksa in Thailand when the former President visited the country in April, this year. After his meeting with the latter, Weeratunga released a statement to the Media admitting that he was living in Ukraine.

Despite multiple investigations into the former diplomat, the government was not in a position to ensure his arrest as there was no mechanism to extradite criminals between Sri Lanka and Ukraine.

Weeratunga, a nephew of Rajapaksa, was the longest serving Sri Lankan ambassador to Russia, one of the most strategically important diplomatic missions of the Foreign Ministry.

The Cabinet paper with regard to the Treaty was submitted at the last Cabinet meeting by President Maithripala Sirisena, in his capacity as Minister of Defence. Cabinet ministers unanimously approved the paper on Tuesday morning.

The Cabinet paper said the Treaty would provide the opportunity to request the authorities in Ukraine to receive criminals who have engaged in illegal activities in this country and sought protection in Ukraine.

(RJ)

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