Udayanga released, but prevented from leaving UAE - Govt

Udayanga released, but prevented from leaving UAE - Govt

February 9, 2018   08:07 pm

The Sri Lankan Government today confirmed that the country’s former Ambassador to Russia, Udayanga Weeratunga, has been released by the UAE authorities following his recent arrest, but pointed out that he has been prevented from leaving the territory of the UAE until the conclusion of investigations.

It also said that a delegation of Sri Lankan officials 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 leveled against him.

Weeratunga claimed yesterday that he has been released by Interpol and UAE authorities as there are no internationally leveled charges or a red notice against him. 

However, issuing a joint statement today (9), Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Law & Order stated that Mr. Weeratunga had been evading a warrant of arrest issued on 20 October 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 has been working through mutual legal assistance with a number of countries to trace his whereabouts,” it said. 

The former Ambassador to Russia and Ukraine was intercepted in the UAE on Sunday 4th of February 2018 when he attempted to leave to the United States. 

The statement said that this arrest was made on the basis of a ‘Blue Notice’ issued by the Interpol and that the purpose of this notice was to trace and locate Mr. 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,” it said. 

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 ministries said. 

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

“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 leveled against him.” 

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