Obtain arrest warrant for Kurunegala Mayor
By Faadhila Thassim
Attorney General Dappula de Livera instructed the Acting Inspector General of Police Chandana D. Wickramaratne to obtain a warrant for the arrest of Kurunegala Mayor Thushara Sanjeewa Vitharana and four others, over the demolition of a building with archaeological value in Kurunegala, named ‘Buwaneka Hotel’.
Vitharana and four others attached to the Kurunegala Municipal Council, namely Commissioner Pradeep Nishantha Thilekeratne, Engineer Chaminda Bandara, Work Superintendent Ilaludeen Zulfikar and Backhoe Machine Operator Lakshman Priyantha will thereby be charged under Sections 15(b) and Section 31 of the Antiquities Ordinance and Section 408 of the Penal Code.
The Coordinating Officer to the AG, State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne said that although Vitharana had stated that the building is not an ancient monument, there is enough documentation to prove that he had knowledge that the building was in fact an ancient monument.
She added that the Director General of the Department of Archeology had confirmed that this building was an ancient monument.
The Department of Archaeology had on several instances written to Vitharana stating that this building has to be protected for its archeological value and had also obtained the permission of the Kurunegala MC to draw up a plan for the protection of the building, she added.
Vitharana had also stated that the building collapsed due to natural calamities, but the National Building Research Organisation (NBRO) in its expert opinion stated that it had been a case of purposeful destruction and that no natural calamity had taken place, she noted.
The NBRO had also stated that there has been an estimated loss of Rs 7.3 million due to the demolition of the building and an estimated loss of Rs 20 million to the Government while it would cost an estimated Rs 13.7 million for reconstruction.
Jayaratne noted that as a result, the AG had instructed the Acting IGP to obtain a arrest warrant from Court as there was sufficient evidence in this connection and to thereafter produce the suspects before the Kurunegala Magistrate’s Court today (7).
She further added that an officer will represent the AG at the Kurunegala Magistrate’s Court and that the AG himself in accordance with the powers vested in him under Section 393(2) of the Penal Code, had offered to assist the Police in this matter.