UNP frontliners insist Ranil must remain as premier;
committee to study party reforms after April 5
When Udayanga Weeratunga, Sri Lanka’s former Ambassador to the Russian Federation, evading arrest despite a Red Notice issued by Interpol, walked into what was his apartment in Dubai last Monday, he did not realise there were some people waiting for him.Within moments, the Dubai Police which had mounted a surveillance operation for days swooped down on him. He was arrested and thereafter taken to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He is now being held in detention.When the news was formally conveyed to Senior DIG Ravi Waidyalankara, head of the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID), Police Chief Pujith Jayasundera and the new Law and Order Minister, Ranjith Madduma Bandara were promptly informed.Later, the FCID chief held consultations with Additional Solicitor General Yasantha Kodagoda, who has been assigned by President Maithripala Sirisena to coordinate the investigation into the procurement of MiG-27 fighter jets from Ukraine in 2006. Their immediate task was to lodge with the UAE Embassy in Colombo, through the Foreign Ministry, a formal request from the Government of Sri Lanka for the custody of 54-year-old Weeratunga. Sri Lanka’s envoy in UAE has also already conveyed a similar request in that emirate.Before becoming ambassador in Moscow, Weeratunga, a fluent speaker of the Russian language, operated a restaurant serving Sri Lankan cuisine in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. It was a popular haunt among Sri Lankan students and military teams that went on procurement missions. ‘Club Lanka’ as it was called, was perhaps the only restaurant that served Sri Lankan rice and curry. He was also importing tea and other goods to that country.The Government is not taking any chances, in the light of a previous effort going wrong, after Weeratunga was first taken into custody by the Dubai branch of Interpol when he arrived there on February 4 to board a connecting flight to Florida. The passport he used to enter Dubai, (D3643585) had by then been cancelled by the Controller of Immigration and Emigration. However, there was only an Interpol Blue Notice (or an alert) on him then. On February 12, the FCID obtained an Interpol Red Notice. This notice is an international alert to seek the location and arrest of a wanted person for the purpose of extradition.