The Sri Lankan government has rejected news reports stating the country's Criminal Investigation Department (CID) was looking to arrest the chief of defence staff, Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne over his alleged involvement in helping the main suspect of a disappearance case evade arrest.
“He was only requested to make a statement regarding the allegations against him,” Director General of the Government Information Sudarshana Gunawardena, was quoted by the state-owned Daily News site as saying.
“Some of the print and electronic media, saying that a high ranking figure of a security force is to be arrested, was apparently providing publicity to the opinion of the Opposition that the government was on a mission to hunt war heroes."
His statements come as the Sri Lankan president put increasing pressure on the police and other authorities not to take action against the military or armed forces in a way that would 'cause embarassment'.
On August 16 the CID told Colombo Fort chief magistrate, Lanka Jayaratne it had evidence that Wijegunaratne provided the former navy commander, Lieutenant Commander Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi alias 'Navy Sampath' with Rs. 500,000 in order for him to skip bail and escape arrest.
“There is evidence against Admiral Wijegunaratne’s role in allowing the accused to evade arrest,” the CID was quoted by AFP as saying to the magistrate, who responded by immediately instructing the Bank of Ceylon to release records of the the navy's accounts from March to May 2017.
Lieutenant Commander Hettiarachchi was arrested this month over his involvement in the abduction of eleven Tamil youth from 2008 to 2009, who were held in navy bases at Trincomalee and Colombo before being murdered.
Wijegunaratne was in 2016 filmed assaulting a journalist covering a story on Hambantota port. Despite this Sirisena extended his service and promoted him to chief of defence staff.