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Demolition of King’s Court: Kurunegala Mayor challenges arrest warrant

3 years ago

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Demolition of King’s Court: Kurunegala Mayor challenges arrest warrant Mayor of Kurunegala Thushara Sanjeewa Witharana has filed a writ application before the Court of Appeal requesting the suspension of the arrest warrant issued on him by the Kurunegala Magistrate’s Court. The Kurunegala Magistrate on 6 August issued arrest warrants on the Kurunegala Mayor, the Municipal Commissioner, Engineer, and two others in the case filed over demolishing Buwaneka Hotel, a building of historical value in Kurunegala. The Attorney General (AG) had directed the Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP) to obtain warrants from court to arrest the said individuals. Three days later, on 10 August, the arrest warrants were re-issued by the Kurunegala Magistrate as the Kurunegala Police failed to execute the warrants previously issued for the arrests. The building in question, also known as Buwaneka Hotel, dates back to the 13th Century and is presumed to be the assembly hall used by the contemporary rulers. On 16 July, the Mayor of Kurunegala demolished the said building for a road development project. He stated that the Road Development Authority (RDA) gave its approval for the demolition. The Department of Archaeology then filed a complaint claiming that the building demolished by the Kurunegala Mayor is a 13th-Century King’s Court. This site of archaeological value has been listed under the provisions of the Antiquities Ordinance No. 9 of 1940. A five-member committee was then formed by the Secretary to the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Cultural, and Religious Affairs, under the directives of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, to look into the incident. In the meantime, AG Dappula de Livera, on 23 July, obtained an order from the Kurunegala Magistrate’s Court to protect and prevent access to the demolished historical building site pending investigations. The prevention order was issued against the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Kurunegala, Municipal Councillors, Municipal Commissioner, and Engineer – Municipal Council Staff, and their representatives. On 28 July, the Kurunegala Magistrate ordered the Mayor of Kurunegala to hand over all documents pertaining to the demolished building to the safe custody of the court. Furthermore, the Kurunegala Magistrate has called for all the documents and minutes of the City Development Committee from the Governor of the North Western Province.

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