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Ali Sabri Raheem smuggling issue: MPs ask Speaker to act against violating P’ment privileges

Ali Sabri Raheem smuggling issue: MPs ask Speaker to act against violating P’ment privileges

2 days ago | BY Buddhika Samaraweera

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  • Fmr. Speaker Karu backs action regardless of status

A group of Parliamentarians have requested the Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana to take strict action against Puttalam District Muslim National Alliance MP Ali Sabri Raheem, who was arrested at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in Katunayake for having smuggled a consignment of gold and mobile phones worth Rs. 70 million to Sri Lanka, and was later fined and released.

The Customs officials on duty at the BIA had impounded a total of 3.5 kilograms of undeclared gold jewellery and biscuits and mobile phones from the possession of the MP, who was returning to the Island from overseas on Tuesday (23).

In a letter which was handed over to Abeywardana yesterday (25), Opposition and Samagi Jana Balawegaya Leader Sajith Premadasa and 20 MPs have said that the concerned MP has used his Parliamentary privileges and diplomatic passport to smuggle gold and mobile phones through the Very Important Person (VIP) terminal of the BIA. The MPs said that the Code of Ethics for MPs passed in 2008 has been completely violated by the MP. It further states that it has been reported that the Customs has confiscated all the goods brought by the MP, and imposed a fine of Rs. 7.5 million, but that the Parliament should also take strict action on Raheem's act of misusing Parliamentary privileges.

“The MPs representing the Government who support the adoption of the Bills and laws brought by the Government, violating them will damage the confidence of the public in all MPs. Even the people may not obey the laws in the future due to such incidents,” the letter read.

The Speaker's Office was not available for comment.

Meanwhile, former Speaker and incumbent National Movement for Social Justice Chairman, Karu Jayasuriya, in a statement issued yesterday, said that he is shocked that a MP has been arrested for having smuggled gold and mobile phones. “A person known as an ‘honourable MP’ having smuggled the said items using the VIP terminal reflects one small aspect of the corrupt actions of those who are considered to be elite. The responsible parties should pay close attention to this matter. We expect that the law will be implemented against the person who has been accused, regardless of their rank,” he said. 

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