Maithri says he never said Rathana Thera took money
- Former President’s Media Secy. responds to The Morning’s query
- Rathana Thera maintains that Sirisena indirectly hinted at him
By Dinitha Rathnayake
Former President and Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Chairman Maithripala Sirisena yesterday (26) clarified that he never mentioned the name of Ven. Athureliya Rathana Thera as having taken money in exchange for working to obtain a presidential pardon for Royal Park murder convict Shramantha Jayamaha.
Speaking to The Morning, Sirisena’s Personal Secretary said the former President only said he felt someone took the money, and never alleged that Rathana Thera was this person.
However, speaking to The Morning, MP Ven. Athureliya Rathana Thera yesterday said that Sirisena had indirectly hinted that he (the Thera) had taken money, in the former President’s recent statement related to the presidential pardon.
“This was not something the former President did. The presidential pardon was not granted upon his request. It was requested by a panel of experts. I only went there to make a recommendation, but in his interview, the former President hints at me having taken money,” the Thera said.
Rathana Thera has filed a complaint with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) calling for an inquiry into the statement by Sirisena.
Jayamaha was sentenced to death for the murder of Yvonne Jonsson at the Royal Park Condominium complex in Rajagiriya in 2005. He was granted a presidential pardon by then-President Sirisena in 2019.
In an interview with the Derana 360 television programme, Sirisena said that an investigation had revealed that some person had taken money to ensure that a presidential pardon was granted to Jayamaha, while denying that he had taken any money himself for this purpose. The former President said that Rathana Thera had visited him along with the parents of Jayamaha on multiple occasions seeking the latter’s release, and that subsequent investigations had revealed that an exchange of money had occurred between the family of Jayamaha and some person.
“There were rumours that I had received Rs. 50 million, Rs. 50 billion, or even Rs. 80 billion to release Jaymamaha. I immediately instructed intelligence officers to investigate the matter. Officers from the Intelligence Unit found that someone had taken payment to ensure Shramantha’s release,” he said.
When inquired by the presenter if the people who took the money were the same ones who had been pursuing the presidential pardon, the former President said that this may have been the case.