Sri Lanka arrests ex-president’s son over graft charges

Yoshitha Rajapaksa among four detained after long probe into alleged financial offences linked to TV station.

Sri Lanka police arrest
Yoshitha is the second close relative of the former president to be arrested over graft charges r[AP]

Sri Lankan authorities have arrested a son of the country’s former president Mahinda Rajapaksa on a charge of money laundering, officials have said.

Yoshitha Rajapaksa, a navy officer, was detained on Saturday following months of investigations into alleged financial irregularities linked to his private television channel Carlton Sports Network (CSN), police said.

A court official said he was taken before a magistrate court in a suburb of the capital Colombo and remanded for two weeks.

He was among four arrested, including the CNS Chairman Rohan Weliwita and Nishantha Ranatunga, a younger brother of Sri Lanka’s prominent cricket captain Arjuna Ranatunga, local news reported.

Nisantha Ranatunga had been the chief executive of the CSN channel that secured broadcasting rights for all cricket matches.

The CSN station is accused of illegally using government equipment and vehicles for its daily operations and failing to pay billions of Sri Lankan rupees in taxes.

Yoshitha is the second relative of of former president Mahinda to be arrested for alleged offenses committed during his presidency.

A brother, who was a former government minister, was arrested in April last year and charged with misappropriating state funds.

Basil Rajapaksa, a former economic development minister, was arrested along with two senior officials who worked under him on charges related to fraud involving the construction of public housing.

Mahinda, who lost the election last year, has accused the new government of leading a witch hunt targeting his family.

Members of the Rajapaksa family had controlled nearly 70 percent of Sri Lanka’s national budget during the former president’s rule.

Maithripala Sirisena, the country’s current president, has vowed to investigate allegations that members of Rajapaksa’s family siphoned off billions of dollars from the country during his nearly 10-year rule.

Source: News Agencies