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Sri Lanka jails top aide of former President Rajapakse

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  • In Sri Lanka, a top official who worked with former President Mahinda Rajapakse was sentenced to three years imprisonment on Thursday by Colombo high court in a corruption case.

    Lalith Weeratunga, then head of the civil service and Rajapakse's most senior aide, was also ordered to pay 50 million in damages for spending Rs. 600 million of state cash on Rajapakse's failed re-election bid in 2015.

    He was also found guilty of misappropriating money belonging to the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), which he chaired.

    The TRC director-general of the time Anusha Palpita was also jailed for three years for allowing its cash to be diverted to promote Rajapakse's election bid.

    High Court judge said the charges against the two accused have been proved beyond reasonable doubt. This is the first major prosecution after allegations that members of Rajapakse's family and officials siphoned off billions of dollars from the country during his nearly 10-year rule.

    The new president had promised to investigate those cases and was under pressure to act. Two of Rajapakse's three sons, including legislator Namal, have been charged with money laundering. Those cases are still pending.

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