Public hearing on ITN controversy postponed

Published : 9:13 am  October 16, 2015 | No comments so far |  |  (341) reads | 

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Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa is seen greeting those who were gathered at the BMICH as he leaves after appearing before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Serious Acts of Fraud, Corruption and Abuse of Power, State Resources and Privileges yesterday. 
Pic by Ishanka Sunimal 

By Ajith Siriwardana
The public hearing into the ITN controversy fixed for yesterday by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Serious Acts of Fraud, Corruption and Abuse of Power, State Resources and Privileges (PRECIFAC) was postponed for today.

The hearing was postponed after the lawyers representing former president Mahinda Rajapaksa raised four matters including the legality of PRECIFAC and the appointment of High Court judges to it.
Minister Susil Premajayantha said the investigations into the allegations would continue after the ruling on the points raised by Mr. Rajapaksa’s lawyers were revealed today.
Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who attended yesterday’s hearing, told the media that the advertising agencies had paid the monies owed to the ITN and that the party should be held responsible because it was the party which had selected agencies.
He said these allegations were being levelled against them as a means of taking political revenge and thus covering up the government’s failure.
“They act like we have done nothing for the county by giving the impression that they are the ones who have done everything. We are being attacked to cover up the government’s failure. They are betraying the security forces and so far four retired security forces’ commanders have been questioned up to now,” Mr. Rajapaksa said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Rajapaksa’s media secretary Rohan Welivita in a statement said Mr. Rajapaksa appeared before PRECIFAC in response to a letter sent to him over five allegations being currently investigated by it.
He said one of the matters under investigation was the appointment of Anura Siriwardene as the Chairman/CEO of Independent Television Network (ITN) at a time when there were no vacancies for that post.
Mr. Welivita said the appointment was not directly made by Mr. Rajapaksa but by the Treasury Secretary because the Treasury owned the majority of the shares of ITN and that the appointment had been made after the former Chairman had resigned.
Mr. Welivita said the second matter was about the non-payment of outstanding bills owed to the ITN. But the ITN in a letter dated January 27, 2015 claimed that the outstanding amounts had been settled by the Media Factory in full.
He said a financial loss of Rs.24 lakhs allegedly caused by an advertising firm known as ‘Special Solutions’ not paying its dues to ITN was the third matter under investigation. But in this instance too the outstanding amounts due to ITN had been paid by this advertising firm.

Untitled-5Mr. Rajapaksa’s media secretary Rohan Welivita in a statement said Mr. Rajapaksa appeared before PRECIFAC in response to a letter sent to him over five allegations being currently investigated by it.

 

The fourth was that the non-telecasting of the then presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena’s paid advertisements was an internal administrative matter of the ITN.
Mr. Welivita said all matters connected to the campaign advertisements were handled by the candidate’s political party or alliance and as such these matters were not the responsibility of the candidate but of the relevant political party or alliance.
Former ministers Keheliya Rambukwella, Dullas Allahapperuma  and MPs Dilum Amunugama, Prassanna Ranatunge, Udaya Gammanpila, Gamini Lokuge  and several others attended the hearing.