'I had absolutely nothing to do with heroin'

13 December 2013 02:12 am - 37     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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In a fiery scandal which erupted recently, the Coordinating Secretary to the Minister of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs was alleged to have intervened to release a heroin container from the Customs. In the light of the scandal, Secretary Keerthi Sri Weerasinghe had tendered his resignation to Prime Minister and Minister of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs D.M. Jayaratne.

However, he said in his resignation letter that he had no connection whatsoever with the alleged incident of importing heroin or releasing a heroin container from the Customs.

Daily Mirror spoke to Mr. Weerasinghe regarding the allegations:

Q: Mr. Weerasinghe, you have been accused of attempting to assist a heroin haul. Is there any truth to this?

I must tell you frankly that I was never involved in a heroin haul. The media has reported that I issued a letter to the Customs asking for the cargo to be cleared. However, that is false. I or the Prime Minister’s office has never issued such a letter. Tharanga Vittachi, Gampola Urban Councillor asked for a letter, requesting the demurrage cost for a shipment to be waived. By that time the container had been at the port for two-and-a-half months so I issued a letter to a private company called South Asia Gateway Terminals (Pvt) Ltd., requesting them to reduce the demurrage cost. I emphasize that I never issued a letter to customs, requesting them to forego their checking procedure or to clear the cargo.

Q: Didn’t you know at the time that the cargo contained a container of heroin?

I was not aware of the container carrying any drugs. I was told that the shipment consisted of plastic ware and ceramics. If I had the slightest idea of anything suspicious, I would have informed the police about it.
My intention was to help out the common people of the country, which is our duty. Issuing letters to people for various requests in order to serve their needs is a common practice carried out by the PM’s office. In my time, I would have issued thousands of such letters.
However, I never wanted to in any way assist drugs to be brought into the country.  

Q: Shouldn’t you have checked the contents of the shipment before issuing such a letter?

Practically, how can I check into each and every detail of each and every request made to me? It is not possible. If someone comes to me asking for money to buy medicines, it is not possible for me to check and make sure whether he actually has a disease. In the same way, I couldn’t have personally checked the container myself. Furthermore, we get hundreds of requests every single day and it is not practical to investigate each and every one of them. They declared that the shipment contained plastics and ceramics and that is why I issued the letter.
However, I never attempted to influence the customs not to check the container.

Q: Did the Urban Councillor who requested the letter know that the cargo contained heroin?

To my knowledge, he was not aware of the heroin in the shipment either.

Q: To clarify, did you issue the letter and sign it? If so, was the PM aware of it?

Yes I issued the letter and I signed it myself. The PM was not aware of it at the time but I told informed him about it once this issue surfaced.

Q: Do you take any responsibility for what has happened?
 
No neither I nor the PM are responsible for this. I resigned in order to respect the government and to assist them in the inquiry - not because I was guilty. I have not done anything wrong with regard to this matter. I think the people who are responsible have been arrested.

Q: How is the situation affecting you and the PM?

Legally, it is not a problem for me. The problem is the political issue. Some opponents are blowing this out of proportion and presenting false facts for their own political gains. (Shihara Maduwage)

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  Comments - 37

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  • Premalal Friday, 13 December 2013 09:48 AM

    Responsibility and accountability are two words which are not in the Sri-Lankan political vocabulary. They have been replaced by plunder and impunity.

    Vijith Pieterz Friday, 13 December 2013 01:30 PM

    Both you and DM Jayaratne (PM) should get out as you guys played a dirty game and trying to cheat everyone, but everything has come to light. No mercy guys both should go out.... feel sorry for the old man, but to see that he was the main culprit.

    Kiris Baba Amaray Friday, 13 December 2013 01:32 PM

    Hay, PM-Jayaratne, if you don't resign, we as a gang will put you out holding your neck, so before that please go to Gampola and rest at home.

    G.M. Jayawardenayawa Friday, 13 December 2013 01:45 PM

    They all are aware of the shipment and it must have been the practice to clear the drug shipments from the customs. If they are not brought to the justice it may not be fared to the other drug traffickers.

    Dictator Friday, 13 December 2013 05:56 AM

    it is really fishy, Secretary is from Ampara, PM represents Gampola and the suspect is also from Gampola. You judge the culprit.

    Daya Friday, 13 December 2013 11:03 PM

    His interview brings more questions than answers. Is it his duty to give hundreds of letters just because some one says so? Obviously many favours will bring kick backs? Doesn't this confirm that all processes according to the law are ignored because authorities simply follow the law of political criminals and their henchman? Across the government how many secretaries have given such letters and how many thousands of shipments escaped? Why can't they have robots if they can not take responsibility for their actions? Surely, the people mentioned in the letter should be connected to the crime. Have they been arrested with this secretary? When the law says drug peddling carries a death penalty, why no legal action against this man or his master?

    OMG Friday, 13 December 2013 06:04 AM

    Take it on BBS!!

    investigator Saturday, 14 December 2013 10:25 AM

    you have a lot of things to do with money.

    Kuma Friday, 13 December 2013 01:53 PM

    Buddhasasana ministry is involved in helping businessman. Is it the ministry of trade who is taking care of the temples and Buddhism ?
    When some one who has no idea what is in the container comes and tells the secretary to give a letter, he also has no idea but he gives a letter. How did he become a secretary. If I come and request such a letter would he give.

    UN-Drugdealer Sunday, 15 December 2013 01:24 AM

    This is what every criminal say after got caught to the Police. Our Police Department is smart enough to get the truth. But, I doubt if this will ever happen as PM too is involved.

    Aslam Sunday, 15 December 2013 02:06 PM

    Wonder of asia. Had I known I could get duty waiver letters (hundreds) I would have done many imports. Cheh. miss the bus. The secretary resigned.

    meranchi Friday, 13 December 2013 01:57 PM

    but you took your chunk.....i

    Niran Samarasekera Saturday, 14 December 2013 12:36 AM

    I have worked with and also been in contact with highly respected Secretaries like M D D Peiris and late Vincent Pandita who are/were people of the highest integrity. They would never have done corrupt things like approving duty waivers and demurrage reductions without knowing the actual contents of the container. This is purely an "excuse" letter to cover up for all the corrupt officials going right to the top. In any case they all benefit financially at the cost of the rate and tax payers and most importantly the increase in drug problems of the younger generation. NiranSam

    xlntgson Friday, 13 December 2013 06:34 AM

    Right to info clashes with oath of secrecy!

    Premalal Friday, 13 December 2013 02:37 AM

    This is shocking. How can duty be waived for favorites. How can the others compete. If a person tries to do something without knowing how to do it then it is his problem. In this case he is trying to gain out of his stupidity.

    Berty Friday, 13 December 2013 06:43 AM

    Koheadha yannae - Mallae Pol.

    What a Govt?? What a P>M?? What a Staet Secretary,

    ??????

    Sonali De Silva Friday, 13 December 2013 02:39 AM

    The contents of this container had nothing to do with the Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs. So why was he involved in something that did not concern his ministry? For him to request a reduction is fishy. This whole episode stinks.

    Mason Friday, 13 December 2013 02:11 PM

    The co-ordinating Secretary would not have issued a letter to a person from the PM's electorate unless the PM would have wanted it done. The Secretary is not from Gampola and therefore he would not have known the person requesting the letter. No one issues letters to every Tom, Dick and Harry. So, there is more to this episode than that meets the eye.
    The PM will have to come out with the truth and also resign his position.

    Gamini Friday, 13 December 2013 06:57 AM

    Exactly. You are always responsible for whatever you sign. This man gives a typical Sri Lankan excuse.

    Kiris Baba Amaray Friday, 13 December 2013 02:45 AM

    when you make a blunder admit the fault don't conn. Actually PM also should tender his resignation, this is the public verdict.

    Amarasekera Friday, 13 December 2013 07:05 AM

    This Govt. is destroying our country!

    Iranga Friday, 13 December 2013 02:46 AM

    How can you not be responsible ? If you sign and offer a letter you should be responsible for it. Otherwise we can have any clown in the post to just sign letter.

    raspi Friday, 13 December 2013 02:56 AM

    Banana republic. Most probably this will be forgotten very soon and he will get another post somewhere else.
    no point of talking about this

    Ranjith Silva Friday, 13 December 2013 11:04 AM

    Not only this letter. Its time to check other letters as well and all the past communications of thi person. Also his wealth to be tracked.

    Cobra Saturday, 14 December 2013 01:36 PM

    Thoththa baba, how much did you get for sending this letter?????

    Reverberates Friday, 13 December 2013 03:15 PM

    When a shipment is not cleared for months and had accrued interest does it not mean that there is something suspicious about it. A senior government says he blindly signs anything. Great man! The public have every right to know how many letters were issued by this good samaritan and how many thousands of containers with drugs have come into this country. Guys caught with or framed with few grams of heroine are sent to jail for months. These guys should be sent to jail for multiples of lifetimes, including the dishonourable big boss.

    secretary Friday, 13 December 2013 11:26 AM

    this is only a sample. all the secretaries to the government ministries are the same.

    s.deen Friday, 13 December 2013 03:56 PM

    Hello BBS supporter... you have to know that your BBS also will play the same game in the future.... as your BBS sectry did in past after having alchol and knock down the people on the road....

    Rushdi Friday, 13 December 2013 04:01 PM

    Mun okkoma hithan inne lankawe munge amma appa dunna boodale kiyala. Unta ona ona reddak karala unge saakku purawaganawa.... Lankawata thiyana lokuma henaya me deshapaaloowo... This terrorism is dangerous than one we defeated.....

    karu Friday, 13 December 2013 04:15 PM

    Very strange. This man says, he has issued thousands of such letters. That means he is above the normal laws of this country.
    The innocent tax payers are damn fools

    Tuan Nizam Saturday, 14 December 2013 04:07 PM

    It is funny this so called Secretary did not know how can a person residing in a Railway Quarters, open an import office.
    Has the Railway department given authority to open Private Business in Railway Quarters. From this question we can judge this secretary's position. This means anyone can get a letter from this secretary., irrespective of what you import. whether its Ethenol, Heroien, Cocain etc..........Wonder of Asia

    saman Friday, 13 December 2013 04:58 PM

    They are very silent

    gopalla Friday, 13 December 2013 08:35 AM

    i guess PM is not aware of your resignation. pls check with him

    Marianne Friday, 13 December 2013 05:12 PM

    If he were a woman, we could easily say... " What a heroine!"
    Indeed deserves such a title for all the " noble" work of helping someone to waiver duty... ah... only in the land of upgraded roads!

    LAN Friday, 13 December 2013 12:35 PM

    This is a well panned operation. Importer has kept the container purposefully without getting it released from customs. The importer , planned to get the letter from these crooked politician's secretaries they most of the time do these kind of things for perks. There are obvious lies. Any importer knows that after some times demur rages will be added. Why the waited two and half months? The importer wanted to pretend that they have no money to release the container. (so it would unlike be a rich drug dealer). This man and the other politician should be jailed for issuing a letter. Double standard of Sri Lanka police. Good work by SL customs.

    Namal Perera Friday, 13 December 2013 12:39 PM

    Try find a innocent person to blame. This is corrupt lawless Banana Republic with Jungle Law and this is how they conduct business.

    Dharme Friday, 13 December 2013 12:41 PM

    If you are innocent why did you resign? To save somebody's face may be!!! Your action does not go with the high position you were holding. Shame !!!


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