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Sri Lanka bars Australian luxury hotelier in flag spat

24 December 2013 08:04 am - 6     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Sri Lankan authorities barred the Australian owner of one of the world's most exclusive hotels from returning to his adopted homeland Tuesday for flying the national flag upside down, officials said.

Geoffrey Dobbs, who is also the organiser of an international literary festival in the tourist city of Galle, was turned back at Colombo airport for the second time in five days, the officials said.

"He tried to enter the country this morning, but we did not allow it," U. G. Udowita, the head of immigration at Colombo airport, told AFP.

"He flew in from Bangkok on a Sri Lankan airlines flight and the airline will take him out in the next available flight back to Thailand."

Immigration sources said that Dobbs had also been turned back at the airport on Friday after flying in from Thailand.

Provincial governor Kumari Balasuriya said Dobbs had been blacklisted after flying four flags -- which each feature the image of a mythical lion -- upside down and at half mast near her home in Galle just before last month's Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka.

"Neighbors were very angry that he was insulting our country," Balasuriya told AFP.

"He is a very undesirable person and we have decided to blacklist him and prevent him from entering the country," she added.

Balasuriya said that Dobbs had deliberately flown the flags upside down after local workmen had accidentally inverted an Australian flag.

The British-born Dobbs, who is a former publisher, runs four luxury hotels in the Galle region where some rooms cost more than $2,000 a night.

His portfolio includes the private Taprobane Island, whose guests have included pop stars Sting and Kylie Minogue. It has been named one of the world's 50 most romantic locations by Conde Nast Traveler magazine.

Balasuriya denied allegations by the Sri Lankan opposition that the move to bar Dobbs was part of a strategy by the authorities to take control of money-spinning luxury hotels.

"He has a partner running his businesses and we have not tried to stop any of them," she said.

A former publisher, Dobbs has organised the Galle Literary Festival since 2007. The event has drawn writers such as the novelist Joanna Trollope, playwright Tom Stoppard and the children's author Michael Morpurgo.(AFP)
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  Comments - 6

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  • investigator Wednesday, 25 December 2013 05:46 AM

    allmost all sri lankans are doing the same,they are traitors to the country for doing crimes,drugs,rapes and all other crimes.what this man did was right.sri lanka flag is abusing by allmost all sri lankans,from labourer to president..

    dIREsTRAITS Friday, 27 December 2013 02:11 AM

    Serves the bugger right. It's not as if Australia has no skeletons in it's closet. Ask John Pilger about the aborigines. White aussies killed more aborigines than the natives in north America and the aborigines are treated worst of the worst in Australia and they have the audacity to preach to us. In anycase there is no excuse to discrete a flag of any country as it represents everyone including the good citizens of that country. If you must protest then do so intelligently. If not, go back to where you came from.

    Ramani Tuesday, 24 December 2013 10:57 AM

    How will Australian authorities react if a Sri Lankan does a similar thing in Australia?

    Sri Lankan Tuesday, 24 December 2013 11:30 AM

    SLimbabwe

    mohamed asfar Tuesday, 24 December 2013 08:43 AM

    no court order ? just blacklist a person like that ? who will invest in our country ?

    Leela Wednesday, 25 December 2013 04:26 AM

    Zimbabwe is a prowd country where people have their own values. So do we.


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