Controversies over head of operations of a recently raided restaurant
A popular restaurant was recently raided by Colombo Municipal Council Health Inspectors. The video footage of the raid quickly went viral in social media platforms for storing food items unsuitable for human consumption. Eagle-eyed Sri Lankans noted Andrew Anton, dressed in a pink shirt, in the video footage. General public claim he is strikingly similar to a wanted criminal in Canada. Anton is the Head of Operations in the leading restaurant chain.
Canada Wide Warrant
Official Twitter and Facebook pages of Ottawa Police Department (PD) have a wanted notice posted for a 33-year-old man by the name Andrew Anton since July 2015. The posts notify the public that a Canada Wide Warrant is issued against Anton for alleged sexual assault, sexual interference with a minor, distribution of child pornography and more.
A Canada Wide Warrant is a warrant of arrest or committal issued out of a superior court of criminal jurisdiction.
Concerned Sri Lankans have made comments on the Ottawa PD social media posts alerting Canadian authorities that the person they suspect is in Colombo, Sri Lanka and he is the same Andrew Anton seen in the viral video.
Ottawa Citizens paper in an article published in December 2016 under the heading ‘Ottawa’s most Wanted: Have You Seen These Men?’ has the same Andrew Anton in the social media posts of Ottawa PD listed as one of the most wanted men in Ottawa.
The Daily Mirror reached Ottawa PD to confirm the validity of the wanted notice. Staff Sergeant Cookson, assigned to the wanted Anton’s case, confirmed that Anton is still a wanted person for the crimes listed in the notice. She said Ottawa PD is aware of Anton’s presence in Sri Lanka. According to her, the nonexistence of an extradition treaty between Sri Lanka and Canada is preventing Canadian law enforcement authorities from bringing Anton to justice. “I just wish there’s something we could do, I don’t want that guy running around,” she added.
"Ottawa Citizens paper in an article published in December 2016 under the heading ‘Ottawa’s most Wanted: Have You Seen These Men?’ has the same Andrew Anton in the social media posts of Ottawa PD listed as one of the most wanted men in Ottawa"
Extradition Treaty with Canada
Additional Solicitor General Parinda Ranasinghe confirmed that Sri Lanka has not entered into a specific treaty with Canada, because both countries are covered by the Harare Scheme – the scheme relating to Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters within the Commenwealth, when the Daily Mirror reached for his expert opinion. Though Canada is a Commonwealth country, a provision in its domestic law is intercepting the acceptance of Sri Lanka as a treaty state. “They (Canada) have never requested extradition from Sri Lanka and neither have we (Sri Lanka). If they make a request, we have no problem because they happen to be a Commonwealth country. Our law does not prevent extraditing Sri Lankan nationals to foreign states,” he added.
“I am happy if there is a request from Canada,” he concluded.
Calorie Counter (CC)Founder and Managing Director Duaine Peiris issued a statement in the official Facebook page of the restaurant and referred to the incident in the viral video as an oversight in the disposal storage. However, he failed to address the presence of Anton in the video who is believed as a wanted person in Canada by the general public and his employment as the Head of Operations.
The Daily Mirror reached Pieris on the phone to confirm whether he is aware of the allegations against his Head of Operations. Pieris said, “if we can meet, then we can discuss. I rather not speak on the phone. This doesn’t have anything to do with our organisation,” Pieris explained. “There are lawyers working on this. There are certain things happening,” he further said adding, “so many people have contacted the Governments. Government to government can help out each other.”
"Prior to the video, Anton has made no attempt to maintain a low profile in Sri Lanka. In a news article published in one of the English newspapers in November 2018, Anton is introduced as the new CC Head of Operations"
This writer was guided by Pieris to the Nehemiah Consultants who handle public relations for CC to make an appointment with him.
Nehemiah Director Public Relations, Nishu Hassim turned down the request by the Daily Mirror to meet Pieris to obtain more information. “Duaine is not willing to talk to anybody about this issue because he is dealing with the other issues that have affected his brand.”According to Hassim, Anton was selected for the position based on his experience in marketing both locally and internationally. Speaking on behalf of her client, Hassim explained, “it would have been a company issue if these allegations were taken up and dated during his employment at CC. In this case whatever allegations against Andrew or whatever crimes he has committed haven’t happened during the period of employment at CC,” she explained. Hassim added that it is up to the authorities to pursue on allegations levelled against Anton and CC has dealt with the food safety concerns.
Both Pieris and Hassim expressed that they will cooperate with local law enforcement authorities if an investigation is carried out on the CC employee - Anton.
CC Head of Operations, Andrew Anton, was reached on the phone for his comments. When Daily Mirror questioned whether he is denying that the wanted Andrew Anton in Canada is himself, he responded: “First of all I don’t appreciate talking to me over the phone, the issues have been dealt with.” The Daily Mirror insisted that we were trying to learn his side of the story. When questioned whether he meant he has dealt with untrue stories as he claimed in his Facebook post or they are true and he has dealt with them (appropriately), he responded,“let me call you back” and ended the call. The Daily Mirror did not receive a call back from Anton. The reporter made several unsuccessful attempts to reach him thereafter.
Prior to the video, Anton has made no attempt to maintain a low profile in Sri Lanka. In a news article published in one of the English newspapers in November 2018, Anton is introduced as the new CC Head of Operations and is pictured in the same article. In other articles published in December 2018 in our sister newspaper Daily FT and January 2019 in another daily English newspaper he has explained the plans for CC’s expansion drive.
Anton, alias Dimitri Snacks on Facebook denies the news articles and stories. “There are untrue articles and stories about me that are being circulated on the internet. This has damaged my reputation and family. We ask that you please keep me in your prayers, and we are working with all appropriate parties to correct this” he wrote in a post he shared on March 13.
Sri Lanka Immigration Boarder Control System
The Daily Mirror reached Information Officer, M. L. D. Niroshana of Controller - Visa and Border Control on the phone to clarify whether it was possible for someone who is wanted in another country to enter Sri Lanka without being flagged in the immigration systems. According to him, unless an Interpol Red Notice is issued against the person, Sri Lanka immigration and Border Control system will not indicate he is wanted in another country.
A Red Notice is an international wanted person notice, but it is not an arrest warrant. They are published by Interpol at the request of a member country. Sri Lanka Immigration is linked real time with Interpol database systems. Ottawa PD confirmed that Andrew Anton’s name is not in any Interpol wanted list.