Sunday, 26 September 2021 12:38 GMT

Lankan Minister Lohan Ratwatte resigns after his questionable behaviour in two prisons became public


(MENAFN- NewsIn.Asia) Colombo, September 5: Lohan Ratwatte, State Minister of Prison Management and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation has tendered his resignation, acknowledging his responsibility for the incidents that took place at the Welikada and Anuradhapura Prison premises.

Ratwatte informed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa regarding his decision on Wednesday and the President accepted his resignation.

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Daily Mirror reported that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had earlier today informed State Minister of Prison Management, Lohan Ratwatte, to step down from his portfolio immediately, pending further investigations into allegations that he threatened prisoners at the Anuradhapura Prison on Sunday.

Rajapaksa who is presently in Italy, had telephoned Ratwatte and told him to step down and had then telephoned President Gotabaya Rajapaksa as well, the Daily Mirror learns.

The Prime Minister had called for a full-scale investigation into the allegations against Ratwatte and has asked him to step down immediately.

The Morning reported on Monday that Ratwatte had allegedly forcibly entered the Welikada Prison premises with a group of his friends whilst under the influence of liquor, had allegedly similarly entered the Anuradhapura Prison on Sunday (12) evening.

According to sources, the State Minister, who hails from an influential political family, had attempted to degrade and punish Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) suspects by ordering them at gunpoint to kneel down in front of him. It is learnt from the sources that he was under the influence of alcohol during this time as well, and that he had entered the Anuradhapura Prison premises in a helicopter.

Yesterday (14), Tamil National People's Front (TNPF) MP Gajen Ponnambalam published a post on his official Twitter handle, stating that his party could confirm that Ratwatte had entered the Anuradhapura Prison, summoned the Tamil political prisoners, and made two of them kneel before him at gunpoint, threatening to kill them on the spot.

On behalf of the TNPF, Ponnambalam called for Ratwatte's immediate resignation, and that he be stripped of all portfolios. The Tamil National Alliance followed suit, calling on the Government to immediately remove Ratwatte as State Minister and“have him arrested and charged after an immediate inquiry for allegedly threatening to kill prisoners in the Anuradhapura prison on Sunday”.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the said State Minister, who had allegedly entered the Welikada Prison premises by force last week, had allowed a group of his friends to visit and view the prison's gallows, and that among this group was a beauty pageant winner who made national headlines a couple of months ago.

According to sources, the said beauty pageant winner had driven the vehicle in which the group, including the State Minister, had come in. When the group tried to visit the gallows, prison officials had, according to the sources, requested that she not go past the cells where male prisoners are housed owing to her being a female.

However, the only route to the gallows is past the cells where male prisoners are housed, as per the sources. At this juncture, the State Minister and his inebriated friends had verbally abused the prison officers, stating that they should not stop her entry and subsequent passage.

According to the sources, the State Minister's friends had also been inebriated. Many of them, according to the sources, had also been dressed in short trousers (shorts).

“They were so drunk that some of them couldn't even stand straight and fell on the ground,” the sources claimed.

When contacted, Prisons Department Media Spokesman and Commissioner Chandana Ekanayaka claimed he knew nothing regarding these incidents.

Similarly, when contacted by The Morning, State Minister Lohan Ratwatte's Media Secretary said that there is no need to comment on these incidents since no such incidents as claimed by The Morning had occurred.

END

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