UN experts took bribes from LTTE supporters – SL minister

[TamilNet, Thursday, 21 April 2011, 15:05 GMT]
Sri Lanka’s minister for Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities, Wimal Weerawansa, accused the independent experts who authored a UN report on war crimes during the final months of Sri Lanka’s war, of having taken bribes from the Tamil Diaspora. His comments were reported in the state-run Daily News Thursday. Sinhala ultra-nationalist firebrand Weerawansa last July famously staged a fast-unto-death in front of the UN building in Colombo in response to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s appointment of the panel.

“They have become puppets of the LTTE,” Weerawansa is quoted as having said of the three international experts. They had accepted “huge amounts” from LTTE supporters, he added.

The Minister questioned the rationale behind the UN panel's accusation that assassinating terrorist leaders can be considered as war crimes, the Daily News reported.

Weerawansa was a prominent leader of the Sinhala nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Perumana (JVP), which had been allied to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, including helping him win the Presidential elections in 2005.

However, Weerawansa and others split from the JVP when it chose to end its support for Rajapaksa. The rebels formed their own party which has remained allied to the President.

Weerawansa had been appointed Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities in Rajapaksa’s cabinet when he began his fast-unto-death in front of the UN building last July.

Following widespread criticism – but not from Rajapaksa or his cabinet colleagues - for embarrassing the country, Weerawansa resigned as minister to continue to his fast calling it off only after President Rajapaksa visited his protest podium to pledge the UN panel would be thwarted.

Weerawansa ceremoniously ended his death fast (‘farce’ as his detractors put it) by accepting a glass of water from the President.

He has since been reappointed minister for Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities.


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