Sri Lanka's top police officer banned from travelling abroad over leaked phone calls

Colombo, Jan 8 (PTI) A top Sri Lankan police officer has been banned from travelling abroad after a leaked telephone conversation purported to be between him and a former minister revealed that he shared sensitive information with him.

Shani Abeysekera, former Director of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), was interdicted on Tuesday by Nugegoda Magistrate's Court based on information which surfaced in a telephone conversation between him and former minister Ranjan Ramanayake of the United National Party.

The police spokesman's office in a statement on Wednesday said that the phone conversation between Abeysekara and Ramanayake, now an Opposition lawmaker, had marred the police department's image.

The conversation centered on some of the police investigations against the powerful Rajapaksa family between 2005 and 2015.

The police had seized the tapes from Ramanayake’s house last weekend when he was arrested. He was accused of trying to influence investigators and judges.

The police commission ordered an investigations to be conducted against Abeysekera for breach of discipline. On Wednesday his passport was impounded by the court preventing his foreign travel.

Abeysekera was transferred out from his crime investigation police role to a province immediately after the presidential election held in November.

It was only last week that he had filed a fundamental rights petition in the Supreme Court to prevent his transfer.

Ramanayake’s voice recordings with top investigators including some of the judges have caused a political storm.

Namal Rajapaksa, the nephew of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said the tapes gave an insight into the kind of political pressure exerted by the Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe government during 2015-2019.

Most members of the Rajapaksa family and their close associates came under investigations for alleged wrongdoing during the Mahinda Rajapaksa presidency between 2005-15.

Ramanayake has defended his action to record conversations saying “although it may be unethical I have done that in good faith in my fight against corruption and wrongdoing”.

The police announced that there will be a full scale investigation on the tape recordings of conversations of Ramanayake with key personalities. PTI CORR PMS