Written by Zulfick Farzan
28 Sep, 2021 | 6:24 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st); The Criminal Investigations Department had summoned several Senior Journalists over a complaint made by Minister Bandula Gunawardena to the CID.
The Criminal Investigations Department had informed the Senior Journalists to be present at 09 AM on the 30th of September at Investigation Unit 02 of the CID.
However, Media Minister Dullas Alahappruma told the weekly Cabinet Media Briefing on Tuesday (28) that the Prime Minister had given instructions not to summon journalists who reported on the #GarlicScam to the Criminal Investigations Department.
Cabinet Spokesman & Minister of Media Dullas Alahapperuma said the government does not condone such actions, where journalists are summoned to the CID.
Alahapperuma said Minister of Trade Bandula Gunawardena had lodged a complaint with the CID pertaining to the incident.
He said however, Minister Gunawardena had not named or complained against any organization or an individual.
However, in his comment he said that it was reported to him that six journalists have been summoned to the CID including Lankadeepa Senior Journalist Siri Ranasinghe and The Island Senior Journalist Shamindra Ferdinando.
Minister Alahapperuma also said that the Minister of Public security – Sarath Weerasekara had assured that CID officers will not be sent to media institutions in this manner.
Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa has condemned the threats made to the media and media freedom.
The Leader of the Samagi Jana Balavegaya in a statement said the Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression is enshrined in the constitution, and in such a situation threats to the media are unacceptable.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the European Convention on Human Rights make it very clear that the right to freedom of speech and expression is the right of all, said Premadasa.
It is the responsibility of the media to expose corruption and fraud in the country, said the Opposition Leader who also emphasized that the CID has no right to summon the journalists who carry out that responsibility for questioning or to intimidate them.
Four employees at Lanka Sathosa Limited were sent on compulsory leave following the #GarlicScam expose’, which involved container loads of garlic being cleared from the Port and then sold illegally under the pretext of shipping them to Lanka Sathosa.
The #GarlicScam was tipped off by a Sathosa employee, revealed Rear Admiral (Retd) Ananda Peiris, the Chairman of Lanka Sathosa.
On the 09th of September 2021, the Consumer Affairs Authority carried out a surprise inspection on imported essential food items.
This raid took place following a tip from a Sathosa employee noting that an illegal transaction was taking place at the Sathosa warehouse in Welisara, where 56,000 kilograms of garlic were released without an invoice.
The #GarlicScam had taken place by using the provisions of the Cabinet Decision taken on the 07th of June to release goods held at ports to Lanka Sathosa.
A top-ranking officer at Lanka Sathosa who was arrested over the #GarlicScam was granted bail recently.
According to the Consumer Affairs Authority investigations, perpetrators had sold a kilogram of garlic to the businessman for Rs. 135/-, however, at that time the price per kilogram of garlic in the Lanka Sathosa Database was listed at Rs. 355/-.
56,000 kilograms of Garlic was sold off in such a manner.
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