First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa has come forward to safeguard the position of Director, Sri Lanka Navy (Engineering) Rear Admiral Mahesh Gunasekera (Gunasekera Nanayakkara Wijeratne Wickremasinghe Gunasekera Wasala Mudalilage Gamini Mahesh) who has been accused of committing a fraud amounting to several millions of rupees. The First Lady, who looks into affairs of the Navy, has come forward to safeguard this Rear Admiral following a request made by Minister Keheliya Rambukwella.
An internal investigation has proven that the said official had played out millions of rupees when procuring military equipment and other engineering equipment for the Navy. The officer has been charged on seven counts. It has been proposed that he be court martialed on four charges.
The Navy Commander has asked the officer to hand in his resignation letter and resign from the force. The Commander has said that he would stand to lose his position and face a jail term that is not less than seven years if the officer had to face a court martial.
Gunasekera has said that he would resign from the force if he is allowed to leave as a Rear Admiral. However, the Navy Commander has said it was not possible. The Commander has explained that he had served as a Rear Admiral post in the past two and a half years on a probationary basis and his careless actions have prevented him from being officially appointed to the post of rear Admiral. He would therefore have to resign as a Commodore.
Gunasekera had not agreed to the Navy Commander’s proposal and has asked for assistance from one his close relatives, Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella. The Minister had then requested for help from the First Lady. The President’s son, Navy officer Yoshitha Rajapaksa had also intervened in the matter. The First Lady had then directed the Defence Secretary to act in a manner that was fair to the Rear Admiral.
In this background, the Navy’s internal inquiry has been stopped and the Defence Secretary has appointed a three member committee consisting of members from the three armed forces to inquire into the matter. The committee is headed by senior Air Force officer Kolitha Gunasekera.
The disciplinary committee appointed by the Defence Secretary it is learnt has decided to exonerate Gunasekera.