The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a media release claims that the former Ambassador to Russia and Ukraine Udayanga Weeratunga has been prevented from leaving the United Arab Emirates by authorities in that country.
Weeratunga, who has been evading a warrant of arrest issued on 20 October 2016 by a Colombo Magistrate, has to wait until UAE Police completes an investigation into Weeratunga’s status in view of intervention by Ministry officials.
Weeratunga earlier stated in a Facebook post that he had been questioned by UAE Police and released thereafter. The Ministry release claims that a legal hitch with respect to UAE law and rules governing the ‘blue notice’ issued by Interpol which has been alerted by Sri Lankan authorities to apprehend Weeratunga.
The full text of the media release is given below:
Mr. Udayanga Weeratunga, the former Ambassador to Russia and Ukraine had been evading a warrant of arrest issued on 20 October 2016 by a Colombo Magistrate, in relation to investigations pertaining to alleged embezzlement of public funds to the tune of 7.833 million US dollars with regard to procurement of MiG aircraft and money laundering. On the basis of a Blue Notice obtained by Interpol Sri Lanka on Mr. Weeratunga, Sri Lanka authorities has been working through mutual legal assistance with a number of countries to trace his whereabouts. He was intercepted in the UAE on Sunday 4th of February 2018 when he attempted to leave to the United States. This arrest was made on the basis of a ‘Blue Notice’ issued by the Interpol. The purpose of this notice was to trace and locate Mr. Weeratunga ‘as a person of interest in a criminal investigation’. However, as the law in the UAE and the rules governing Interpol ‘blue notice’ prevented the continued detention of Mr. Weeratunga, he had been released by the UAE authorities subsequently. And he presently remains in the UAE. The Police in the UAE are investigating this matter and Mr. Weeratunga has been prevented from leaving the territory of the UAE until the conclusion of these investigations. In the meantime, the FCID, which is investigating the allegations and complaints against Mr. Weeratunga in Sri Lanka, are working with the Interpol in Abu Dhabi on this case. The Sri Lankan Embassy in Abu Dhabi has also retained Lawyers in the UAE specializing in immigration matters to advice the Government of Sri Lanka on this matter. Moreover, a delegation of Sri Lankan officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Attorney General’s Department and the FCID are presently in the UAE having discussions with the concerned authorities in the UAE with the aim of having Mr. Weeratunga deported to Sri Lanka to answer the allegations leveled against him.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Law & Order