SRILANKAN NEWS

Hoole writes to President over attempt to arrest him

National Election Commission member Ratnajeevan Hoole has written to President Maithripala Sirisena over an attempt made by the Police to arrest him using a recalled warrant.

In the letter Hoole says the Police went to his house in Jaffna with a warrant for his arrest and the incident attracted much public attention.

“They know who I am. There is even a (long-forgotten) sign up book at my gate for police patrols from when I joined the Commission. My house is in front of the Department of Education, a church, and a Government school besides being next to a church school. The incident attracted much public attention – I feel that the Election Commission is being demeaned by publicly making out that I am a criminal. After all, how can a criminal be responsible for elections? The incident has evoked much fear in me on whether the Election Commission can be independent and in my wife and children on whether we can be safe in Sri Lanka,” he said.

Hoole says the Police purported to act on an old 2011 warrant when a Minister of the then Government, Douglas Devananda, filed false criminal charges against him in retaliation for reporting election irregularities of the then Government in July 2011.

“This included the harassment of opposition candidates, police jeeps going about without number plates, and the President’s double life-size poster placed inside polling stations in Kayts. It was falsely alleged that I aggravated Government supporters and thereby instigated a riot. Hence the charges were criminal charges. I was served with summons in the form of a letter; however, in the letter my name was misspelt and the legal procedures had not been accurately followed. I was advised by different lawyers to flee because the said summons were not proper and because they feared the culture of political fomented in Kayts by the then Government. Flee I did, and the open warrant was issued,” he said.

Hoole returned to Sri Lanka on 26 August 2015 as soon as the new Government was elected and went straight from the airport to the court in Kayts.

“I was released on bail with my brother and daughter standing surety, and the warrant was recalled. The Kayts OIC issued me a letter saying that the warrant was recalled,” he said.

Hoole says when armed policemen attempted to arrest him last week he had contacted the Election Commission, Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya who had later contacted police headquarters and in turn the Police DIG North. The Police officers later withdrew.