President Maithripala Sirisena Friday blamed the undue delay in prosecuting high profile criminal suspects of the former regime on inefficient state attorneys and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Speaking to local media heads in Colombo, Sirisena said he wanted indictments prepared by the attorney general’s department by a panel of independent legal experts, but Wickremesinghe had neglected to do so.

The dossier on former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa was completed just before Prime Minister Wickremesinghe visited India and the case was held up till his return, Sirisena said…

“I had told the Prime Minister that cases filed against these high profile individuals should be examined by (private) legal experts to make sure that there are no loopholes and that cases will not be thrown out… The prime Minister returned (from India), but he did not appoint the panel and that is that.”

Speaking to senior editors, the President made it clear that he feared that the Attorney General’s department could botch the cases against individuals such as Gotabaya Rajapaksa and wanted additional safeguards to ensure water-tight cases against the suspects.

He said in 2016 there was a time when Gotabaya Rajapaksa was about to be prosecuted, possibly within a week, but the move fell by the wayside.

There had been allegations that it was Sirisena himself who had blocked the investigations, a charge he has since denied.

Rajapaksa has sought court orders preventing his arrest in connection with several pending cases until a conclusion of a case he has filed challenging attempts to arrest him.

Rajapaksa has denied running death squads, but a report said the then head of military intelligence operated a killer squad and he reported to Gothabya Rajapaksa.

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