The ongoing controversy over Justice Minister John Seneviratne stripping Lal Peiris of his JP post has taken a new turn with a senior policeman urging IGP Chandra Fernando to investigate the suspect`s claim that police made an attempt on his life outside Amarawathie restaurant in Kollupitiya.
STF Commandant DIG Nimal Lewke dismissed accusations that his officers targeted Peiris as he was leaving the restaurant with a policeman. Lewke said that on a Police Headquarters directive police commandos joined the battle against organized crime. `We support police operations targeting gangsters operating in Colombo and its suburbs,` he said. He emphasized that they were not engage in, what he termed as, target killings.
Peiris in an interview with our sister paper Irida Divaina claimed that STF made an attempt on his life. Peiris said that the Officer-in-Charge of the Kadawatha Police and Grama Sevaka of the area recommended a JP appointment for him. The OIC issued his letter of recommendation promptly. `The Grama Sevaka knows me. There are no allegations against me. People make wild allegations. If I do engage in unlawful activities I must be punished accordingly,` he said. He emphasized that there was not a single case against him and he had never been found guilty by a Court. He insisted that he had not been arrested for dealing in heroin.
He said that he was an ordinary man from Galle and he was the proprietor of Lal Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd situated on Welikada road. According to him Finance Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama gave him approval to set up an operation to accept foreign currency in Kandy. He also acknowledged that he lends money on interest and also offers money on title deeds.
Peiris revealed that he owned restaurants in Malaysia, London and Canada and expressed disappointment that his two children were embarrassed due to the unfounded allegations made against him. He claimed that he never assaulted anyone in his life but had been wrongly accused of being a gangster. `I have been compelled to take my life.`
Fielding questions, Peiris claimed that he was falsely implicated in a heroin case by a person identified as `Thelbala`. He dismissed the notion that he was only a supporter of Deputy Minister Mervyn Silva. According to him he worked for Sirisena Cooray recently appointed as UNP chief organizer for North Central Province, former PA MP Bharatha Lakshman and former UNP Minister Weerasinghe Mallimarachchi.
According to Peiris he obtained a licence to carry a pistol during the previous UNP administration as he was a businessman. Mervyn Silva recently defended his decision to recommend Peiris for a JP post. He pointed out that that former Law and Order Minister John Amaratunga issued the pistol licence to Peiris.
Amaratunga yesterday said that he could not remember issuing a licence to any particular person. The former Interior Minister said that gun licences were issued on the recommendation of the Government Agent and Police. And in the case of a businessman Amaratunga said that the ministry would review the applicant`s financial standing before taking a decision. Police headquarters said that Peiris was issued a gun licence during Amaratunga`s tenure as the Law and Order Minister. M. N. Junaid had been the Ministry Secretary at that time.