Ceylinco Consolidated Chief, Lalith Kotelawala is demanding Rs. 1 billion as damages from UPFA Campaign Manager for Premier Mahinda Rajapakse, Minister Mangala Samaraweera for allegedly defamatory statements made at a press conference on Thursday (10).
Mr. Kotelawala sent his letter of demand to the Minister through his lawyer Thushari Weerasinghe yesterday.
A media release from Ceylinco Consolidated said that the letter had been sent demanding from the Minister damages for a statement made at the penultimate campaign news conference of the United Peoples Freedom Alliance which was published in the Daily Mirror of November 11, 2005.
Mr. Samaraweera had stated that Mr. Kotelawala is attempting to create racial and religious tension in the country, by portraying the Prime Minister as a Candidate advocating religious and ethnic chauvinism.
In his letter of demand, Mr. Kotelawala says that he had at all times been an Ambassador for Peace, and a constant advocate for racial equality and religious freedom who himself had been a victim of racial violence.
He has stated that Mr. Samaraweera`s statement had caused an impression among the general public that Kotelawala is a person who creates racial and religious tension in the country.
Further Mr. Kotelawala stated that he is a successful entrepreneur and a citizen held in high esteem in Society. In the said statement he had been reflected as a person who resorted to cheap tactics and thereby caused severe damage to his reputation.
In the circumstances Mr. Kotelawala said that the statement made by Mr. Samaraweera is false and atrocious.
The allegation had also been made with the intention to defame, ruin, ridicule and to humiliate his unblemished character as a person and a humanitarian who believes in the rights of people and as a businessman heading over 200 companies with a work force of over 30,000.
In the circumstances Mr. Kotelawala has demanded Rs. 1 billion damages within 14 days from the date of the letter demand.
Mr. Kotelawala had further stated that in the event of the failure to pay the said sum within 14 days he would institute legal proceedings against Mr. Samaraweera.
The claim would then be for the recovery of the sum together with interest and cost of suit.