The growing scandal over the smuggling of youth to Alaska through the office of the Sports Ministry took a sensational turn yesterday when the CID informed the Negombo Magistrate that evidence indicated the racket was carried out with the knowledge of Minister Jeevan Kumaratunga using his own personal staff.
The CID told court, investigations indicated that Minister Kumaratunga had told his staff there were 79 vacancies in Alaska and advised them to find prospective job seekers.
In its investigation report the CID told court that a suspect Indu Keerthi Sunil Dissanayake who worked for both the Sports Ministry and the National Youth Services Council in Maharagama claimed the racket was conducted with the knowledge of Minister Kumaratunga.
The CID also recovered from the suspect`s residence at Narahenpita road in Nawala, five files with illegal documents for sending people to Alaska.
?Minister Kumaratunga had instructed them not to charge more than Rs. 800,000 from an applicant?, the suspect Sunil Dissanayake told the CID.
Ten suspects who were arrested in connection with the racket were produced before Negombo Additional Magistrate D. Attygalla who ordered the suspects to be remanded till April 20.
The suspect Sunil Dissanayake in his statement to the CID claimed that the racket was handled by Ashoka Kotalawela and Prasanna Rajive of the Minister`s personal staff.
?They had earlier sent 19 people abroad from whom Rs. 6,500,000 was collected? the suspect told the CID. Officials of the National Youth Services Council Maharagama on being questioned revealed that the multi-million racket was operated from the Sports and Youth Affairs Ministry office and the lecture hall of the Ministry was used for meetings on the alleged illegal smuggling to America.
The CID had also questioned a large number of persons including some 30 victims of the alleged racket.