Minister Mervyn Silva yesterday said he was no cameraman and did not forcibly take the video camera of the Sirasa TV crew covering the flyover opening event on Monday.
He said this despite photographs appearing in the media showing the Minister seemingly attempting to remove a video camera of one of the Sirasa crew members.
Minister Silva however warned the private TV channel would have to face the consequences if it attempted to cover any event attended by him in the Kelaniya electorate and claimed the channel was not even invited to cover Monday s event.
I have warned them not to come and if they come without being invited they will have to face the consequences. They should know by now that they are not welcome for any future occasions, Minister Silva told the Daily Mirror.
However, Sirasa TV showed at least two invitations sent to it by the Ministry of Highways and the Government Information Department to cover the event.
When asked if he took the video cameras of the journalists Minister Silva said I am not a cameraman and I don t want a camera .
He further recalled that the UNP did not allow the ITN crew from covering its news conferences and in the same way it was his intention not to permit the Sirasa crew from covering functions in his electorate.
This is the second time Mr. Silva has harassed this particular television channel crew. They had also been harassed when they went to cover the opening of the first half of the flyover bridge several weeks ago. One of the cameramen had been hospitalised following the assault.
Two police teams were deployed to investigate the assault on a Sirasa TV cameraman allegedly by Minister Mervyin Silva and his supporters.
The incident took place when the television crew was covering the opening ceremony of the second lap of the Jeyaraj Fernandopulle flyover in Kelaniya on Monday evening.
Police media spokesman Ranjith Gunasekara said the Peliyagoda police had already recorded statements from eye witnesses. During the investigations police recovered the video camera allegedly plundered by the bodyguards who accompanied Minister Silva.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has reportedly reprimanded Non-Cabinet Minister of Labour Mervyn Silva for harassing the Sirasa TV crew who went to cover the opening of the Kelaniya flyover on Monday and grabbing their video cameras.
At the government s parliamentary group meeting on the same day, the President had severely warned Mr.Silva and asked him not to behave in such an unruly manner in future.
The President had also said that the image of the government would be diminished because of his misdeeds.