By Chris Kamalendran
The arrest of a senior Customs officer over allegations of bribe-taking has triggered a controversy.Chief Preventive Officer Ranjan Kanagasabey has been remanded till January 17 on allegations of accepting a bribe of Rs 1 million from Harsha Prabath de Silva, a vehicle body parts importer.
However, Mr C.R. de Silva, P.C. appearing for the Customs Officer, told courts that the money reported to have given as a bribe was found on the floor of the Customs officers room and that there was an eyewitness who had seen what had transpired.
He said that the eyewitness Duminda Subasinghe, had seen the money which was in the hands of the complaint Prabath de Silva dropped by him on the floor and later picked up by the Bribery Commission officials.
The complainant had informed the Bribery Commission that the Customs officer had demand a bribe and arrived with them.
The Counsel told courts that , rewards due to Mr Kanagasabey for making various detections, was over Rs 40 million, and therefore, there was no necessity to take a bribe of Rs 1 million.Meanwhile the eyewitness Subasinghe , has claimed in an affidavit, that a white packet which contained the money, was dropped on the floor inside the Customs Officer’s room, before the Bribery Commission officials stormed into his office at the Customs Headquarters in Fort.
The affidavit is to be given to Mr Kanagasabey.’s Senior Counsel C.R. de Silva P.C., to be submitted to Courts.However, Police Sgt G. Chandrasiri of the Bribery Commission, told courts that the money was recovered from a drawer.
Customs officials angered by the incident, which they claim is a frame-up, have demanded an impartial investigation into the arrest.
Assistant Superintendent of Customs, Sanath Fernando told the Sunday Times, “We have strong reason to believe that this was set up, because Mr. Kanagasabey dealt firmly with vehicle body part importers who evaded paying tax.”
Mr. Kanagasabey who was arrested on Thursday, had his statement recorded by detectives of the Bribery Commission. Thereafter, he was handed over to the Cinnamon Gardens Police.
Mr Fernando said there was an ugly scene played out outside the Police station. “Some interested parties had arranged for a papare band to play in the vicinity, in what seemed a celebration over the arrest of Mr Kanagasabey. We will bring out the fuller details when an inquiry is held”, he said. He said Mr Kanagasabey was due to receive a promotion next week.
The Additional Magistrate directed that issues raised by the Defence lawyers could be submitted in an affidavit to courts, while ordering the Bribery Commission to submit a further report of the findings