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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Sri Lanka AG’s Dept drops another case related to a Minister!

Image from Ada Derana News item related to the false statement of Mahindananda Aluthgamage.

Former Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage has got off free despite his much publicised fixing allegation related to the 2011 World Cup final between Sri Lanka and India being proven a blatant lie. A year after these were made, the case has been relegated to the bin, with no evidence having been found to support any of his claims.

The minister could have been charged under Section 13 of the Prevention of Offences Relating to Sports Act for making false allegations but, for reasons better known to the prosecutors, that too has been dropped despite the accused asking the prosecutors to hold Aluthgamage accountable for making false and baseless allegations to substantiate his claims.

Sri Lanka almost had it all at the ICC 2011 World Cup final but India snatched the win to claim its second world title since 1983

Aluthgamage, now holding the agriculture portfolio of the present cabinet, dropped a bombshell in June last year claiming Sri Lanka had “sold” the 2011 World Cup final to India basing his claim on a “suspicion” he had on the formation of the playing XI as well as several other turn of events before and during the match. He also said that no permission was sought to make last minute injury replacements into the team.

The police have now dropped the case on the advice of the Attorney General’s Department over lack of evidence. Even if there is, the match fixing law enacted in 2019 does not have the retrospective effect to challenge the incident. Accordingly, they have also dropped taking action against the minister for making false allegations.

“There’s no evidence whatsoever to pursue a case,” sources from AG’s Department confirmed.

“So we advised police to drop the case”.

Following the June 18, 2020 claims, cricketers Aravinda de Silva (Selection Committee Chairman), Upul Tharanga and Kumar Sangakkara were questioned at length by the Special Investigation Unit. Mahela Jayawardene was also asked to be present, then told to keep off at the last minute.

In his allegation, the minister said that no approval was sought for some of the last minutes changes made to the team ahead of the final. This was far from the truth. In Sri Lanka, the Sports Law requires the minister’s approval of sports teams competing in international events at home or abroad.

The selectors in consultation with the team management made two changes to the side, bringing in Chaminda Vaas and spinner Suraj Randiv as possible replacements for Angelo Mathews and ace spinner Muttiah Muralidaran.

The then Minister of Sports, Mahindananda Aluthgamage created ‘the’ news of the decade, which ended a farse eventually.

There was, however, documentary evidence to show he was not being truthful when he claimed neither the Sports Ministry, which he headed at the time, nor Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) were aware of last-minute additions to the World Cup squad.

The Sunday Times exclusively reported with documents on June 28, 2020, to show the Ministry had sanctioned injury replacements on March 30, 2011. This dealt a blow to the credibility of the minister’s allegations.

The accused cricketers submitted proof of team approvals but the AG’s Department were trying to establish the authenticity of those documents as the papers are not at the Ministry.

A few months later Minister Aluthgamage, during a talk show, showed several documents claiming to substantiate his assertions of a fix. The proof, he said, was submitted to local investigators and also the ICC’s Anti Corruption Unit (ACU). He repeated claims that he lodged an official complaint with the ICC at the time. But the ICC has denied receiving such a letter.

“There is no record of any letter regarding this matter sent by the then Sri Lanka Sports Minister to the ICC and senior ICC staff at the time have confirmed they have no recollection of receiving any such letter which would have led to an investigation,” Alex Marshall, Head of ICC ACU, said in a statement.

The minister could have been charged under Section 13 of the Prevention of Offences Relating to Sports Act for making false allegations but, for reasons better known to the prosecutors, that too has been dropped despite the accused asking the prosecutors to hold Aluthgamage accountable for making false and baseless allegations to substantiate his claims.

According to section 13 of the Prevention of Offences Relating to Sports Act No. 19 of 2019, making false allegations is an offence and warrants a fine and a jail term if proved in a court of law.
ST

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