Sri Lanka’s ex-leader defends son over murder claim

Mahinda RajapakseSri Lanka’s former president Mahinda Rajapakse Sunday denied his son was involved in the controversial death of a national rugby player as a magistrate ordered a fresh investigation.

Police said the body of rugby star Wasim Thajudeen will be exhumed Monday for forensic tests after allegations that authorities covered up the investigation during Rajapakse’s regime.

Local media have reported that Thajudeen was killed over a love triangle that involved Rajapakse’s second son Yoshitha, although police recorded the death as a road accident.

“I welcome the investigation because that will help us to clear our name,” said former president Rajapakse, who is accused of helping to cover up the murder.

“But the timing of the investigation suggests that the government is trying to make political capital out of it.”

Rajapakse, who is standing for parliament this month after losing the presidency in January, is under investigation over allegations he syphoned off billions of dollars from the state during his nine-year rule.

Several of his siblings, as well as other family member and close associates, face a plethora of corruption allegations. They have rejected the allegations as a political witch-hunt.

Yoshitha Rajapakse is accused of ordering the killing of Thajudeen because of a bitter dispute over a woman while both men were national rugby stars and represented Sri Lanka at the Rugby Sevens.

Government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne told reporters last week that three members of Rajapakse’s security contingent had been identified as the men who abducted and killed Thajudeen.

His charred body was found along a main road in Colombo in May 2012, but CCTV footage from the neighbourhood suggested that he was abducted before his death.

Last month, police told a court that they had fresh evidence and wanted to reopen the case.

Police had deployed armed guards at Thajudeen’s grave site fearing there could be an attempt to remove the remains before a forensic examination could be held.

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