Colombo (AFP) – Sri Lanka arrested a former ambassador to Russia after he was extradited from Dubai on Friday to raise money laundering fees over a controversial MiG aircraft purchase, police said.
Udayanga Weeratunga was brought before a judge in Colombo, who held him in custody until Monday until another hearing.
A police statement said Weeratunga, who is also closely related to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s family, was arrested in connection with an investigation into the Sri Lankan military’s purchase of four used MiG-27 aircraft from Ukraine in 2006 Service.
There had been an international arrest warrant against him. At the time of purchase, President Rajapaksa was the Secretary of the Department of Defense. Weeratunga was Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Russia from 2006 until the election defeat of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in January 2015.
The MiG-27 ground attack aircraft was part of the military’s armory to destroy the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels and end the island’s 37-year ethnic war by May 2009.
Weeratunga has been accused of a setback in the aircraft business, but has denied any wrongdoing.