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  • Writer's pictureDahlia Foundation

Sri Lanka top court finds Rajapaksa brothers guilty of economic crisis

Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court has issued a symbolic ruling that the powerful Rajapaksa brothers – including two ex-presidents – were guilty of triggering the island’s worst financial crisis by mishandling the economy.

In a majority verdict on multiple petitions filed by academics and civil rights activists, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that the respondents, who all later resigned or were sacked, had violated public trust.

The case was filed by corruption watchdog Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) and another four activists against top former officials, including former presidents Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Mahinda Rajapaksa.

It also included their younger brother, ex-finance minister Basil Rajapaksa, two former central bank governors and other top treasury officials.

“We sought a declaration from the court that the mishandling or inaction on the economy by the former heads of the state and senior officials did violate the fundamental rights of people,” Transparency International lawyer Nadishani Perera told AFP news agency Tuesday.

“We have received that. It is now up to the citizens to take any further action.”

The top court’s bench ruled 4-1 that the group was responsible for economic mismanagement between 2019 and 2022, ordering them to pay just over $458 (150,000 Sri Lankan rupees) as legal costs to the petitioners.

“Given that petitioners came to court in the interest of the public and did not seek compensation for themselves, the court was not inclined to order compensation other than costs incurred by petitioners,” Transparency International said in a statement.

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