Scandal Unfolds: Former Sri Lanka Health Minister Linked to Substandard Human Immunoglobulin Deal

-By A Special Correspondent

(Lanka-e-News -29.Dec.2023, 11.45 PM) In a shocking revelation during the trial of suspects involved in the substandard human immunoglobulin scandal, the counsel for the first suspect, the owner of Isolez Biotech Pharma AG (Pvt) Ltd, pointed fingers at the former Health Minister, Keheliya Rambukwella. The counsel, Jaliya Samarasinghe, claimed in court that the suspect had followed the explicit instructions of the then Health Minister, stating, "The Minister asked me to do, I did it."

Maligakanda Magistrate expressed concern..

This bombshell accusation raised questions about whether the former Health Minister had prior knowledge of the illicit dealings that ultimately cost the public over Rs. 01 billion. The Maligakanda Magistrate, Lochana Abeywickrama, expressed concern and sought clarification from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on why Minister Keheliya Rambukwella's name had not been mentioned in the suspects' statements.

In response to the magistrate's inquiry, the CID was instructed to record further statements from the first and third suspects at the prison premises. Magistrate Abeywickrama emphasized that the suspects' counsel should refrain from making statements based on hearsay and urged them to present factual submissions in court.

Deputy Solicitor General Lakmini Girihagama, presenting a further report on the CID investigations, appealed to the court to order additional statements from two officers, Vijith Gunasekera and Ms. A.M.P.K. Alweera of the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA). DSG Girihagama also requested the CID to locate Vijith Gunasekera, who had reportedly migrated from Sri Lanka, to record his statement.

laboratory investigations incomplete...

DSG Girihagama informed the court that the Cabinet had granted approval for the drug importation, presenting an English copy of the approval and requesting the CID to provide a Sinhala translation. She highlighted that laboratory investigations on the produced vaccines were incomplete, seeking a further date to conclude the examinations.

The DSG asserted that the first suspect was not authorized to manufacture the questionable vaccine and had also imported chemicals, water cleansing drugs, and bottles without proper sanction. Stressing that the investigations were ongoing, she urged the court to remand the suspects until the process was complete.

Failure to arrest former Minister Keheliya..

However, counsel for the sixth suspect, Janaka Sri Chandragupta, accused the Criminal Investigation Department of political favoritism, alleging a failure to arrest former Minister Keheliya Rambukwella and apprehend the real culprits behind the crime.

The Magistrate, adhering to a commitment to justice, further remanded six suspects, including the former Secretary to the Ministry of Health, Janaka Chandragupta, until January 10. The Magistrate had previously ordered the arrest of all responsible parties, regardless of their positions, emphasizing the need for accountability in providing substandard medicine to the public.

The suspects include the former Secretary of the Ministry of Health, the Director of the Health Ministry’s Medical Supplies Division, and three other officials of the NMRA, along with the owner of the company responsible for manufacturing the substandard immunoglobulin vials through the forgery of documents. The case continues to unfold, shedding light on the intricate web of corruption within the health sector.

-By A Special Correspondant

by     (2023-12-29 19:07:10)

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