CID to produce Minister Keheliya Rambukwella before court today
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CID to produce Minister Keheliya Rambukwella before court today

CID to produce Minister Keheliya Rambukwella before court today

Former Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella who was arrested yesterday by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) over the ongoing probe into the import of substandard Immunoglobulin injections, will be produced before the Maligakanda Magistrate's Court today.

 

Rambukwella, currently serving as Environment Minister, becomes the highest-ranking official arrested so far in the widening investigations.

 

Rambukwella arrived at the Criminal Investigation Department around 9 am yesterday, complying with a order issued by the Maligakanda Magistrate's Court.

 

Maligakanda Magistrate Lochana Abeywickrama also imposed an overseas travel ban on Rambukwella on Thursday after he failed to report to the CID.

 

Rambukwella was summoned to the CID on January 30 to give a statement regarding the vaccination incident in question, but he had requested another date saying that there was a case before the Colombo High Court and a meeting at the Presidential Secretariat. However, the Deputy Solicitor General of the Government who gave evidence on Thursday informed the court that investigations revealed that he had not participated in the relevant meeting.

 

He arrived at the CID headquarters around 9 AM yesterday, reportedly through a back entrance, and underwent more than 10 hours of questioning before being arrested.

 

The arrest comes amid mounting public pressure and concerns that the investigation, which had already netted several lower-level officials, was neglecting the potential involvement of higher-ups. Rambukwella's removal from the Health Ministry in October 2023 due to these allegations further fueled public scrutiny.

 

In October 2023, the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) revealed that forged documents were found to have been submitted for Customs clearance to procure a batch of vials containing human immunoglobulin, an antibody produced by blood plasma cells, which later failed the quality tests.

 

Investigations revealed that a local medicine supplier named Isolez Biotech Pharma AG (Pvt.) Ltd. had imported a batch of human intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), allegedly by producing forged documents to the Sri Lanka Customs.

 

The product, which was said to have been manufactured by Livealth Biopharma Pvt Ltd. India, was imported by Biotech Pharma. However, the India-based manufacturer has denied having a hand in this fraudulent activity and communicated to the NMRA that it has neither manufactured, supplied nor exported these products to any party.

 

It was also found that funds amounting to Rs. 130 million were misappropriated through the unlawful procurement of 22,500 vials of IVIG.

 

On 13 October, the Maligakanda Magistrate ordered the CID to expedite the relevant investigations and produce the suspects before the court.

 

Accordingly, the CID has expedited its investigation and arrested several suspects in the case.

 

When the case was called on Thursday, the court ordered to remand 6 people, including the former secretary of the Ministry of Health Janaka Sri Chandragupta, who were arrested and remanded in connection with this incident, until the 15th of February.

 

The court ordered the release of the fifth suspect in the case, the warehouse manager of the medical supply division, on bail.

 

Meanwhile, when former Health Minister Rambukwella arrived at the CID, several civil organizations came in front of the Department to protest against him. Accordingly, security had been tightened with police riot units surrounding the area.

 

Following the news that the former health minister was arrested by the CID over the allegations, the civil activists who were outside the CID were seen celebrating.

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