Sri Lanka arrests Swiss Embassy worker who claimed abduction

December 16, 2019 0 By HearthstoneYarns

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lankan police arrested a Swiss Embassy employee on Monday who said she was abducted and was threatened to disclose embassy-related information.

Police said they arrested Gania Banister Francis on suspicion that she made statements that caused disaffection toward the government and fabricated evidence in her abduction claim. A court approved her detention.

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The Swiss foreign ministry has called the Nov. 25 incident a “very serious and unacceptable attack” and summoned Sri Lanka’s ambassador to demand an investigation.

The government has insisted that evidence collected by its investigators did not support the sequence of events given by the embassy.

Sri Lanka also rejected a request by the embassy to fly Francis and her family to Switzerland.

Francis was summoned to the Criminal Investigations Department to make statements over five days and was subjected to medical tests and a psychiatric analysis.

The Attorney General’s Department told the Criminal Investigations Department earlier Monday that there is no evidence to support Francis’ claim that she was abducted, subjected to coercion or sexual harassment.

A Sri Lankan police investigator, Nishantha Silva, fled to Switzerland following a Nov. 16 election in which President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected to power.

Silva had been investigating alleged abductions, torture, killings and enforced disappearances of journalists and activists when Rajapaksa was the defense chief under his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa’s presidency.

As defense chief, Gotabaya Rajapaksa was accused of overseeing what were known as “white van” abduction squads that whisked away critics. Some of them were returned after being tortured, while others were never seen again.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa has denied the allegations.