Sri Lankan cricket May 13, 2005

Sumathipala's passport fraud case resumes

Cricinfo staff

Thilanga Sumathipala: what fate awaits?

Thillanga Sumathipala's immigration fraud case was re-started on Thursday as a Colombo court heard submissions concerning the payment of approximately £1000 by the cricket board to a suspected mafia assassin as travel expenses for a recreational trip to watch the 1999 World Cup.

Sumathipala, currently involved in a power struggle for control of Sri Lanka's board with sports minister Jeewan Kumaratunga, spent five months in police custody in 2004 and is now on bail owing to a controversy that has now rumbled on for nearly 20 months. Sumathipala is defending allegations that he aided and abetted a passport fraud.

Sarojini Kusala Weerawardene, the chief magistrate, heard submissions from public officials involved in a financial investigation of Sri Lanka Cricket in 2000 about the alleged issue of traveler's cheques to a Buddhika Godage, who is believed to be Dammikka Amarasinghe, the mafioso who was murdered in January outside a Colombo court.

The Colombo court is trying to determine the exact relationship between the board (known as the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka at the time) and Amarasinghe and, if funds were given to Amarasinghe, and whether this was authorised directly by Sumathipala, the board president at the time. The trial will continue on May 27.

Meanwhile, on a separate issue, the same chief magistrate ordered Sumathipala to report before the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at 2pm on May 18 with regard to an investigation into whether Sumathipala and the board secretary, Ravin Wickramaratne, obstructed the entry of interim officials into the cricket board headquarters.

The investigation follows a complaint made by Jayantha Dharmadasa, the new government-appointed cricket chief, on April 27. This was then followed by a government decision to storm the headquarters and handover full control to the interim committee which is now running the cricket administration.