Three people have been arrested by Sri Lankan police when they tried to sell 40 gold-plated copper sockets stolen from the President’s House in Colombo after angry protesters entered the iconic building during an unprecedented anti-government protest over the country’s severe economic crisis.
On July 9, anti-government protesters occupied the official residence of former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the private residence of former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The mob also set fire to Wickremesinghe’s private residence.
Three people who entered the President’s House in Fort on July 9 during protest have been arrested with 40 gold-plated copper sockets attached to the walls to hang curtains, the online newspaper Daily Mirror reported.
Welikada police arrested the suspects while attempting to sell the stolen items on Sunday, it said.
The arrested suspects, aged 28, 34 and 37, are residents of Obeysekarapura in Rajagiriya. The three were also suspected drug addicts, police said.
They will be handed over to the Colombo (North) Criminal Investigation Division, which is conducting the investigation into the incidents, the report said.
Based on initial investigations, at least 1,000 valuable artifacts, including rare items, have disappeared from the presidential palace and the prime minister’s official residence.
Special investigation teams have been formed to launch an investigation, the web portal Colombo Page said on Saturday, according to police sources.
Adding to the pain for the investigating officers, the Sri Lankan Department of Archeology does not have a detailed overview of the antiques and various artifacts in the presidential palace, although it has been classified as a site of archaeological interest, the report said. .
President-elect Wickremesinghe has said he respects the protesters’ rights to demonstrate peacefully, but has said he will not allow another government building to be occupied.
Wickremesinghe said he has authorized Sri Lanka’s armed forces and police to take whatever measures are necessary to prevent people from storming public facilities and obstructing parliament.
He has said the occupation of government buildings is illegal and warns that legal action will be taken against their occupiers. Protesters set fire to Wickremesinghe’s personal home and occupied his office during the protests.
Sri Lanka has seen months of mass unrest over an economic crisis, with many blaming the former government led by deposed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his family for mishandling the island’s economy.
Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, is gripped by an unprecedented economic turmoil, the worst in seven decades, as millions struggle to buy food, medicine, fuel and other necessities. Sri Lanka’s total external debt is $51 billion.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by DailyExpertNews staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)