Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court on Monday extended until August 4 the foreign travel ban on former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his younger brother and former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, who are widely blamed for the island nation’s current economic crisis.
A five-judge panel of judges of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, announced the decision on Monday in a petition filed by a group against former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s brothers, including the former head of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Chandra Jayaratne, Former Sri Lanka Swimming Champion Julian Bolling, Jehan Kanagaratna and Transparency International Sri Lanka.
The order came as a motion related to the petition was filed Monday asking the court to issue an order for an investigation into those responsible for the current economic crisis.
The petition claimed that three people – Basil, Mahinda and former central bank governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal – were directly responsible for the unsustainability of Sri Lanka’s external debt, its debt default and the current economic crisis leading to an acute shortage of basic necessities such as z as food, fuel and medicines.
On July 15, Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court barred the trio from leaving the country until July 28, the report said.
The ban was later extended to August 2.
Earlier this month, Basil was prevented from leaving Sri Lanka following protests by passengers and officials at Bandaranaike International Airport.
Mahinda and Basil’s brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the former Sri Lankan President, arrived in Singapore on July 14 from the Maldives for a “private visit” after fleeing his country to escape a popular uprising against his government’s economic mismanagement.
Rajapaksa has been issued a new visa by Singapore, extending his stay in the country until August 11.
Sri Lanka has endured months of mass unrest over the worst of its economic crisis, with many accusing the previous government led by Rajapaksa and his family of mishandling the island nation’s economy.
The government declared bankruptcy in mid-April by refusing to pay its international debts.
The island nation of 22 million people is experiencing unprecedented economic turmoil, the worst in seven decades, and millions are struggling to buy food, medicine, fuel and other essentials.
The total foreign debt of Sri Lanka is USD 51 billion.