Sri Lanka arrests Swiss Embassy worker who claimed abduction

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Sri Lankan police on Monday arrested a Swiss Embassy employee who has said she was abducted, held for hours, sexually assaulted and threatened by captors who demanded that she disclose embassy-related information.

Gania Banister Francis, a local embassy employee, made statements that could justify a criminal charge of disaffection toward the government and also fabricated evidence in her abduction claim, Sri Lanka’s Attorney General’s Department told police. A court approved her detention.

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

The Sri Lankan government has insisted that evidence collected by its investigators did not support the sequence of events provided by the embassy that she had been abducted by captors who demanded she reveal unspecified information about the embassy.

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

Francis was summoned to the Sri Lanka’s Criminal Investigations Department to make statements and was subjected to medical tests and a psychiatric analysis, local media have reported.

The Sri Lanka Attorney General’s Department told the country’s Criminal Investigations Department said that there is no evidence to support Francis’ claim that she was abducted.

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 the presidency of his brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa.

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

Gotabaya Rajapaksa has denied the allegations.

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