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Switzerland stresses diplomatic safety in Sri Lanka arrest

by Ace Damon

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) – The Swiss Embassy in Sri Lanka said the security of diplomatic missions is the responsibility of the host state, days after a local official who complained of assault was released on bail while under investigation for denigrating the government. .

Prior to her arrest, the Sri Lankan official reportedly said she was kidnapped, held for hours, sexually assaulted and threatened by captors who demanded she disclose embassy-related information.

She was bailed on Monday after two weeks of detention on charges of making statements to create discontent with the government and fabricate evidence.

Sri Lankan officials said they investigated their complaint but found no evidence to lodge a complaint against anyone.

In a diplomatic note released to the media on Tuesday night, Switzerland said it is the responsibility of any government to protect diplomatic missions in other states.

Switzerland said the relationship between the two countries "was marked by misunderstandings surrounding" the incident. However, he said he "hopes for a quick return to an environment conducive to the resumption of positive cooperation."

"Recognizing that local personnel are subject to local law, the embassy is convinced that both sides will remain aware of the working conditions and welfare of all diplomatic mission officials," it said.

The Swiss Foreign Ministry had previously considered the alleged abduction of the embassy official on November 25 as a "very serious and unacceptable attack" and called on the Sri Lankan ambassador to demand an investigation. It also criticized the lack of due process in the case.

The Sri Lankan government insisted that the evidence collected by its investigators did not support the embassy's sequence of events that the woman had been kidnapped by captors who demanded that she reveal unspecified embassy information.

Sri Lanka has also rejected a request from the embassy to transport the official and her family to Switzerland.

Before the woman was arrested, she was summoned to the Sri Lankan Criminal Investigation Department to make statements and underwent medical examinations and psychiatric analyzes.

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa later said that he had become the victim of the alleged kidnapping because foreign media reported it before the facts were established and critics accused his government of executing it.

Rajapaksa became president after winning the November 16 elections. Shortly after, Nishantha Silva, a Sri Lankan police investigator, fled to Switzerland.

Silva was investigating alleged kidnappings, tortures, murders and forced disappearances of journalists and activists, while Rajapaksa was chief of defense under the presidency of his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa was charged with overseeing what were known as "white van" kidnapping squads that drove critics. Some were returned after being tortured, while others were never seen again. He denied the charges.

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