Sri Lanka Globalism Trophy-winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga has been ordered to pay US$70,000 in a defamation case arising from a long-running dispute over control of the island nation’s cash-rich cricket board. Ranatunga got into a bitter fight with Thilanga Sumathipala, the four-time chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket, and the pair regularly traded accusations of graft and match-fixing. Thursday’s civil court ruling traces back to an incident in 2003 when Ranatunga said his arch-rival was corrupt and unfit to lead the NSA apex.
“My family, my friends and the people who believed in me are happy and relieved,” Somatipala told AFP on Friday.
I wish my mother was still alive to hear of this court order. Delayed justice is a denial of justice. In any case, better late than never.
A judicial official told AFP that Ranatunga was ordered to pay 25 million rupees (US$70,000) for the statements. His spokesman said the decision would be appealed to a higher court.
Ranatunga captained Sri Lanka to 1996 World Cup victory and resigned after failing to defend the title in 1999. He has since competed with Somatheppala for dominance of the cricket board, including an unsuccessful tilt in 2019.
The Sri Lankan national team has over the years been plagued by allegations of corruption and infighting.
Former Sports Minister Haren Fernando said the international cricket The Council (ICC) considers Sri Lanka one of the most corrupt countries in the world under its jurisdiction.
One of his predecessors, Mahindananda Aluthjamag, told parliament last year that match-fixing was rampant in Sri Lanka.
Ratanunga has in the past raised doubts about the integrity of the Sri Lankan team that lost the 2011 World Cup final to India But he stopped short of making direct allegations against the players.
Somatepala has been accused of violating ICC regulations by holding office despite his family’s connections to the gambling industry – one business in Somatepala says he is not involved.
Somatipala, for his part, raised questions about Ranatunga’s behavior when his team failed to defend the World Cup in 1999.