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Sri Lanka's Ranatunga arrested over assault charge


COLOMBO, March 7 (AFP) - Sri Lanka's cricket legend Arjuna Ranatunga was arrested by police on his return from a charity match in Kenya Wednesday and taken before a magistrate, police said.

Ranatunga was arrested after he surrendered to local police and a magistrate ordered his release on a 55,000-rupee (647 dollar) bail bond with an order to appear in court in a week to answer charges against him.

Earlier, Colombo magistrate Kusala Weerawardena remanded Ranatunga's brother, Prasanna, and four of his staff over an alleged assault on high school students in Friday.

The order follows an incident on Friday in which Rantunga, his politician brother and security guards at their residence allegedly beat up a group of students who had hit a cricket ball into the grounds of the family home.

Seven students, aged 16 to 18, were hospitalised. Six of them have been discharged. One of them remained in hospital with head injuries.

Ranatunga's father, Reggie Ranatunga, the food minister in President Chandrika Kumaratunga's cabinet, denied his sons had beaten up the students.

Minister Ranatunga said the students had used foul language towards his wife and tried to damage a wall during their attempts to retrieve the cricket ball.

"There is a conspiracy to implicate my children," he said. "I want an impartial inquiry. It is the children from Asoka College who abused and attacked our house."

The College has been shut since Monday because of anti-Ranatunga protests by the students.

Education Minister Susil Premjayantha attempted to soothe tensions over the incident by visiting the injured students in hospital.

Ranatunga, the former captain of the national cricket team and the man who led Sri Lanka to victory in the 1996 World Cup, left for Kenya after the incident.







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