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Arrest awaits Ranatunga, brother remanded over assault charge


COLOMBO, March 7 (AFP) - A Sri Lankan magistrate has ordered the arrest of Sri Lankan cricket great Arjuna Ranatunga and remanded his brother and four of his staff over an alleged assault on high school students.

Colombo magistrate Kusala Weerawardena ordered Ranatunga arrested on his return from Kenya, where he played Sunday in a charity match.

The order follows an incident on Friday in which Rantunga, his politician brother Prasanna and security guards at their resident 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.

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 a cricket ball that the children had played into the compound adjoining Asoka College.

"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 and has not been available for comment.







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