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Sri Lanka president says he is 'victim' of Swiss kidnap claim

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Colombo (AFP)

Sri Lanka president Gotabaya Rajapaksa said Thursday the alleged kidnapping of a Swiss embassy staffer which triggered a diplomatic spat between Colombo and Bern had been concocted to discredit his election victory.

A Sri Lankan national working for the Swiss mission in Colombo was arrested Monday for allegedly falsely claiming she had been abducted and sexually assaulted by unidentified attackers on November 25.

The alleged abduction happened a day after a Sri Lankan police inspector investigating cases involving the Rajapaksa family sought asylum in Switzerland.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa -- who was elected president last month -- told Colombo-based foreign correspondents Thursday that he was the real "victim" of the saga.

"In this case, the victim is me because immediately after my election, this story came up," he said, giving details of the Swiss embassy staffer's movements on the day she claimed she was held against her will.

"It is very clear it is a planned thing to discredit me and the government."

Rajapaksa said he did not believe the Swiss embassy itself had any role in making the allegations, and insisted he did not want anyone to create tensions between the two countries.

Switzerland on Monday criticised the embassy worker's arrest and "lack of due process in the case", and asked for evidence that she had faked her claims.

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis also spoke to his Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena about the case, the foreign ministry said this week.

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