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AG prevents murder convict from attending Pradeshiya Sabha meeting

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MP Premalal’s parnter in crime not so lucky

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Commissioner General of Prisons Thushara Upuldeniya has recently brought to the notice of Justice Ministry Secretary Attorney-at-Law Priyantha Mayadunne, the absence of rules and regulations pertaining to a convicted prisoner being allowed to attend local government sittings.

Upuldeniya, in a letter dated Oct 5, 2020, having pointed out the lapse on their part and sought Justice Secretary’s advice how to handle a request made by Counsel for Kahawatte Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman Mannika Waduge Vajira Darshana Silva, sentenced to death in addition to 47-year prison term over a killing in Kahawatte police area in January 2015.

Silva contested the last Local Government polls in Feb 2018 on Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) ticket.

According to Upuldeniya’s missive, Silva had been remanded at the Welikada prison since July 31, 2020 pending hearing of his appeal against the verdict given by the Ratnapura High Court.

Justice Minister Ali Sabry, PC, told The Island yesterday that the Prisons Chief’s request had been forwarded to the Attorney General.

State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne, who is also the Attorney General’s Coordinating Officer, citing relevant sections of Local Government Statute as well as the Criminal Procedure Code, told The Island that the person concerned was not eligible to take part in local government proceedings whatsoever. She pointed out that the Court of Appeal proceedings had resulted in the suspense of the implementation of death penalty whereas he/she remained disqualified either to participate or vote under any circumstances.

According to the existing laws, a person convicted of murder couldn’t be elected as a member of local government body, participate in proceedings or vote, Jayaratne said.

Legal sources told The Island that Kahawatte PS Chairman Silva had been convicted together with Premalal Jayasekera over the killing of Dodangodage Susil Perera alias Shantha Dodangoda in the run-up to January 8, 2015 presidential election.

In spite of AG’s recommendation, Jayasekera successfully moved the Court of Appeal and was able to take oaths as an MP.

The Ratnapura HC sentenced former Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council member Nilantha Jayakody in addition to Jayasekera and Silva. The then Deputy Minister Jayasekera and a group of persons attacked supporters of common candidate Maithripala Sirisena, while they were engaged in decorating a stage. Sources said that the Attorney General’s opinion as regards Jayasekera and Silva attending Parliament and Pradeshiya Sabha, respectively, similar except in the case of the latter the disqualification is under the local government statute.

Sirisena re-entered parliament from Polonnaruwa on the SLPP ticket at the Aug 2020 general election.

Justice Ministry Secretary Mayadunne told The Island that three committees had been appointed to examine the ways and means of updating existing laws, rules and regulations as part of overall measures to improve the judicial system. Acknowledging the shortcomings pointed out by Commissioner General of Prisons, Mayadunne said that committees headed by Shavindra Fernando, PC (criminal), attorney-at-law K. A. Lasitha Kanuwanaarachchi. (civil) and Kaushalya Nawaratne (commercial) would make recommendations.

Mayadunne explained efforts made by the Justice Ministry to improve and streamline the system.

 Commissioner General, Prisons, Upuldeniya, too, acknowledged the urgent need to amend laws, rules and regulations to face the current situation. Upuldeniya said that Kahawatte PC Chairman hadn’t been taken for Thursday, Oct 8 sessions.



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President Ranil Wickremasinghe calls upon chief prelates of Asgiriya and Malwatta chapters

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(pic courtsey Divaina)

President Ranil Wickremasinghe called upon the chief prelates of the Asgiriya and Malwatta chapters on Thursday (02) morning to seek their blessings ahead of the 75th Independence day celebrations.

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US secures deal on bases to complete arc around China

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US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (R) was in the Philippines to finalise the deal (picture BBC)

BBC reported that the United States has secured access to four additional military bases in the Philippines – a key bit of real estate which would offer a front seat to monitor the Chinese in the South China Sea and around Taiwan.

With this deal, Washington has stitched the gap in the arc of US alliances stretching from South Korea and Japan in the north to Australia in the south.

The missing link had been the Philippines, which borders two of the biggest potential flashpoints, Taiwan and the South China Sea, or the West Philippine Sea as Manila insists on calling it.

The US already had limited access to five sites under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) – the new additions and expanded access, according to a statement from Washington, will “allow more rapid support for humanitarian and climate-related disasters in the Philippines, and respond to other shared challenges”, likely a veiled reference to countering China in the region.

The statement came after Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin met Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr in Manila on Thursday.

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Nuland accuses China of failing to help SL with ‘credible and specific assurances’ acceptable to IMF

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Nuland addressing the media in Colombo (pic by Thushara Atapattu)

US hopes LG polls will be held in March

By Saman Indrajith

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, yesterday said China had not provided credible and specific assurances to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for Sri Lanka to overcome the current economic crisis.

Addressing the media in Colombo, Nuland said: “What China has offered so far is not enough. We need to see credible and specific assurances that they will meet the IMF standard of debt relief. We, the United States, are prepared to do our part. Our Paris Club partners are prepared to do their part. India has made strong commitments that it will provide the credible assurances the IMF is looking for.”

Nuland said that India and the Paris Club had given strong assurances to the IMF to help Sri Lanka to obtain a $2.9 billion bailout.

“We want to see an IMF program as quickly as possible. That is what Sri Lanka deserves; that is what Sri Lanka needs,” Nuland said.

Nuland said the US would give Sri Lanka an additional USD 30 million to provide 96,000 schoolchildren with food.

She said Sri Lankans had taken to the streets, last year, demanding cleaner, accountable and inclusive governance, with transparency, and the government was expected to hold the elections to enable people to enjoy their democratic rights.

Nuland said that the US was glad to see that consultation between the government and other parties towards reconciliation had commenced. She said that she had met with members of the Tamil political parties, earlier yesterday. “We hope that the dialogue will continue to achieve real results such as return of the lands to their rightful owners.”

Nuland said that the US hoped that local elections would be held in March, the dialogue commenced for reconciliation would continue, and the Prevention of Terrorism Act would be reformed to meet international standards.

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