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AG to move HC over eight related incidents 

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Easter Sunday carnage probe:

… gems worth Rs 14 mn among cash, jewellery, etc., worth 340 mn recovered

By Shamindra Ferdinando  

The Police Headquarters says Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC, will soon move High Court in respect of eight incidents related to the 2019 Easter Sunday suicide attacks.  

Officers of the AG’s Department along with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) were preparing in that regard, Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said.  

According to SDIG, in charge of the police Legal Division, altogether, the CID and the TID had investigated 17 incidents and the previous AG Dappula de Livera, PC, filed cases in the High Courts of Kegalle, Kandy, Kurunegala, Puttalam and Colombo in respect of nine investigations. Rajaratnam succeeded de Livera on May 26. SDIG Rohana said that the CID and the TID would conduct further investigations into fresh findings made because of ongoing discussions among the AG’s officers and representatives of the CID and the TID. A series of suicide attacks in Colombo, Batticaloa and Negombo on April 21, 2019 claimed the lives of 270, including 45 foreigners. The police blamed now proscribed National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) for the attacks. Police headquarters announced the move to file the remaining eight cases in the wake of the Catholic Church stepping up pressure over what Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith called unsatisfactory status of the investigations 

SDIG Rohana said that during the investigations the CID and the TID took 724 persons into custody. Out of whom, 227 persons had been remanded pending further investigations whereas 83 were held in terms of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). The rest had been granted bail.

Among those detained are All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) leader and Vanni

District Samagi Jana Balavegaya MP Rishad Bathiudeen and his brother, Riyaj as well as JVP National List nominee Mohamed Yusuf Ibrahim, father of two suicide bombers, who perished in the wave of attacks on Easter Sunday 2019. Investigators have recovered Rs 28.5 mn in cash, USD 695,830, three blue gems estimated to be worth Rs 14 mn and jewellery to the tune of Rs 24 mn from some of the suspects.  

 SDIG Rohana said altogether they had recovered Sri Lankan rupees, USD, gems, and jewellery worth Rs 205 mn. The government, in terms of the PTA has also taken over several properties owned by Easter Sunday carnage suspects, he said.  

Among the properties are 18-acre Lactowatta in Karadipuwal, Wanathavilluwa, 25-acre land at Aselapura in Welikanda, another 25-acre land at Ollipuram in Kattankudy and luxury house situated on 8.5 perch land at Dematagoda, where wife of one of the suicide bombers triggered a blast when the police surrounded the house. The police arrested her father-in-law spice merchant Mohamed Yusuf Ibrahim whose two sons — identified as Ilham Ahmed Ibrahim and Imsath Ahmed Ibrahim — detonated their explosives at the Shangri-La and the Cinnamon Grand hotels, respectively. The police have also taken into custody seven vans, one Bolero jeep, seven motorcycles and one three-wheeler used by those involved in the conspiracy. SDIG Rohana said that the police investigating Easter Sunday attacks recorded staggering 9,800 statements and analyzed 21,000 telephone numbers, in addition to the recovery of Rs 134 mn from 100 bank accounts. Responding to another question, the top police officer said that the police also inquired into NTJ activities in the run-up to the Easter Sunday attacks. There had been organized attempts to entice those who sat the GCE Ordinary Level and Advanced Level into the NTJ’s ranks, SDIG Rohana said.  

Meanwhile, top Church spokesperson Rev Father Cyril Gamini Fernando asked whether the AG Department and the police would consider the recommendations made by the Presidential Commission. Rev. Fernando said that the Church expected the government to punish those who had planned the heinous attacks. Dealing with those who had neglected their responsibilities despite being constitutionally responsible for safety and security of the people was as important as exposing the masterminds, Rev Fernando said.  

Responding to another query, Rev. Fernando recalled what former AG de Livera, PC said days before he retired. President’s Counsel de Livera declared that the Easter Sunday massacre was a high-profile conspiracy, Rev Fernando recalled. Now that he was no longer at the helm of the AG’s Department, his successor Rajaratnam should bring the investigations to a successful conclusion, the priest said. 



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Pakistan’s ex-president, Pervez Musharraf dies aged 79

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(picture BBC)

BBC reported that Pakistan’s former president General Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a coup in 1999, has died aged 79.

The former leader – who was president between 2001 and 2008 – died after a long illness, a statement from the country’s army said.

He had survived numerous assassination attempts, and found himself on the front line of the struggle between militant Islamists and the West.

He supported the US “war on terror” after 9/11 despite domestic opposition.

In 2008 he suffered defeat in the polls and left the country six months later.

When he returned in 2013 to try to contest the election, he was arrested and barred from standing. He was charged with high treason and was sentenced to death in absentia only for the decision to be overturned less than a month later.

He left Pakistan for Dubai in 2016 to seek medical treatment and had been living in exile in the country ever since.

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The 75th Anniversary of National Independence celebrated under the patronage of President, PM

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(picture Presidents Media)

The 75th National Independence Day celebration was held under the theme “Namo Namo Mata – A Step towards the Century”, under the patronage of President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on Saturday morning (04) at Galle Face Green.

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Lanka sovereign bond holders write to the IMF

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ECONOMYNEXT –Sri Lanka’s bondholders have written to the International Monetary Fund expressing their willingness to engage in debt re-structuring talks but also raising matters related to the domestic debt re-structuring and economic assumptions and forecasts.

The group, styling itself as the “Ad Hoc Group of Sri Lanka Bondholders (the Bondholder Group) has written last week to the IMF Managing Director from New York said inter alia that the Bondholder Group through its Steering Committee stands ready to engage quickly and effectively with the Sri Lankan authorities to design and implement restructuring terms that would help Sri Lanka restore debt sustainability and allow the country to re-gain access to the international capital markets during the IMF Programme period.

The letter concluded with the paragraph: Recognizing the important commitments made by India in the India Letter, the Sri Lankan authorities will apply the principle of comparable treatment in respect of the debt relief requested and obtained from all their remaining official bilateral creditors.

Following is the text of the letter:

NEW YORK, Feb. 3, 2023

Dear Managing Director Georgieva,The Ad Hoc Group of Sri Lanka Bondholders (the “Bondholder Group”) acknowledges the Sri Lankan authorities’ engagement with their official creditors towards a resolution of the current crisis and restoration of debt sustainability.

The Bondholder Group further acknowledges that such engagement has recently resulted in the Government of India (in its letter to the IMF, dated January 16, 2023 (the “India Letter”)) delivering letters of financing assurances, committing to support Sri Lanka and contribute to its efforts to restore debt sustainability by providing debt relief and financing consistent with the IMF Extended Fund Facility Arrangement (the “IMF Programme”) and the IMF Programme targets indicated in the India Letter.

Similarly, the Bondholder Group through its Steering Committee stands ready to engage quickly and effectively with the Sri Lankan authorities to design and implement restructuring terms that would help Sri Lanka restore debt sustainability and allow the country to re-gain access to the international capital markets during the IMF Programme period.

Based on the limited information available to us at this time, including information contained in the India Letter, we understand that the IMF Programme’s debt sustainability targets are identified as

(i) reducing the ratio of public debt to GDP to 95% by 2032,

(ii) limiting the central government’s annual gross financing needs to GDP ratio to 13% in the period between 2027 and 2032, and central government annual foreign currency debt service at 4.5% of GDP in every year between 2027 and 2032 and

(iii) closing of the external financing gap.

The Bondholder Group hereby confirms it is prepared to engage, through its Steering Committee, with the Sri Lankan authorities in restructuring negotiations consistent with the parameters of an IMF Programme and the targets specified therein (the “IMF Programme Targets”), which the Bondholder Group understands to be the targets identified in the India Letter; it being recognized that these negotiations will necessarily be further informed by the receipt of the forthcoming DSA.

We would note that the finalization of an agreement will also be subject to the satisfaction of the following conditions:

The central government’s domestic debt – defined as debt governed by local law – is reorganized in a manner that both ensures debt sustainability and safeguards financial stability.

Assuming that annual gross financing needs should not exceed 13% of GDP in the period between 2027 and 2032, whilst allowing for central government annual foreign currency debt service to reach 4.5% of GDP in every year between 2027 and 2032, domestic gross financing should therefore be limited at 8.5% of GDP for the period 2027-2032.

While we recognize that the determination of the economic assumptions underpinning the IMF Programme Targets is ultimately the responsibility of the IMF and that the overall design of the IMF Programme is one that is negotiated between the IMF and Sri Lanka, it is nevertheless important that the Bondholder Group has the opportunity to express its views on both the economic assumptions underpinning these IMF Programme Targets and the adequacy and feasibility of the adjustment efforts contemplated under the IMF Programme.

When considering any restructuring proposal that is made to the Bondholder Group, it is the Bondholder Group’s intention to take into consideration the extent to which the economic assumptions and the adjustment efforts are consistent with these views.

Recognizing the important commitments made by India in the India Letter, the Sri Lankan authorities will apply the principle of comparable treatment in respect of the debt relief requested and obtained from all their remaining official bilateral creditors.

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