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Army personnel held in weapons transportation probe



AG orders probe on Police Spokesman

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The police have taken two army personnel into custody in connection with the ongoing investigation into the alleged transportation of a stock of weapons to Pitipana, Homagama during the height of the covid-19 epidemic.

Police spokesman and attorney-at-law SSP Jaliya Senaratne said so in response to a query raised during hastily arranged media conference at the police headquarters yesterday.

SSP Senaratne said that the CID had detained two army personnel and more arrests were likely depending on the investigation.

Asked whether the weapons belonged to the LTTE and the number of weapons, SSP Senaratne said that they were inquiring into the origin of the weapons and why they were moved to Colombo. Out of the smuggled lethal haul 13 T 56 assault rifles and one T 81 weapon had been recovered so far, the police official said, explaining the progress made by investigators.

Among those who had been so far arrested in connection with the high profile investigation included Sub Inspector of Police attached to the Special Task Force (STF) and print media journalist Prasad Abeywickrema. SSP Senaratne alleged that the journalist had abused his media accreditation to facilitate the transportation of weapons to Colombo.

The police spokesman said that the ongoing investigation hadn’t revealed the involvement of any other journalist in the alleged transportation of weapons.

SSP Senaratne said that the police commando had been arrested on a charge of aiding and abetting drug dealers. According to him, the Officer-in-Charge of Intelligence and Special Operations of the STF detachment in Mannar had been arrested on Tuesday night (18).

The police spokesman explained that investigations-the transportation of weapons to Colombo and the arrest of police commando were separate cases though being carried out as part of the overall crackdown on the underworld.

The police spokesman released a long list of recoveries and detections made in the recent past.

The Island sought the police spokesman’s views on Justice Minister Ali Sabry PC’s accusation pertaining to direct nexus between the lawbreakers and four state institutions-the police, the prisons, the Government Analyst’s Department and the Registrars of courts. Asked whether the police could explain law enforcement and other government personnel dealing in heroin, SSP Senaratne claimed that the case involving PNB personnel as well as the arrest of Government Analyst’s Department personnel were isolated cases.

Senaratne said that it wouldn’t be fair to target entire institutions over isolated cases.

The media raised the Attorney General Dappula de Livera raising the conduct of the OIC, Negombo and the Police Spokesman in respect of statements/claims regarding the arrest of Superintendent of Negombo Police Anuruddha Sampayo on July 2 in Kurunegala.

SSP Senaratne said that the AG had instructed Acting IGP C.D. Wickramaratne to inquire into his conduct as well as that of the Negombo OIC. The AG had disputed the Negombo OIC’s version of Sampayo’s arrest. SSP Senaratne said that he couldn’t discuss the matter as an investigation was underway. The police spokesman said that he addressed the media on the basis of information provided to him.

Coordinator to the AG, State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne told The Island that instructions were issued yesterday.



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Fuel crisis: Key CPC facility opened for VIPs, friends as public transport shrinks



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Samagi Jana Balavegaya trade unionist Ananda Palitha yesterday (01) alleged that members of Parliament, Chairmen of various government institutions, and other politically connected persons, continued to obtain unlimited petrol and diesel from the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) facility at Kolonnawa.

The former CPC employee declared that the powers that be had transformed the Kolonnawa depot into a special facility to cater to the needs of the politically influential.

Those who touted the ‘One Country, One Law’ concept had created a special category while almost the entire nation suffered due to the unprecedented disruption of fuel supplies, Palitha said.

Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera and CPC Chairman Sumith Wijesinha didn’t answer their phones.

Ananda Palitha said that none of those who had been given access to the Kolonnawa depot came under essential services. “Why should lawmakers, whatever their status in society, be given access to the special facility when they aren’t included among essential services,”

Ananda Palitha asked.The SJB activist said that the government was struggling to maintain public transport after having repeatedly promised to sustain.

The trade unionist alleged that though they brought the clandestine operation at Kolonnawa to the attention of the government, it continued unabated. Barrels full of fuel had been taken from Kolonnawa, he said, among the beneficiaries were owners of V8 and other super luxury vehicles.

Ananda Palitha said that the Opposition should have taken up this issue vigorously.

Responding to another query, Ananda Palitha said that according to information available to them, Ceypetco had approximately 3,000 mt of diesel, 2,500 mt of petrol 95,600-700 mt of petrol 92 and was not in a position at least to meet the requirement of the essential services.

“The government is yet to come up with a plan to obtain petrol and diesel,” Ananda Palitha said, urging the government to take the public into confidence.

Palitha pointed out that the police had carried out numerous raids, targeting those who hoarded diesel and petrol, whereas a primary fuel depot that was not supposed to pump fuel for outsiders, engaged in business. The government should be ashamed of this situation, the trade union leader said, pointing out the country was heading for chaos.

The Island yesterday afternoon brought Ananada Palitha’s allegations to the notice of Lalith Weeratunga, Senior Advisor to the President,Gotabaya Rajapaksa

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Energy cooperation sought from Saudi Arabia on urgent basis



Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris has requested Charge d’ Affaires of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Abdulelah A. A. Orkobi, to facilitate Environment Minister Naseer Ahamed to visit Saudi Arabia from July 02-05 as Special Envoy of the President of Sri Lanka.The request was made when the envoy called on Prof Peiris at the Foreign Ministry on Thursday (30).

At the meeting, Foreign Minister Peiris briefed the Saudi envoy on the current economic situation, including fuel shortage and its negative impact on all sectors in Sri Lanka. Prof. Peiris sought avenues for energy cooperation with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as an utmost urgent matter.

Charge d’ Affaires of Saudi Embassy Orkobi, emphasized the importance attached to the Sri Lanka – Saudi bilateral relationship and assured all possible support to Sri Lanka, at this juncture.

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‘Halting assistance’: Japanese envoy reassures Prez



Japanese Ambassador Hideaki Mizukoshi yesterday (01) met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa against the backdrop of reports that Japan wouldn’t provide financial assistance due to the possibility of such being mismanaged.A section of the media quoted the Japanese envoy having said so at a meeting with a group of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) members during a recent visit to the north.

Subsequent to the meeting at the President’s House, the President’s Office said that the Japanese envoy reassured the President of their support to the proposed IMF programme with Sri Lanka and bilateral development assistance.

However, the Japanese embassy didn’t issue a statement on the meeting though it regularly issued statements on a range of issues.

Recently Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Japan Sanjiv Gunasekera suddenly quit the top diplomatic posting. The government has nominated former Foreign Secretary Admiral Jayanath Colombage as Gunasekera’s successor.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s Office has sought a clarification from the Japanese embassy regarding the controversial declaration and received an assurance that the envoy didn’t say so at the meeting with the TNA (SF)

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