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Arrested and remanded:



Now, Bathiudeen has to face money laundering charges

By Norman Palihawadane and Hiran Seneviratne

Police yesterday commenced a special operation to arrest those who had been aiding and abetting former minister and SJB MP Rishad Bathiudeen to evade arrest, Police Media Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said.

Bathiudeen was remanded yesterday evening after being arrested in Dehiwala.

DIG Rohana said seven persons including a female doctor in whose house MP Bathiudeen had been hiding had been taken into custody. Her husband, a private tutor, had also been taken into custody, the DIG said.

Among other suspects was a foreign employment agent who had escorted the MP from one hiding place to another, the DIG said. The owner of the house from where the MP was arrested is still missing.

The female doctor and her husband were tenants in the apartment, where Bathiudeen was hiding.

“Some more persons are to be taken into custody,” the police spokesman said.

DIG Rohana said the arrest had been made around 3 am by a CID team who traced Bathiudeen to Ebenezer Place in Dehiwala.

He was taken into custody based on the Attorney General’s instructions to the police on Oct 13 to arrest him on charges of misappropriating public funds by using 222 SLTB buses to provide transport facilities to the displaced people in the Puttalam area to cast their votes in the 2019 Presidential Election.

MP Bathiudeen, Project director Mohamed Yaseen Samsudeen and project accountant Alagarathnam Manoranjan are accused of violating Article 82(1) of Presidential Elections Act, No. 15 of 1981 by misappropriating public funds.

The CID, on the direction of the Attorney General, requested the Colombo Fort Magistrate to issue an arrest warrant on MP Bathiudeen and the other two suspects on charges of criminal misappropriation of public funds and violation of election laws.

However, the Magistrate ruled that the Police could arrest the suspects without a warrant for violation of public property. Thereby, Attorney General Livera directed the Police to arrest the three suspects according to the law.

MP Bathiudeen had filed a writ application through a lawyer seeking an order from the Court of Appeal to prevent his arrest.

AG’s coordinating officer State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne told The Island that Attorney General Livera had advised the CID to place MP Bathiudeen under surveillance 24 hours before the issuing of the directive to arrest the former minister.

State Counsel Jayaratne said that the arrest of MP Bathiudeen was not something that had happened suddenly. 

She said that 24 hours before the Attorney General’s advice pertaining to the arrest was provided in writing to the CID officers and the Acting IGP, the AG had summoned the CID officers and verbally instructed them to make preparation.

The Attorney General had advised the high-raking CID officers to carry out suitable surveillance on MP Bathiudeen and to stay alert regarding him, 24 hours before the advice was handed in writing, the AG’s coordinating office said. 

She said that if the CID officers had followed the AG’s verbal advice of pre-preparation and had carried out proper surveillance activities, the suspect would not have been able to flee.

The Attorney General yesterday provided the Acting IGP with further advice in writing with regard to the criminal investigation against MP Bathiudeen and also met with the investigative officers of the CID.

It was revealed during that discussion that the CID is also carrying out investigations regarding over 10 more incidents related to MP Bathiudeen, State Counsel Jayaratne said.

The AG presented the Acting IGP with detailed information pertaining to those investigations and issued instructions to conduct further investigations under the offence of Money Laundering and also to appoint a special team of experienced and knowledgeable officers to carry out the investigations efficiently and thoroughly. 

The AG also instructed to carry out criminal investigations against all individuals who had aided and abetted MP Bathiudeen to evade arrest and remain in hiding and to report to the court.

AG de Livera instructed to specially investigate into the individuals who held press conferences and made statements that the former minister was in hiding, she said.

The AG also called for reports on the progress in investigations within the next two weeks.


Sajith blames ‘Viyathmaga doc’



Cause of Mahara Prison riot:

By Saman Indrajith

The recent Mahara Prison riot erupted as 120 inmates afflicted with COVID-19 had been taken there from the Welikada prison at the behest of a Director in charge of prisoners’ health, who was a Viyathmaga member, Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa told Parliament yesterday.

“Many explanations have been given by ministers about the riot at Mahara Prison. The number of deaths is not yet known and around 120 are wounded. One minister said that there was an invisible hand behind the clashes. Another said the motive was to bring the government into disrepute internationally. A theory was concocted that prisoners had taken some narcotic tablets called Reverse and they and fought because they wanted to see blood. But the truth is otherwise. The real cause is that 120 inmates infected with coronavirus were transferred to Mahara from the Welikada prison at the behest of a director in charge of prisoners’ health. That director is a member of the Viyathmaga. Those who were transferred to Mahara prison caused a cluster of 183 persons. As the infection spread fast there was unrest and tension. That was the reason for Mahara riots.”

He said that ministers had their own theories, but one day the truth would surface. “I hope that the ministerial committee appointed to probe the riots will conduct an impartial investigation and they will reveal the truth.”

“Prisoners have rights. I do not wish that this country would permit the perpetuation of the killing culture and state terrorism. The government members should keep in mind that there is a concept called rule of law and we all are expected to uphold it. So, we should dump those theories of Reverse tablets and strive to find the truth.”

Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera: The health officer in charge of Mahara Prison is not a member of Viyathmaga.

Opposition Leader Premadasa: I did not say so. What I said was that 120 inmates were transferred from Welikada prison to the Mahara prison violating COVID-19 protocols. That order to transfer those had been given by a doctor who is a member of Viyathmaga. I do not mention his name. You can easily find it.

Chief Government Whip Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said that the Opposition leader talked of lofty ideals of prisoners’ welfare but the yahapalana government had failed to construct at least a single prison to ease the congestion in the prisons. “When I was incarcerated by your government, I was in a cell with 51 other inmates. There was no place to sleep. In the Kegalle prison, they put 225 in a hall enough for 50 inmates. The former government pre-occupied with the task of constructing new courts to imprison its political enemies but did not build a single prison for the benefit of inmates.”

Opposition Leader Premadasa: We did not want to build prisons, we built schools. Mahatma Gandhi has once said that when you open a single school, thousand prisons could be closed. We followed that.

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‘It will take four years to ensure quality of drinking water from small projects’



By Saman Indrajith

The safety of drinking water from small scale community drinking water projects could guaranteed only after the implementation of a project to check the quality of water and that would take four years, Water Supply Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara told Parliament yesterday.

The Minister said so, when Matara District SJB MP Buddhika Pathirana pointed out that although the safety of drinking water from the National Water Supply and Drainage Board was guaranteed the same could not be said of water from small scale projects.

“There are many harmful elements in water such as lead, cadmium and mercury. We know that Water Board supplied water is purified, but water from small scale project could be contaminated with them. It is said that mercury in a CFL bulb has the potential to pollute around 6,000 litres of ground water and causing kidney diseases. This is a dangerous situation. One trillion rupees have been allocated for the Water Supply ministry. Apart from the COVID-19 threat, the biggest threat to the lives of people in this country is from non-communicable diseases. Can the ministry introduce a mechanism to provide each district with at least a single testing unit to ensure the safety of drinking water supplied by the small scale community drinking water projects.”

Water Supply Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara said that safety of water from the Water Board was guaranteed owing to sophisticated purification methods employed by treatment plants. He said that it would take at least four years to provide testing units to ensure drinking water from the small scale community drinking water projects countrywide too is safe from harmful elements.

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Teachers’ Union boss Stalin accuses govt of attempting Akila’s failed stunt



By Rathindra Kuruwita

There was an attempt to create a new post, Director General – Sports, at the Ministry of Education and to appoint a political henchman, Ceylon Teachers Union (CTU) General Secretary, Joseph Stalin told The Island yesterday.

“According to the Education Administrative Service minute, any appointment has to be made through a competitive exam. However, this post has been created through a Cabinet paper and an SLPP henchman is to be appointed to it.”

The CTU General Secretary said that during the yahapalanaya administration, then Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam had tried to appoint a UNP henchman to the post of Director – Sports at the Ministry. Kariyawasam had been compelled to back off due to the stiff opposition of the education sector unions, Stalin said.

“The court has also ruled that people should be appointed in keeping with the Education Administrative Service Minute. The President came into power promising to uphold the rule of law, but this government, too, is attempting to undermine the education system by appointing unqualified people to high posts.”

The post of Director General – Sports would have the same perks of an Assistant Secretary and the person to be appointed was a person representing a government affiliated union, Stalin said.

“95% of unions of the education sector will oppose if the government creates this post for the benefit of a henchman. We will resort to trade union and legal action.”

Minister of Education, Prof. G. L. Peiris was not immediately available for comment.

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