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CCTV footage of suicide bombers played before PCoI

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Mohammed Azam Mohammed Mubarak and Mohammed Hastun, who blew themselves up inside the Kingsbury Hotel and at the Katuwapitiya Church respectively. On April 11 2019, they purchased nine backpacks and eight shawls that National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) members wore in the video pledging allegiance to ISIS, the PCoI probing Easter Sunday attacks was informed, on Tuesday (27).

Testifying before the PCoI, an officer attached to the CID played CCTV footage and bills pertaining to the above mentioned shops in Colombo.

“The suicide bombers visited Decathlon, a sports shop in Battaramulla to purchase backpacks and a shop in Grandpass, Colombo 14 to get the shawls,” the CID officer said.

They had stayed in a safe house at Paraththa Road, Panadura before the attack, the witness said.

The CID also found empty polythene bags with ball bearings, vehicle number plates, a bill from a car park in Negombo and several empty chemical cans from the Panadura safe house.

The CID officer said: “The NTJ members hired a lorry from a cab service at Boralesgamuwa to transfer materials from Panadura to Kalmunai on April 20, 2019 and the information provided by the cab driver allowed the CID to detect the safe house in Kalmunai.”

The owner of the Panadura safe house, Abdul Mohammed Ilaham, testifying before the PCoI said that on February 2, 2019 two NTJ members had signed the agreement to rent his house. The NTJ members had advanced Rs. 480,000, he said.

Earlier it was revealed that 12 NTJ members had remained in the East to carry out a second wave of attacks in August 2019.

The witness, an SIS officer, whose name cannot be divulged due to a request made by the PCoI, said the NTJ had maintained eight safe houses in the East and they had stockpiled explosives.

He said: “The white clothes that were brought from Giriulla a few days before the attacks were to be worn by those who were to carry out the second wave of attacks. They were planning to attack the Kandy Esala Perahera. The 12 terrorists killed in Sainthamaruthu were to carry it out.”

The witness added that if attacking Kandy Esala Perahera was not possible, NTJ members would have attacked other temples. If the SIS, the police, army and the STF had not carried out a combined operation in the East after April 21, 2019 and eradicated those who were to carry out the second wave; there would have been disastrous consequences, he said.

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PSC action could cripple health services, warns GMOA Secretary

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There were vacancies for 89 specialist doctors in government teaching hospitals due to certain actions taken by the Public Service Commission (PSC), the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) said yesterday.

GMOA secretary Dr. Senal Fernando yesterday told The Island those vacancies had the potential to cripple the state health service, as the service was stressed due to COVID-19.

Dr. Fernando said: “Specialist doctors are appointed and transfered according to procedures established by the Health Service Minute. The Ministry of Health is responsible for the transfers and the PSC should oversee the transfering process to ensure that they are made in a proper manner.”

“The PSC has ordered the appointment of a committee to look into the matter but there is no mention of such a committee in the Health Service Minute. Instead of following the process, the PSC has tried to intervene in the process and 89 posts remain vacant during the time of COVID-19,” he said.

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Hizbullah denies links with Zahran

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But signed agreement for Zahran’s help in 2015 GE

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Former Governor of the Eastern Province, M. L. A. M. Hizbullah on Monday night told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) probing Easter Sunday attacks, that he had not had any links to National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zahran Hashim. The NTJ members had assaulted his supporters at Kattankudy in March 2017, he said.

Hizbullah said so when the Commissioners asked him about his links with Zahran.

Hizbullah was also asked about billions of rupees he had received from foreign organisations since 2016. Earlier in the day, it was revealed that close to Rs. 4 billion had been deposited by foreign individuals and institutions in two accounts Hizbullah operated at the Bank of Ceylon Colpetty Branch from 2016 to 2019.

The witness said the Sri Lanka Hira Foundation, a social service institution run by him, had received money from foreign countries after March 2016.

“Ali Abdullah al-Juffali of Saudi Arabia gave Rs. 308 million and Siddique and Diana Osmond of London gave Rs. 5.5 million,” he said.

Hizbullah added that he knew al-Juffali and some other Saudi philanthropists. Al Juffali family was one of the richest Saudis with an estimated worth USD 19.8 billion, he said.

Then, a video of a discussion Zahran had with Sibli Farooq of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress was played at the PCoI.

The video showed Zahran and Farooq talking about a sum of one million riyals that Hizbullah had allegedly received from Saudi Arabia. In the video, Zahran says that he had no problem with Hizbullah receiving money from Saudi Arabia.

In response, Hizbullah said that by the 2015 Presidential election, Farooq and Zahran had been against him. A member of the Commission then asked why Hizbullah had entered into an agreement with Zahran during an election if he had acted against him.

Hizbullah said Zahran had told, on social media, that he would support politicians who agreed to some of his proposals.” All the parties joined him. I also went along,” he said. Earlier, it was revealed that representatives for the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC,) Democratic Party, UNP, UPFA and National Front for Good Governance (NFGG) had signed agreements with Zahran in exchange for the support of NTJ in 2015.

Hizbullah was also questioned on the Aliyar clash between NTJ and Sunnath Wal Jamaat, a group that supported Hizbullah, on 10 March, 2017.

“Did you ask Zahran to surrender to the court through his mother?” a member of the Commission questioned.

“I made no such comment. I do not know if anyone in my party did so,” he said.

The Commissioners also asked Hizbullah about growing date palms in the Kattankudy area and placing Arabic billboards.

The witness replied that he had grown date palms because of the high temperatures in the area. Nameplates with Arabic letters had been put up to attract Arabic students as they were largely visiting the area, he said.

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CA annuls summons issued on President

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The Court of Appeal yesterday annulled the summons issued on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the disappearance of two persons in Jaffna in 2011.

Lalith Kumar Weeraraj and Kugan Muruganathan went missing in 2011. Last year, Jaffna Magistrate’s Court issued summons on Rajapaksa over a habeas corpus petition filed by the relatives of the two missing activists. They had named Rajapaksa one of the respondents since he was the Defence Secretary at the time of the disappearances.

Earlier, Rajapaksa had submitted a writ application stating that he found it difficult to appear before the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court due to security reasons. The Court of Appeal issued an injunction preventing Rajapaksa being summoned by the Magistrate.

President of the Court of Appeal A. H. M. D. Nawaz, declaring their decision, said that a Magistrate’s Court could only issue summons over a specific reason. However the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court had issued the summons based on a motion of a lawyer and that there was no legal basis for the summons. Thus, the Court of Appeal issued a writ notification declaring the summons issued by the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court void.

 

 

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