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Church in quandary over outgoing AG’s incriminatory claims, seeks explanation

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… AG Department’s culpability, too, raised

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Catholic Church was in a deepening quandary over the outgoing Attorney General Dappula de Livera’s shocking declaration that he couldn’t move court in respect of suspects due to the failure on the part of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to complete investigations into the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks, Rev. Cyril Gamini Fernando said on Tuesday (18).

President’s Counsel de Livera owed an explanation without further delay as the people were led to believe the investigations were on track until the bombshell claim was made, Rev Fernando said.

The AG on May 15 declared that he was not in a position to present charges or indictments against those who conspired and also aided and abetted.

The AG is scheduled to retire on May 25.

Rev. Fernando said that the AG’s serious accusation directed at the CID should be examined against the backdrop of him handling the Easter Sunday inquiry right from its inception. The Church spokesman said: “Solicitor General de Livera received an Acting appointment a week after the Easter Sunday carnage followed by approval by the then Constitutional Council. Having followed the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) report that dealt with the Easter Sunday carnage as well as the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) dossier we are aware of the failure on the part of the AG’s Department in 2017 to act on information provided by the police in respect of suicide bomber Zahran Hashim. Did the AG’s Department inquire into the very serious lapse on their part before the disclosure at the PSC?”

Livera succeeded Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC, who received appointment as the Chief Justice.

Responding to another query, Rev Fernando, who is also the parish priest of Kurana St. Anne’s Church said that the PSC and PCoI revealed how the AG’s Department literally sat on that particular file for two years. Was it negligence or could there be some other explanation, Rev Fernando asked, urging the current political leadership, those who been at the helm at the time of the blasts, the AG and the police to clarify matters.

Examination of parliamentary debate on the Easter attacks and other related statements made in Parliament this year underscored the need to review (i) the developments in the run-up to the 2019 Easter carnage, (ii) coordinated multiple attacks and (iii) the post-incident scenario, Rev. Fernando said.

Rev. Fernando noted that Public Security Minister Rear Admiral (retd) Sarath Weerasekera is on record as having said that he called for a report from the CID in the wake of the AG’s latest allegation.

Rev Fernando said that the Catholic Church was seriously worried about the status of the investigation and the judicial proceedings as no less a person than the AG who bore the primary responsibility in this regard had faulted the country’s premier investigation agency.

Referring to a spate of changes at the CID since the change of government in Nov 2019, Rev. Fernando questioned who would take the responsibility for negligence on the part of the AG’s Department, shoddy handling of investigations as alleged by the AG and the political leadership’s accountability in that regard.

Rev. Fernando noted that the high profile intervention made by the AG in October last year when the CID quietly released Riyajj Bathiudeen, who had been arrested in April 2020 in connection with the Easter Sunday attacks. Then again the suspect had been re-arrested in April this year in terms of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), Rev. Fernando pointed out. Regardless of the person at the helm at the AG’s Department, the public expected tangible measures to bring the perpetrators of the heinous crime to justice.

Acting Solicitor General Sanjay Rajaratnam has been nominated as de Livera’s successor.

Shammil Perera, PC, represented the interests of the Catholic Church at the P CoI, Rev Fernando said, urging the political leadership to ensure no holds barred investigation.

The Church felt the need to vigorously take up the issue at hand in spite of the crisis the country was facing due to the alarming increase in the number of Covid-19 deaths and the positive cases, Rev Fernando said.

Referring to an exclusive interview the outgoing AG had with Sirasa,(when?) Rev Fernando said that President’s Counsel de Livera should explain what he really meant by the Easter Sunday carnage was a massive conspiracy. Having perused both the PSC and the P CoI and plethora of other reports, the AG had now gone on record that those foreigners allegedly involved in the Easter Sunday project would never be legally dealt with.

Rev Fernando said that they were also quite surprised by the AG’s declaration that though Naufer Maulavi was a key conspirator and leader of the group he couldn’t be still considered the mastermind. This was very much contrary to what the Public Security Minister said both in and out of the Parliament. Responding to another query, the Church spokesperson said that the claim of a massive conspiracy had been in the backdrop of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) receiving specific intelligence relating to the Easter attacks.

He had discussed the matter with Archbishop of Colombo Rt. Rev. Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and a decision was made to talk with other interested parties. The Church believed the delay in addressing the post-Easter Sunday issues and bringing the investigation into a successful conclusion posed a serious threat to national security, Rev Fernando said.



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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman

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Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand

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At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night

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President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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