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Church leaders welcome release of parish sacristan

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Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith blesses a memorial dedicated to the 279 people killed in the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks, at the main cemetery in Colombo

The Catholic Church leaders have welcomed the release of a parish sacristan on Feb. 9, a month after he was detained on the suspicion of planting a hand grenade inside his church.

Selvadore Francis Munindran and three others, including a nine-year-old child, were detained on Jan. 11 after a live grenade was found inside the All Saints Church near Colombo.

The grenade recovery and arrests happened three days ahead of the local Church’s commemoration of the 1,000th day of the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings.

Colombo Additional Magistrate Rajindra Jayasuriya ordered Munindran’s release after the government’s legal representative told the court that no criminal charges were being pressed against the suspect due to insufficient evidence.

The three other suspects in the case were released a week earlier.

Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith had protested the arrests of “innocent people” in the case and even boycotted the official Independence Day celebration. He also met Munindran while he was under detention on Feb. 4.

Church officials say police arrested those who reported the crime than identifying the real culprits.

Munindran was instrumental in preventing a blast at the church, said Father Jude Chrisantha, the archdiocesan director of mass communication.

“He is a gentleman and the Cardinal Ranjith had visited him to express the Church’s gratitude to him,” he said.

Neville Abeyratne, the President’s counsel and attorney-at-law said that although it was initially reported that the hand grenade was planted by church workers, their innocence had now been confirmed.

“There is no need for the Catholic church or the cardinal to keep a bomb in the church,” he said.

Abeyratne called for further investigations to uncover the truth behind the incident and the arrests of the real culprits behind it.

He said the incident reveals “a dangerous situation that raises serious suspicions” because the grenade was found near the residence of Cardinal Ranjith.

The Catholic Church, led by Cardinal Ranjith,  has been highly critical of the manner in which the Sri Lankan government went about the investigations into the Easter bombings and the conspiracy behind them.

Nuwan Fernando, a Catholic businessman from Colombo, pointed out that the grenade incident had come days after Cardinal Ranjith had hinted at the possibility of another politically motivated attack.

“We believe that politicians wanted to create a misleading story but God prevented it from happening,” said Fernando who was present at a rally marking the 1,000th day of the Easter Sunday bombings. (UCAN)



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Speaker proposes how to steer SL out of crisis

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Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena has handed over a set of proposals to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, spelling out how to resolve country’s economic crisis.The proposals made by the Speaker pertain to a number of important sectors and highlight the importance of providing relief to low income groups.

The Speaker has said Sri Lankans working or doing business overseas or foreign investors depositing USD 100,000 with the Central Bank for a period of two years should be paid a 10% interest per annum in Sri Lankan rupees and allowed to credit the interest to any account preferred by the depositor. He also proposes that the government issue a vehicle import licence worth USD 25,000, six months after an individual makes a fixed deposit while also allowing him to pay a standard tax of USD 10,000 to the government for that vehicle.Speaker Abeywardena has proposed how to reduce energy costs, release adequate stocks of LP gas to the market, boost domestic production food production, stabilise the banking system.

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MR had not decided to resign on 09 May, says Weerasekra

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

SLPP MP Rear Admiral (retd.) Sarath Weerasekera says Prime Minster Mahinda Rajapaksa had not decided to resign on 09 May 09 although the SLPP MPs had been asked to bring supporters to Temple Trees for a meeting.Weerasekera said so when The Island asked him why he had skipped the Temple Trees meeting.One-time Public Security Minister said that the then PM Rajapaksa had, during a conversation with him on 08 May had denied reports that the latter was planning to resign the following day. MP Namal Rajapaksa, however, had asked a group of MPs and others to bring supporters to express support for the PM, MP Weerasekera said.

Weerasekera said he had been among those contacted by MP Namal Rajapaksa.The former Navy Chief of Staff said that the failure on the part of law enforcement authorities and the military to respond swiftly and decisively to a threat of breach of law and order had led to a disaster at time global attention was on Sri Lanka due to the deteriorating financial situation.MP Weerasekera questioned why police had refrained from firing at least once into the air when mobs arrived at some MPs’ houses, which were destroyed. For over 48 hours mobs had ruled the country, the MP alleged, demanding an explanation why shoot-on-sight orders had not been issued as soon as mobs started to attack MPs’ houses.MP Weerasekera said that serious accusations made by SLPP members, particularly Wimal Weerawansa, Dr. Ramesh Pathirana and Mahindananda Aluthgamage couldn’t be ignored. They accused some sections of the SLPP of conspiring to unleash violence and the police and the armed forces turning a blind eye to countrywide retaliatory attacks.

Newly-appointed Public Security Minister Tiran Alles said that he would order a thorough probe into the May 09 incidents. Minister Alles said so when The Island asked him what he would do against the backdrop of allegations of the police facilitating attacks on protesting public in the Kollupitiya and Fort police areas.MPs, Weerawansa and Dr. Ramesh Pathirana alleged in Parliament that Maj. Gen. Jagath Alwis, Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration and C. D. Wickremaratne, Inspector General of Police prevented Deshabandu Tennakoon, Senior DIG, Colombo from mob attacks on the protesting public.

Former Minister Weerasekera said that the government, the SLPP and the police should come clean on this matter. MP Weerasekera said that the government mishandled the challenge posed by those who cleverly exploited the economic crisis. “Perhaps one of the major blunders was allowing the public to block roads. Now, it has become a style. Interested parties also exploit the media and social media. The government seems clueless,” MP Weerasekera said, urging the government to review the developments.MP Mahindananda Aluthgamage, too, told The Island, the top SLPP leadership ignored repeated warnings. The former Agriculture Minister questioned whether those who had advised the Cabinet of Ministers chaired by the President deliberately deceived them.

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Lankan-born Cassandra elected to Australian Parliament

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She beat another candidate of Sri Lankan origin, Ranj Perera

Cassandra Fernando of Sri Lankan descent has been elected to the Australian Parliament.Cassandra, an advocate for essential workers and the Federal Labor Candidate for Holt.She migrated to Australia with her family when she was 11.She began working at Woolies Dandenong Plaza as a teenager. She now represents workers in the retail and fast food industries, fighting to improve their pay and conditions. She has also volunteered to tutor migrants and refugees from non-English speaking backgrounds so they can make the best of every opportunity.

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