…asks for an end to taking suspects out without court approval
By Shamindra Ferdinando
It is being asked in legal circles whether there have been lapses on the part of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), conducting investigations, as regards the criminal gang led by Samarasinghe Arachchige Madush Lakshitha aka Makandure Madush, who had been in the custody of the CID since May 5, 2019.
The CID handed over Madush to the CCD on Oct 16 on a directive given by Acting IGP C.D. Wickramaratne.
The CID is also embroiled in controversy over the controversial release of Easter Sunday suspect Riyaj Bathiudeen. Its former bosses are subjected to an internal inquiry.
Authoritative police sources acknowledged that the CID hadn’t made significant recoveries during the period (May 5, 2019-Oct 16, 2020) Madush was in its custody in terms of Detention Orders.
Within 36 hours after the CCD took over the investigation, interrogation of Madush and another notorious gangster Shabdeen Mohamed Zubair led to the recovery of 10 kilos of heroin stashed in a garage in Kotikawatte.
Police spokesman attorney-at-law Ajith Rohana yesterday (23) said that simultaneous questioning of the suspects facilitated the latest recovery. DIG Rohana said that Zubair had been among four persons taken into custody at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) on Aug 23, 2020 when they were about to leave the country.
Zubair had been previously described as a close associate of late Angoda Lokka who died in India under mysterious circumstances recently.
DIG Rohana said that the CCD made a major breakthrough when Zubair and Makandure Madush were questioned together.
In two audio clips released to the media on Oct 17 and 20, DIG Rohana explained how Madush had been caught up in a firefight between policemen accompanying Madush to an apartment in the Maligawatte police area in the early hours of 20th. Reference was made to interrogation of Zubair and Madush leading to the recovery of 10 kg of heroin stashed in a garage at Kotikawatte. During the raid on the apartment, the CCD recovered 22 kg of heroin, according to the police spokesman.
Arrested in Dubai on Feb 5, 2019, Madush was handed over to Sri Lanka on May 5, 2019. Among those who had been arrested along with Makandure Madush in Dubai were notorious gangster Mohamed Najeem Imran alias ‘Kanjipani Imran’, a 52-year-old Prisons Department officer, singer Amal Perera and his son, Nadeemal, also upcoming member of the music industry.
DIG Rohana, in his first comments in the wake of Maligawatte shooting alleged that Makandure Madush had been involved in a spate of killings, including 2006 hit on Chairman of Southern Development Authority Danny Hittatiya. He was killed on July 11, 2006 near his residence at Makandure, Matara. In May last year, the police arrested Sunil Premaratne alias ‘Eta Indika’ widely described as a close associate of Makandure Madush in connection with Danny Hittatiya’s killing.
The police claimed that Harsha C. Yasashri, who had been involved in the Hittatiya killing was gunned down at Obeysekerapura, Rajagiriya on March 7, 2016. ‘Eta Indika’ and Yasashri are widely believed to be the hitmen responsible for Matara assassination ordered by Makandure Madush.
Meanwhile, the Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners yesterday (23) requested immediate intervention of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) to conduct a transparent inquiry into the Makandure Madush killing. Secretary of the rights group Sudesh Nandimal Silva told The Island that they handed over the complaint, in addition to it being emailed. Nandimal alleged law enforcement authorities were making an attempt to suppress the truth.
Attorney-at-law Senaka Perera, who is the President of the Committee, and its Secretary Nandimal Silva, in a joint letter addressed to HRCSL Chairman alleged that law enforcement authorities killed and subjected those in their custody to torture in violation of 13(4) of the country’s Constitution. Pointing out that there had been spate of extra-judicial killings during 2010-2015 period, they alleged that the recent killing of Makandure Madush was an extension of the previous government policy. They emphasised that killings in police custody couldn’t be justified under any circumstances.
The Committee reminded the HRCSL of its responsibility to ensure the protection of those in government custody.
Having explained how the country violated both local and international laws as regards those in government custody, the committee requested the HRCSL to recommend the contentious practice of taking suspects on missions to recover weapons or other items without having prior approval of the judiciary.
The committee warned that the failure on the part of the government to ensure the protection of those in its custody would cause deterioration of public confidence in the legal system.
Gymnastics Ireland ‘deeply sorry’ to Black girl ignored at medal ceremony
Ireland’s gymnastics federation has apologised for the allegedly racist treatment of a young Black gymnast who was skipped by an official handing out medals to a row of girls last year.
Footage posted on social media last week of an event in Dublin in 2022 showed the official appearing to snub the girl, the only Black gymnast in the lineup, who looked bewildered.
“We would like to unreservedly apologise to the gymnast and her family for the upset that has been caused by the incident,” Gymnastics Ireland (GI) said in a statement posted on its website on Monday.
“What happened on the day should not have happened and for that we are deeply sorry,” said the statement. “We would like to make it absolutely clear that [GI] condemns any form of racism whatsoever,” it added.
The video posted on Friday soon went viral and drew widespread condemnation of the girl’s treatment, including from star United States gymnast Simone Biles, who said she sent the girl a private video message of support.
“It broke my heart to see the video. There is no room for racism in any sport or at all,” Biles, a seven-time Olympic medalist, said Saturday on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Biles’s US teammate Jordan Chiles described the incident as “beyond hurtful on so many levels”.
In an earlier statement, GI defended the official who it said had made an “honest error” but acknowledged it received a complaint from the parents of the girl alleging racist behaviour in March 2022.
GI said an independent mediation had led to a “resolution agreed by both parties in August 2023”, that the official had written an apology and that the girl had received her medal after the ceremony.
However, the Irish Independent on Sunday anonymously quoted the girl’s mother as saying GI had failed to publicly apologise and that she would take the issue to the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation in Switzerland.
Welcome to Ireland where people get away with racism! This little black girl broke my heart. Don’t skip this post without leaving a million heart for her. Make her famous… pic.twitter.com/YYMIP1IALZ
— Mohamad Safa (@mhdksafa) September 22, 2023
SJB: State audit vindicates no-faith motion against Keheliya, remedial measures urgently required
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Opposition MP Harshana Rajakaruna yesterday (25) said those who had defeated the no-confidence motion (NCM) against Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella should peruse the latest State audit report on the Health Ministry.
The Gampaha District SJB MP said the Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) at a recent meeting chaired by State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna had strongly criticised the Health Ministry over the continuing waste, corruption, irregularities and mismanagement exposed by the National Audit Office (NAO). The Parliamentary Watchdog Committee emphasised that Health Ministry explanations/responses to the issues at hand were not acceptable.
Dr. G. Wijesuriya, Deputy Director General (Medical Services 11) at the Health Ministry had cut a pathetic figure by trying to defend politicians and officials responsible for the sorry state of affairs in the health sector, MP Rajakaruna said, adding that Dr. Wijesuriya failed to explain how 97 doctors had been allowed to serve in the Health Ministry though the cadre was only 37.
The Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government acted as if the defeat of the NCM by a majority of 40 votes had been an endorsement of Health Minister Rambukwella’s actions, MP Rajakaruna said.
A total of 113 MPs voted against the NCM while 73 MPs voted in favour. Thirty-eight lawmakers skipped the vote taken on 08 September.
The NAO report should be examined against the backdrop of the dismissal of Opposition concerns over the continuing deterioration of the public health sector, the former UNPer said. That report was nothing but an indictment of a vital ministry, lawmaker Rajakaruna said, pointing out massive waste particularly at a time of unprecedented financial crisis was an unpardonable crime.
Minister Rambukwella, Health Secretary Janaka Sri Chandragupta and Director General of Health Services (DGHS) Asela Gunawardena owed an explanation how they allowed such waste and corruption as the government struggled to maintain basic and essential services. Referring to the damning NAO report, MP Rajakaruna said that Rs 349,025,664 worth medicine, equipment and other items had been discarded during 2022 due to low quality while all state hospitals experienced severe shortage of drugs. According to the report, the use of medicine, equipment and other items worth Rs 31,751,024 had been temporarily stopped due to concerns over quality but by the time the Health Ministry took a decision in this regard, such medicines were already issued to patients.
During COPA proceedings, SJB MP Hector Appuhamy questioned the Health Ministry top management why the State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) continued to make emergency purchases thereby wasting precious public funds.
COPA Chairman Alagiyawanna and Attorney General W.P.C. Wickremaratne, who is also the ex-officio Chairman of the Audit Service Commission (ASC), appointed after the change of government, censured the top management of the Health Ministry for its failures at all levels, MP Rajakaruna said.
The Opposition lawmaker said that the ACS should vigorously pursue this investigation. The ASC consists of W.P.C. Wickramaratne, retired Justice Nihal Sunil Rajapaksa, Mrs. Nandaseeli Godakanda, Gnananantharajah Thevagnanan and A M Dharmajith Nayanakantha.
MP Rajakaruna said that the Health Ministry also admitted before COPA that 957 doctors had left the country between the period of August 2022 and August 2023. Of them, 526 had taken long leave, 163 resigned and 197 vacated their posts, the lawmaker said, adding that instead of addressing the issues at hand taking tangible measures to reassure medical professionals, the government played politics with the developing crisis.
The SJB spokesperson recalled how Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, during the three-day debate on the NCM, stressed that the Opposition accusations directed at Minister Rambukwella were unsubstantiated. The Premier had no qualms in declaring that there was no basis for the NCM and the Opposition was making an effort to deceive the public, MP Rajakaruna said, urging MEP leader Dinesh Gunawardena to examine the NAO report. President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Premier Gunawardena should deal with the crisis in the health sector without further delay, the MP said, warning the failure to do so would result in a catastrophe.
MP Rajakaruna asked Premier Gunawardena to read his declarations during the debate. The NAO report has endorsed the NCM regardless of the outcome of the vote, MP Rajakaruna said.
Bishop Valence Mendis accuses govt. of playing games
By Norman Paliahawadane
Kandy Diocese Bishop and Chilaw Apostolic Administrator Rt. Rev. Dr. Valence Mendis says it is ludicrous that the government has chosen to appoint more committees to probe the Easter Sunday terror attacks instead of implementing the recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry, which probed the carnage. Delivering his sermon at the Holy Mass offered at the Holy Cross, National Shrine, Marawila last week, Bishop Valence Mendis said the government authorities for the past four and half years had engaged in futile exercises wasting time and public funds in the name of probing the Easter Sunday attacks. Now, it was very clear that the government had no genuine desire to find the truth or deliver justice to the victims and their family members. Just another committee was the latest joke of a series of such gags. “If they are genuinely concerned about delivering justice then they should implement the recommendations of the PCoI. We are sure that authorities did nothing about more than 80 percent of recommendations of the PCoI to ensure justice,” the Bishop said.
Treasurer of the Kandy Diocese Rev. Fr. Nelson Samantha, Rev. Fr. Peter Charles, and Administrator of the Shrine Rev. Fr. Niranjan Dayalal were present.
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