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Civil group demands HRCSL intervention in Madush killing

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…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.

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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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