Dismissal of nearly dozen high-profile cases:
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Civil society group, Purawesi Balaya, told the media at Rajagiriya on Wednesday (31) that the Attorney General’s Department as well as the CIABOC (Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption) owed an explanation regarding the dismissal of several high-profile cases due to shortcomings on their part.
The AG and the CIABOC owed an immediate explanation and the public had a right to know, Purawesi Balaya spokesman Gamini Viyangoda said. Flanked by attorney-at-law K.W. Janaranjana and Prof. Sarath Wijesuriya, Viyangoda emphasised that the AG and CIABOC should bear the responsibility for taking remedial measures. Would the AG and CIABOC reexamine the cases and initiate fresh proceedings if dismissals were caused by flaws on the part of the institutions? Viyangoda asked.
The civil society activist said that the issue at hand should be examined against the backdrop of the enactment of the 20th Amendment at the expense of the 19th Amendment.
Referring to recent criticism of those who flayed the government over alleged destruction of state forests, including Sinharaja, Viyangoda said that the government conveniently branded all its critics as traitors. The conduct of the AG, CIABOC as well as other institutions and sectors had to be studied in post 20th Amendment enactment as the President exercised powers hitherto shared with the Parliament and the judiciary.
Viyangoda said that the CIABOC owed an explanation as to how the decision to drop all charges against former lawmaker and Foreign Ministry Monitoring MP Sajin Vass Gunawardena pertaining to Mihin Lanka case was arrived at. That particular case dealt with misappropriation of public funds amounting to Rs 883 mn, he said, while referring to recent dismissal of cases involving one-time Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pilleyan, Johnston Fernando, Rohitha Abeygunawardena, Basil Rajapaksa, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Janaka Bandara Tennakoon and former Chief Justice Mohan Peiris. The former CJ ended up as Sri Lanka’s top representative in New York.
Noting that Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, unlike his predecessors, had been constantly present in both print and electronic media, Viyangoda said that the public shouldn’t be deprived of an opportunity to know the truth. If the AG and CIABOC realised their institutions were at fault, they should accept responsibility, Viyangoda said, pointing out that all those who benefited were members of the government or those connected with it.
Viyangoda pointed out that Jayantha Jayasuriya, the AG during whose tenure legal proceedings had been initiated against those above mentioned persons was now the head of the judiciary, in his capacity as the Chief Justice. Viyangoda said that it would be interesting to know whether the CIABOC and AG examined any other cases other than those of government personalities.
The civil society activist, who through their group Purawesi Balaya backed the previous UNP government even after bond scams and other grave transgressions said that on one hand those who had been under investigation and hauled up before courts were cleared whereas government cronies perpetrated unprecedented corruption. Claiming that the massive scam in slashing of duty on sugar imports revealed at the Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) chaired by government member Anura Priyadarshana Yapa and the murderous racket in importing of contaminated coconut oil highlighted the pathetic state of affairs. In spite of exposure of such despicable frauds, the government simply went ahead with its projects regardless of the consequences, Viyangoda said, urging the electorate to be mindful of deadly strategies. Viyangoda also drew a parallel with scores of retired military and police personnel receiving top appointments in President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s administration and the recent military take-over of Myanmar.
Viyangoda said that the public shouldn’t be surprised if the incumbent administration resorted to punitive measures to suppress the democratic Opposition. The civil society accepted responsibility for spearheading a campaign having realized the importance of its role in post-20th Amendment period.
Viyangoda said that the vast majority of those who had voted for SLPP candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the 2019 presidential and the SLPP at the 2020 general election regreted having done so.
Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’
By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam
The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.
Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.
A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.
The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.
According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.
The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.
DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.
PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners
By Norman Palihawadane
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.
Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.
Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.
The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”
Thilo Hoffman remembered
A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.
Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.
The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.
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