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Colombo HC lawyers slam TT, police over recent mayhem



… demand probe into lawmaker’s killing

By Shamindra Ferdinando

President of the Colombo High Court Lawyers’ Association Lakshman Perera yesterday (13) said that Sri Lanka’s fate depended on the success of the ongoing efforts to stabilise its economy.

Attorney-at-Law Perera said all political parties, represented in Parliament and outside, including the civil society, should realise the country was in such a bad state there would be anarchy if the bid to form an interim administration failed.

Asked whether Perera, in his capacity as the President of the Colombo High Court Lawyers’ Association, endorsed the swearing in of UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister, the spokesperson said that he couldn’t take a position on the issue without consulting the membership.

Perera, however, acknowledged the responsibility on the part of all stakeholders, both in and outside the political mainstream, to reach a consensus on a viable agreement on the developing economic-political-social crisis.

The official asserted that the violence unleashed on those who had been demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the entire Cabinet of Ministers, including the Prime Minister, on Monday (09) in Kollupitiya and Fort police areas and retaliatory attacks were a grim reminder to those wielding political power at different levels.

Lawyer Perera said that an explosive situation created by unprovoked attacks carried out by those who had been at a meeting chaired by then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa were now threatening to ruin the country unless consensus on a political settlement could be reached soon.

The association, in a statement that had been issued by its President Lakshman Perera and Secretary Sarath Ekanayake before the swearing in of Wickremesinghe as the Premier roundly condemned the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) for the wanton attack on protesting public.

Estimating the number of persons wounded in indiscriminate attacks at 150, they held the Colombo police responsible for their failure to thwart the Temple Trees project. The lawyers asserted that the police had been irresponsible in their conduct therefore guilty of what they called inadequate discharge of duty.

The lawyers’ association questioned the failure on the part of the police to anticipate serious breach of peace in the wake of such a large gathering at Temple Trees or receive advance warning from the intelligence services.

In the harshest recent criticism of the police by them, the Colombo High Court Lawyers’ Association alleged that the Colombo police had unashamedly served the interests of Temple Trees rather than enforcing laws.

Following Attorney General Sanjaya Rajaratnam’s intervention, IGP C.D. Wickremaratne directed the DIG, in charge of the CID to investigate May 09 incidents.

Commenting on the police and the Special Task Force (STF) deployed at Temple Trees on the day of the incidents, the lawyers alleged that law enforcement authorities turned a blind eye to brutal attacks on protesters. They intervened only after the first wave of attacks, the lawyers alleged, urging the IGP to take responsibility and resign forthwith.

The lawyers insisted that the attacks could have been prevented by the IGP.

Warning of further escalation of protests unless growing public grievances weren’t addressed, the grouping of lawyers declared that they didn’t have faith in Prasanna Ranatunga, who served as the Public Security Minister at the time of the incidents.

Ranatunga succeeded retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera at the last round of cabinet appointments.

They alleged Ranatunga lacked the capacity to handle the May 09 attacks that triggered a spate of incidents in areas outside the Northern and Eastern Provinces. Mobs set ablaze Ranatunga’s residence in Gampaha.

The association also underscored the responsibility on the part of the government to investigate the killing of Polonnaruwa District SLPP lawmaker Amarakeerthi Atukorale in the Nittambuwa police area and his police bodyguard.

The slain MP was on his way home after attending the Temple Trees meeting when vigilantes intercepted his vehicle.

The association declared six demands namely (1) resignation of the IGP (2) legal action against Senior DIG in charge of the Western Province Deshabandu Tennakoon (3) a transparent and thorough investigation into May 09 attacks carried out on those demanding the change of government (4) Fully cooperate with the HRCSL (Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka) (5) establish rule of law (06) implementation of the Constitution and international instruments pertaining to human rights.

Warning that the public were suffering as a result of the pathetic failure of the political party system, the association said the situation would be further aggravated if those who wield political power sought to protect their interests at the expense of the national interests. The association declared that it wouldn’t hesitate to support what it called a progressive movement to establish democracy and rule of law in case the current political party system continued to fail the country.

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Govt. allows private operators to import fuel for industries – minister



ECONOMYNEXT – The Government has allowed private bunker fuel operators to import fuel for industries, Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said on Friday, in a bid to reduce the burden on cash-strapped state-run fuel retailer Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC).

The move comes as a severe dollar shortage has reduced CPC’s ability to import fuel and meet the demand as earlier amid long motorists’ queues for fuel.

“Approval was given to all the private bunker fuel operators to import and provide diesel and fuel oil requirements of industries to function their Generators and Machinery,” Wijesekera said in his Twitter platform.

“This will ease the burden on CPC and fuel stations providing in bulk. The meeting was held yesterday.”

Approval was given to all the Private Bunker Fuel Operators to Import and provide Diesel and Fuel Oil requirements of Industries to function their Generators and Machinery. This will ease the burden on CPC and Fuel Stations providing in bulk. The meeting was held yesterday.

— Kanchana Wijesekera (@kanchana_wij) May 27, 2022

In April, Sri Lanka cabinet has agreed to amend the Petroleum Products Act making provisions to issue licenses to “properly identified parties” to import fuel which will end an import monopoly held by the CPC.

There was a push to make the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) to import its own oil as the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation was unable to get foreign exchange and the power utility ran out of cash due to lack of a price increases.

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Protesters ask PM to serve justice for May 09 attack



ECONOMYNEXT – Hundreds of anti-government protesters agitated in front of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesighe ’s office Colombo demanding justice for May 09 attack by the supporters of previous prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and immediate measures to overcome ongoing economic crisis to prevent a looming social unrest.

The youth-led groups which had been protesting near presidential secretariat and prime minister’s official residence in the heart of commercial Colombo shifted neat the prime minister’s office and shouted against the new government’s inaction against the brutal attack at unarmed and peaceful protesters by Rajapaksa supporters on May 09.

They demanded the new Prime Minister Wickremesinghe to implement the rule of law without being biased to any parties and serve the country.

Rukshan, a 25 years old protester said, as per the initial demands of their protests, former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned from his position, but his successor should do his duties towards the country and the people without trying to protect corrupt politicians.

“When we started the protest back in April our main demand was to bring all Rajapaksas before justice and get all the wealth they have stolen from the common people of this country,”  Rukshan told Economy Next.

The protest started around mid-day on Thursday (26) and protesters’ route was blocked by police barricades on the main road in front of the prime minister’s office.

The protesters, however, withdrew from their positions and regrouped at a nearby road to go towards the Wickremesinghe’s office.

However, by the time the protesters regrouped, a court order was issued by the Fort Magistrate to stop the protest due to inconvenience to the public.

“Ranil Wickramasinghe should remember why he is here now. We’re not asking him to resign. He is here to do his duty towards this country and its people,” Rukshan said.

“On May 09, we were attacked but no justice has been served yet. That is the main reason we came today to the prime minister’s office,” he said.

“We still see queues for medicine, fuel, and gas. To be honest, there is no medicine in the market. No medicine for cancer patients. If you get bitten by a dog, then there is no medicine for you. They (the market) don’t have any of that.”

Wickremesinghe has been working over a new budget and discussing with international partners to ensure uninterrupted supply of essentials, officials close to him have said. However, it will take time, they say.

Rukshan said the country is running due to the state workers, who are working as they are being paid salaries after the government’s excess money printing.

“When that stops, then there will definitely be a revolution in this country,” he said.

“When a person goes to office in the morning, there is no fuel for the vehicle, or no public transport available. They get late and the salaries are being cut because of that. And when they come home, they don’t have gas to cook a meal.”

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Weerawansa’s wife gets two years for passport offence



Her lawyers file appeal challenging sentence

Colombo Chief Magistrate Buddhika Sri Ragala on Friday sentenced Shashi Weerawansa the wife of former minister Wimal Weerawansa to two years in prison. Shashi was found guilty of using falsified documents to obtain a passport.

The Magistrate also ordered the accused to pay a fine of Rs. 100,000 in addition to the imprisonment and an additional six months of jail if she does not pay the fine.

Sashi Weerawansa is found guilty by the court for obtaining diplomatic and general passports by submitting birth certificates with forged names and dates of birth.

She had applied for a diplomatic passport in 2010 by submitting false personal information which was different to what appears in her previous normal passport that expired on May 24, 2009.

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