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Corona second wave:



JHU questions delay in AG ordered probe

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The government owed an explanation as regards the inordinate delay in ascertaining the circumstances that led to the explosive spread of COVID-19 in the second week of October, JHU spokesman Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe told The Island yesterday (13).

The former Western Province PC member pointed out that specific instructions had been issued to police headquarters by no less a person than Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, in that regard two weeks ago, had been ignored.

Warnasinghe said that Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa’s revelations in Parliament on Thursday (12) as regards massive public expenditure caused by the ongoing second wave underscored the pivotal importance of establishing accountability.

Warnasinghe issuing a statement on behalf of civil society group ‘People Awareness Council’ questioned how AG’s directive issued on Oct 27 pertaining to high profile investigations into negligence on the part of Brandix and officials and subsequent instructions were ignored. Warnasinghe said that the AG sought inquiry to establish whether violations should be dealt with criminal law or Quarantine law governed under Quarantine and Prevention of Diseases Ordinance.

Brandix management has repeatedly assured their readiness to cooperate with investigations when The Island raised the issue with them on more than one occasion.

Responding to The Island queries, Warnasinghe emphasized that the AG’s Department, too, owed an explanation especially as the probe was initiated by the department. Warnasinghe asked whether Police headquarters complied with AG’s instructions to submit a list of police officers assigned to conduct the investigation to him. The AG also wanted to address the team ahead of the inquiry, Warnasinghe said.

The JHU spokesman asked whether the police received instructions from the AG in that regard.

Warnasinghe said that the national economy was rapidly deteriorating as a result of the second wave. The parliament should be told of the actual situation, Warnasinghe said, pointing out the AG must have had sound basis to call for an investigation.

Warnasinghe said that the AG went to the extent of directing Police Headquarters to take the investigation out of the Colombo Crime Division (CCD) badly depleted as a result of corona-virus infections and hand it over to a specially chosen team.

Warnasinghe said that the public were naturally suspicious of the way those responsible handled the investigations. He said that the Health Minister, Epidemiology Unit head and the Secretary to the Health Ministry, too, should explain the status of the investigation. Warnasinghe said that the media should raise questions from relevant civil and military/police authorities without beating around the bush.

Warnasinghe said that the crisis triggered by Peliyagoda cluster quickly overshadowed over 1,000 infections caused among Brandix workers attached to its Munuwangoda apparel manufacturing facility. The second wave so far caused over 15,000 infections, nearly 50 deaths, the political furore over Muslims’ demand to allow burial of corona dead and debilitating setback to the national economy, Warnasinghe said.

The economy that had been weakened by years of mismanagement, waste, corruption and irregularities was in the intensive care unit, Warnasinghe said. The JHU official said that a despicable bid was made recently to blame the corona second wave on the arrival of two groups of Ukrainians, one crew of a private cargo airline and the second here on the invitation of Sri Lanka Air Force. Thanks to the management of Ramada, Seeduwa where the cargo crew stayed and the Air Force swiftly issuing contradictions that bid failed, Warnasinghe said, alleging that the government was answerable to the people.

It would be a grave mistake on their part to believe the truth could be suppressed by propagating lies and causing diversions, Warnasinghe said. The JHU spokesman asked whether the State Intelligence Services and Directorate of Military Intelligence were capable of tracking down Prabhakaran’s successor, Kumaran Pathmanathan aka ‘KP’ couldn’t ascertain the October eruption. Warnasinghe said at the onset various interested parties blamed it on 39-year-old Brandix employee.

Subsequently, both Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva, head of the Covid Task Force and head of the Epidemiology Unit Dr Sudath Samaraweera cleared her.

Warnasinghe asked whether the AG received progress report as asked within two weeks after issuance of instructions. Obviously ‘One Country, One Law’ seemed irrelevant, the former PC member said.


PSC action could cripple health services, warns GMOA Secretary



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



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



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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