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Courier service workers stole Apple phones, 16 devices recovered, six remanded

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… cargo boxes opened at places not covered by CCTV at the BIA

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Six employees of an international courier service have been arrested for stealing at least 19 Apple phones. They were arrested on Saturday (8) following investigations conducted by the Negombo police.

DIG (Legal) and Attorney-at-Law Ajith Rohana said that among those taken into custody and remanded till May 10 (today), after having been produced before the Negombo Magistrate, were three supervisors, attached to the courier service, and three other persons of a manpower service, hired by the internationally reputed firm. DIG Rohana said that on the instructions of the supervisors, the labourers, provided by the manpower service, had opened cargo boxes at places not covered by thebCCTV camera network in operation at the BIA.

In spite of a range of counter measures in place at the Bandaranaike International Airport, those having access to the BIA continue to engage in illegal activities even at the risk of arrest, the DIG said. Responding to a query, DIG Rohana told The Island, those labourers assigned to collect cargo from the BIA opened boxes identified by the supervisors. The employees of the courier service exploited those sending Apple phones quoting a much lower price to avoid Customs imposing a levy, the top policeman said, adding that the courier service passed the losses to insurers. Those who didn’t receive phones sent to them could only claim for the amount quoted by the senders, lawyer Rohana said. “Perhaps, some didn’t even bother to complain,” DIG Rohana said.

The police initiated an inquiry recently after receiving a complaint regarding a missing Apple phone sent from Australia. Following investigations, the Negombo Division recovered 16 Apple phones from phone shops in Kandy, Divulapitiya and Minuwangoda.

DIG Rohana said that the suspects were residents of Minuwangoda, Ja-ela, Katupotha, Kottawa and Mattakkuliya.

The DIG emphasized that the actual number of phones stolen by this gang could be much more though the investigators identified 19 specific cases.

Responding to another query, DIG Rohana said that those companies having access to the BIA should be vigilant about workers regardless of their duties and responsibilities.  

The police refrained from naming the courier service involved though The Island learns the suspects produced before the Negombo Magistrate were employees of leading international courier DHL and workers of a manpower agency hired by the same firm. The suspects are to be re-produced in court tomorrow (10)

DIG Rohana said that even stolen top of the line Apple phones fetched as much as Rs 200,000 in the local market. The police spokesperson said that those who hadn’t received Apple phones sent from abroad should get in touch with police on 071-4024042. The top police official said that the gang stole only Apple phones though a range of other hand phones were received by the courier service.

DIG Rohana said that regardless of immense difficulties caused by raging Covid-19 pandemic, the police were conducting investigations into what he called regular complaints. According to him, the robberies would have continued if not for a person who didn’t receive an Apple phone sent from Australia complained to law enforcement authorities. The Negombo police have taken over the investigation in the absence of any progress by the Katunayake police.

An investigator said that those who bought stolen Apple phones didn’t suspect anything as they received relevant documents along with the devices. The official said so when The Island asked why those who bought stolen goods hadn’t been arrested. “We are conducting further investigations into this racket,” the official said.



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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman

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Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand

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At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night

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President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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