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Did ‘Colossus’ factory owned by suicide bomber benefit?

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Direct link between Colossus and largest spice exporter Ishana

Rs 63,708 mn worth of copper imports during yahapalana govt.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

SLPP National List MP Mohammed Muzammil yesterday (27) asked whether Colossus Copper Factory, Wellampitiya, under investigation for alleged funding of 2019 Easter Sunday attacks, had benefited from substantial copper imports during the 2015-2019 period, amounting to Rs. 63,708 mn.

Colossus owner Imsath carried out suicide attack on the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo. Lawmaker Muzammil of the National Freedom Front, a constituent of the SLPP, told The Island that the factory had also profited from large consignments of copper, provided by the previous government at concessionary rates without following proper tender procedures.

Muzammil pointed out that former Police Headquarters spokesman SSP Jaliya Senaratne was on record having accused the Wellampitiya factory of having funded suicide bombers.

Responding to another query, MP Muzammil said that having examined available information he had sought an explanation as regards copper imports from Money, Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal. 

State Minister Cabraal, responding to an oral question in Parliament yesterday (27) said that during the 2015-2019 period Sri Lanka had imported copper to the tune of Rs 63,708 mn.

The MP asked for a thorough investigation into what he called a conspiracy.

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry (P CoI) probing Easter Sunday attacks has been informed how Shantha Bandara, the then Public Relations Director of former President Maithripala Sirisena, instructed the Industrial Development Board (IDB) to provide 500 tonnes of copper to Colossus. Shantha Bandara now represents the SLPP parliamentary group. Devika Liyanage, a Senior Assistant Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, also directed the IDB to issue Colossus 1000 kilos of brass. IDB comes under the purview of the Trade and Commerce Ministry.

Muzamimil said that those who allowed the Colossus operation should be held accountable and made answerable to the public. He said that throughout the operation of Colossus since its inception in 2012, All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) leader and Vanni District lawmaker Rishad Bathiudeen had served and the Minister of Commerce.

Muzammil said that the IDB should be able to provide a list of requests made on behalf of Colossus which employed foreign workers at the time of the Easter Sunday carnage.

Mohammad Yusuf  Ibrahim, the proprietor of Ishana Exports Pvt Limited, the parent company of Colossus is currently held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). The police arrested Ibrahim within hours after the blasts for aiding and abetting his sons, Colossus owner Imsath and his brother Ilham, who carried out double suicide attacks on Shangri-La Hotel along with ring leader Zahran Hashim.

Ishana Exports, recognised as the largest spice exporter by the government, came into being in 1986.

Ibrahim was on the JVP National List at the 2015 general election.

Shangri-La bomber’s wife Fathima Jiffry triggered a blast to avoid being arrested after the police surrounded Ibrahim’s luxury residence at Dematagoda.

MP Muzammil said that even over one and half years after blasts killed 270 people, some of those who masterminded the project were still at large.

Responding to another query, Muzammil said that the primary focus of the ongoing investigation was the lapses on the part of the political and security apparatus.

Archbishop of Colombo Rt. Rev. Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has said all those who planned the operation should be brought to justice.



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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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.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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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.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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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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