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Dire warning to VIP guards; CID arrests Rishad’s bodyguard

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana yesterday (14) said that those who had been assigned to provide security to politicians were duty bound to assist the police in case they (VIPs) evaded law enforcement authorities under any circumstances.

DIG Rohana, who is also an attorney-at-law, said so at a hastily arranged media briefing at the police headquarters.

DIG Rohana said that a police constable assigned to former minister and Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) lawmaker Rishad Bathiudeen’s security detail had been taken into custody on Tuesday evening in the Wellawatte police area.

At the onset of the briefing, DIG Rohana said that as a precautionary measure in view of the growing threat posed by corona, the police headquarters wouldn’t invite print media for briefings whereas television crews would be invited only if it was really necessary. However, audio recordings would be provided to all media organizations, the police spokesman said.

DIG Rohana told The Island that the constable had been taken into custody in terms of Section 209 of the Penal Code for harbouring and concealing a suspect.

There had never been previous instances of VIP bodyguards being taken into custody over absconding politicians.

According to him even though personnel had been assigned for VIP security tasks, they were responsible as law enforcement officers to assist the police. The police also seized two vehicles – a Range Rover and Axio allegedly used by Rishad Bathiudeen on Tuesday. The media were told, the raiding party took the vehicles into their custody along with drivers. “We also recovered two pistols, two magazines and 48 rounds of ammunition,” DIG Rohana said.

The arrested drivers were identified as 45 and 56 year old residents of Puttalam.

The police are looking for Rishad Bathiudeen over misappropriation of public funds to transport a group of voters from Puttalam to Mannar on Nov 16, 2019 on the day of the last presidential election.

Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage on Tuesday told the CID that there was no requirement to issue a warrant for the former minister’s arrest as the police could take him into custody.

Referring to Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, issuing instructions on Monday, Oct 12, in respect of controversial release of Rishad Bathiudeen’s brother Riyaj, arrested on April 14, 2020 in connection with the Easter Sunday carnage, DIG Rohana said that two special teams would inquire into issues raised by the AG.

The AG has found fault with the CID over the release of Riyaj on Sept. 29.

Acknowledging that the issue had even attracted the attention of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, DIG Rohana said that a high level internal investigation was now underway. DIG Rohana said that the AG issued instructions in respect of seven vital matters regarding the Riyaj investigation. Two teams, each comprising 30 officers headed by two SSPs would inquire into the seven contentious matters, including money laundering et al under direct supervision of the new DIG, CID, DIG Rohana said.

 DIG Rohana revealed that in the wake of the AG meeting the new DIG, CID where fresh instructions were received, Secretary Defence Maj. Gen. (retd.) Kamal Gunaratne, participated in a meeting to decide the future course of action.

 DIG Rohana said that the police would take tangible measures to restore confidence in the CID.

 

 

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Special COVID-19 probe crippled by infections among CCD sleuths: AG calls for new police team

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Brandix Apparel Limited yesterday (29) said that the company would fully cooperate with relevant authorities in the investigation ordered by the Attorney General (AG). A spokesperson for the company said so when The Island sought a clarification with regard to AG Dappula de Livera, PC, directing the police to launch a criminal investigation into the alleged lapses on the part of the company as well as those officials leading to the devastating COVID-19 outbreak.

The Minuwangoda eruption, which happened in the first week of October is widely believed to be the cause of the fast expanding Peliyagoda cluster.

Asked whether the police had contacted the Brandix management as regards the investigation and sought access to Brandix management and workers at its Minuwangoda apparel manufacturing facility as well as records at the Minuwangoda facility, the spokesperson said: “We will work with the relevant authorities in this regard”.

The Colombo Crime Division (CCD) tasked with the probe has suffered a serious setback due to a section of its officers being tested positive for COVID-19. Authoritative sources said that the CCD lacked sufficient strength to carry out the investigation.

AG de Livera early this week told DIG Ajith Rohana that a progress report should be submitted to him by or before Nov. 13.

Sources said that the badly depleted CCD was not in a position to conduct the high-profile investigation, in addition to other ongoing inquiries. The AG has directed the Acting IGP to constitute a special team of law enforcement officers to conduct the investigation. Sources acknowledged the urgent need for a thorough inquiry into the far worse second corona wave. Sources said that the AG issued fresh instructions in that regard after the crisis in the CCD was brought to his notice.

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Most garment workers under self-quarantine left to fend for themselves

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A large number of garment workers who were undergoing self-quarantine in Minuwangoda did not receive any assistance, Chamila Thushari of the Dabindu Collective, a labour organisation that works with garment workers, told The Island yesterday.

She said that those who were under self-quarantine did not have money to purchase food and even those who were willing to help could not reach them.

“Some of them have received food parcels from their work places but that is not adequate. Most others have not received any assistance. Matters will only get worse after curfew is imposed throughout the Western Province,” Thushari said.

Most of these workers are undergoing self-quarantine at their boarding places, which also house individuals who still work in garment factories. “Although there is a curfew, they can go to work. These are perfect incubators for the virus,” she said.

Thushari said that every day between 20-30 workers under self-quarantine, tested positive for COVID-19.

There were no public health inspectors to monitor the boarding houses of garment workers to ensure that COVID-19 prevention measures were being followed, she said.

“Not even Grama Niladaris visit them,” Chamila said.

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SJB requests separate seats for its dissidents

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Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has written to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena requesting him to make arrangements to provide separate seats to the nine MPs who had voted with the government for the 20th Amendment to the Constitution recently.

The letter dated yesterday said that the SJB parliamentary group had decided to expel MPs Diana Gamage, A. Aravind Kumar, Ishak Rahuman, Faisal Cassim, H. M. M. Haris, M.S. Thowfeeq, Nazeer Ahmed, A.A.S.M. Raheem and S.M.M. Musharaf and it requests the Speaker to make separate seating arrangements for these MPs in the Chamber.

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