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Easter carnage: Unmasking real culprits of will begin as prosecutions get underway – Johnston

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The unmasking of the real culprits responsible for the Easter Sunday carnage would happen as the judicial process gets underway, Chief Government Whip Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said yesterday (7).

 Addressing the media at his Ministry, Minister Fernando said that the judicial process would help identify the persons who had aided and abetted the terror attacks and also those who had shirked their duties.

“The Presidential Commission report has made recommendations. Once that process commences, the culpability of those who committed the crimes, as well as those who failed to prevent the terror strikes, will be known. Some Opposition politicians seem to think they can get away by picking holes in the Commission report. They are mistaken.”

The Minister said that the main task of the Cabinet sub-committee headed by former Speaker and Minister Chamal Rajapaksa was to study the findings and recommendations of the PCoI and to advice the government on the next course of action. “We studied the reports on the Easter Sunday attacks at length and have identified 78 recommendations. We thereafter submitted a report to the President outlining how those recommendations are to be implemented and which agencies are implementing them.

“When the PCoI completed its investigations the Opposition members demanded its report.
When it was released, the Opposition wanted it tabled in Parliament. Since then, they have been berating the Commission. These vociferous leaders now in the Opposition, were not seen when the country was in near anarchy soon after the terror attacks on Easter Sunday. It was Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith who came forward and appealed to the people against further violence and prevented another bloodbath in this country. The nation must be thankful to him for his brave action on that day. I do not think that they could just escape from their wrongdoing by changing their name from the UNP to SJB and shifting from the elephant symbol to the telephone symbol. They placed the country’s national security in jeopardy by making structural changes in the police to form special units and divisions such as the FCID to suppress their political rivals. They imprisoned intelligence operatives. There were five secretaries to the Ministry of Defence within a period of four years.

“The yahapalana government could investigate the April 21 terror attacks. They too appointed committees including a parliamentary select committee. What were their results? Instead of finding those responsible, that PSC brought before it the intelligence officials and made public information pertaining to national security further worsening the situation. Those now accusing the PCoI of failing to identify the masterminds of the attacks were in that PSC then. Why couldn’t they make such identifications? Did the yahapalana regime implement at least a single recommendation made by that PSC? Soon after receipt of this PCoI report the President presented it to the Cabinet and then to Parliament. A Cabinet sub-committee was appointed to make further suggestions on implementation of the PCoI recommendations. We have completed those tasks and now all is set for the judicial process which will unmask many wrongdoers and offenders responsible for the Easter Sunday carnage.”



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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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