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Easter Sunday probe in tatters: Director CID transferred following internal inquiry into Riyaj release



AG wants report within one month

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Close on the heels of Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, alleging serious lapses on the part of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), in respect of the probe on Riyaj Bathiudeen’s alleged involvement with those responsible for the Easter Sunday attacks, the premier investigating agency’s Director SSP Prasanna de Alwis has been moved out.

The transfer took place consequent to an unprecedented meeting the AG had with the new Director CID Prasad Ranasinghe and three other officers, including SSP Alwis. The AG found fault with the CID over the way the police had released Riyaj arrested last April on the basis of irrefutable evidence of direct links with at least one Easter Sunday suicide bomber.

The National Police Commission (NPC) has cleared the CID Director’s transfer as Director, Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) whereas SSP G.N. de Zoysa received the CID Director’s post. Zoysa had been the Director of the recently formed unit responsible for inquiring into ill-gotten wealth. At the time, SSP de Alwis received appointment as Director, CID a couple of months ago, he was Director CID.

Within days after the media reported Riyaj Bathiudeen’s release, Police headquarters moved the then DIG CID Nuwan Wedasinghe out of the unit. He received an appointment as Acting DIG Western Province (North). Wedasinghe received posting as DIG, CID in late Dec last year following the change of government.

Following instructions received from the AG, who asked for a comprehensive report within a month, the police were now in the process of inquiring into the conduct of the CID.

Acting IGP C.D. Wickremaratne last week set up two special teams to probe the circumstances leading to Riyaj Bathiudeen’s release and serious lapses on the part of the CID.

Since the change of government in Nov 2019, the SSPs had held the post of Director CID. Of them, the first to hold the post was SSP W. Tilakaratne followed by de Alwis and now de Zoysa.

SSP Shani Abeysekera, who had been the director CID at the time of the change of government, is in remand custody. The police arrested him in July this year over charges of framing DIG Vass Gunawardena now on death row.

The CID is the second special unit to come under investigation this year. Earlier, the DIG, Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) Sajeewa Medawatta and its Director SSP Manjula Senarath were transferred out after investigations launched at the behest of the AG exposed a section of the PNB dealing in heroin.

Well informed sources said that proper inquiry was needed to clean up the department. Sources explained that law enforcement apparatus was under scrutiny both by the AG and the Defence Secretary in the wake continuing accusations regarding impropriety. Sources also alleged that shortly before Riyaj’s release, his brother Samagi Jana Balavegaya lawmaker Rishad Bathiudeen met some senior CID officers.




Cabraal: Prez appoints members to Port City Economic Commission



By Shyam Nuwan Ganewatta

The President of the country would always appoint members to the Colombo Port City Economic Commission, entrusted with running of that city under the proposed CPCEC Bill, State Minister of Money & Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, yesterday, told the media, in Colombo.

State Minister Cabraal said that most critics of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill had not even read it.

“Sri Lankans don’t need to obtain a visa to enter the Port City as some claim. The Port City will be administered by the Colombo Port City Economic Commission and the Bill we have presented details how the area will be governed,” Cabraal said responding to a question posed by a journalist.

The State Minister said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had asked him to counter the misinformation and fake news that was being spread about the Bill. Once people have read and understood the Bill, most who criticise it would have to change their tune, the Minister said.


Journalists also questioned the State Minister on the allegations levelled by MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakse. The State Minister said that Rajapakse had not even asked a question about the Bill during the Parliamentary Group meetings.

“As I said earlier, the Port City will be administered by Colombo Port City Economic Commission. All members are appointed by the President. The Chairman of the Commission too is appointed by the President. The President can get rid of them anytime he wants,” Cabraal said.

The State Minister added that no one would be allowed to withdraw money or assets from Sri Lanka and invest in the Port City. “This is a special economic zone. We need to attract foreign direct investments. We need to have ease of doing business in this zone and we have to make it an important financial hub in the region.”

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Two hotels to be built obstructing elephant corridor in Sinharaja – MONLAR



Forest land being cleared for the construction of a hotel

By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Bowitiyatenna elephant corridor, used by elephants in Sinharaja to travel to Dellawa – Walankanda forest had been obstructed by two businessmen by clearing a section of the forest to build hotels, Sajeeewa Chamikara of the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) said.

“One hotel is being constructed in the Dolekanda Grama Niladari area after clearing seven acres of forest land. The Kalawana Divisional Secretariat has approved the construction of the hotel ignoring environmental regulations. Right now, forests are being cleared, land is being prepared and buildings are being constructed using heavy equipment.”

Another hotel was being built at the Bowitiyatenna Elephant Corridor, situated in Godakawela Divisional Secretariat area by a businessman from Godakawela. He has cleared around eight acres of forest land, the environmentalist said.

The two hotels were obstructing the elephant corridors used by the remaining two elephants in the Sinharaja Forest Reserve. Now, the the people of Rambuka, Thanawela, Ellagama, Handiyekade, Kajugaswatte, Pothupitiya, Kopikella and Cypresswatte would have the elephans marauding their villages, the environmentalist said, adding that the residents of those villages would lose property and lives due to the hotels being constructed by obstructing the elephant corridors.

“Most of the forest areas surrounding the Sinharaja are to be annexed to the Forest Reserve because they are an important part of the forest network. These unscrupulous businessmen and politicians supporting them are attempting to carve out as much land as possible before these areas receive protected status. They are also doing their best to delay the declaration of these lands as protected areas.”

Chamikara said that the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) had the power to take action against those who carried out such illegal activities.

According to Section 23 (a.) (a.) of the National Environmental Act, when a project is carried out without environmental clearance, the CEA can produce such people before a magistrate’s court. If found guilty, a person can be fined up to Rs. 15,000 or imprisoned up to two years or subjected to both.

Chamikara said: “According to Article 27(14) of Chapter VI of the Sri Lankan constitution the state shall protect, preserve and improve the environment for the benefit of the community.” However, the CEA seems to have no interest in taking action against those who are building these hotels illegally. This is CEA’s attitude to almost all major environmental destruction that seems to be taking place these days.

“The government is silent when the Sinharaja forest is degraded and elephant corridors are closed by businessmen. The right to land seems to be a right reserved only for businessmen. We have the right to oppose these under article 28. (f) of the Constitution which states that we have a fundamental duty ‘to protect nature and conserve its riches.’ Article 28. (e) states that we also have a fundamental duty ‘to respect the rights and freedoms of others.’ Thus, we, the citizens have the right to oppose the illegal use of natural resources by powerful businessmen. If we do not oppose these moves as citizens, powerful businessmen will take over all our natural assets like they are doing at Sinharaja.”

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RDHS predicts Coronavirus spike in Jaffna over the weekend



By Dinasena Ratugamage

There might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna this weekend, A.

Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday. Dr. Kethiswaran made the prediction after 26 new cases were detected in Jaffna.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported from Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be locked down, he said.

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