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

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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.

 

 

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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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