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Ex-SSP Kurunegala recalls how he was mocked by Bathiudeen when Dr. Shafi was granted bail



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen had called him on the day Dr. Segu Shihabdeen Mohamed Shafi, accused of steralising women without their consent, was granted bail, and spoke mockingly, former Kurunegala SSP Mahinda Dissanayake, on Saturday morning, told the PCoI investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

Dissanayake said there were subtle interferences throughout the investigation into allegations against Dr. Shafi.

Earlier, DIG Kithsiri Jayalath, who was previously in charge of the Kurunegala District, told the PCoI that the arrest of Dr. Shafi, had led to his transfer. DIG Jayalath said Dr. Shafi was a friend of the then Minister Rishad Bathiudeen. Jayalath said that according to intelligence reports, Shafi had received money from the Thawheed Jamaath movement.

SSP Dissanayake, who served under Jayalath, was summoned before the PCoI.

Ravishani Peiris, the counsel for Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, questioned the witness on the Shafi investigation.

Peiris: “When did you first hear about Shafi?”

SSP Dissanayake: “After the Easter Sunday attacks.”

Peiris: “What did you hear about him?”

SSP Dissanayake: “There was unrest following, Easter Sunday attacks in Kurunegala too. It was at this time that we received information about Shafi, who was attached to Kurunegala Hospital. Shafi also had a private medical centre near the hospital. During his statement to the Police, Shafi said that Muslims abroad send large sums to this centre.”

SSP Dissanayake added that Shafi told him not to ask further questions on the fund transfers. The Police were unable to identify those who had sent funds and for what purpose.

He said: “I informed the Court about this on 22 May 2019 through a B report. We found that there were significant transactions in Shafi’s accounts but not how he received these funds. At this point, we received information that Shafi had been conducting non-consensual sterilisations of Sinhalese women. We were told that mishaps take place during his surgeries and that he had tried to give a baby born to one mother to another woman. Shafi had done about 8,000 cesarean deliveries by then.”

The witness said that Shafi had been arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA.) Policemen also seized a number of court materials from Shafi as well, he said. Among the items seized was the DVR in which CCTV footage of Shafi’s private clinic was stored, the SSP said.

SSP Dissanayake: “A day after we took Shafi in, CID and TID officers came and took the suspect into their custody. However, I later learned that the above mentioned DVR had been returned to Shafi outside of the proper procedure and that a lot of CCTV footage had been deleted.”

The SSP added that DIG Kithsiri Jayalath and he had been transferred to Puttalam and Kantale respectively following the commencement of the Shafi investigation. Soon after the release of Shaffi on bail, former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen had called him, SSP Dissanayake said.

SSP Dissanayake : “Bathiudeen asked me “Mr. Dissanayake, do you feel good now?” I have not revealed this to anyone before.

A Commissioner: “Did you think this was a threat?”

SSP Dissanayake: “There was no reason for him to call me.”

A journalist working with BBC Sinhala Shirley Upul Kumara too testified at the PCoI. He was questioned on an interview he had done with former President Maithripala Sirisena and allegations made by Sirisena that the video that BBC published had been heavily edited and his answerss distorted.

The Attorney General’s Department representative leading evidence asked Kumara if the video was edited.

Kumara: “Yes. We did the interview outdoors and sometimes the wind would ruffle his hair. We removed those parts. We also removed repetitions. But we never distorted his answers.”

AG representative: “Did President Sirisena or his office request the BBC to remove the video.

Kumara: “I asked our HQ before coming here. No such request had been made. The interview was done in a cordial manner. At the end we even took a selfie and Sirisena put his hand around my shoulder.”

Earlier Sirisena said that there were constant arguments between him and Kumara during the interview.

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LIOC seeks to expand operations



by Ifham Nizam

Power and Energey Minister Kanchana Wijesekera yesterday revealed that Lanka Indian Oil Company (LIOC) had asked for permission to set up 50 new filling stations in the country and take over a certain number of petrol sheds currenlty under the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC). The government had asked the LIOC to increases the supply of fuel, in case Sri Lanka agreed to the Indian proposal,Wijesekera added.

Sri Lanka was facing daunting challenges as regards fuel distribution and it might not be able to get rid of fuel queues anytime soon, Minister Wijesekera said.Speaking to journalists yesterday, in Colombo, Wijesekera said that plans were underway to introduce a token system for fuel dispensation.He said the new scheme could come into effect from today (27) and the Police, and the armed forces will help implement it.

He also said that four separate groups from the Ministry were working on petrol, diesel, crude / furnace oil, and jet fuel imports. “We asked Lanka IOC to increase fuel supply and CEYPETCO to purchase diesel from them. But they asked for a price revision before that according to the pricing formula. That’s why we revised the price in a situation where there was no fuel in the country.”

The moves came as the government increased fuel prices with effect from the wee hours of Sunday wee hours. Petrol (Octane 92) now sells at Rs 470 per litre and Octane 95 at Rs. 550 per litre. Auto Diesel sells at Rs 460 per litre and Super Diesel at Rs 520 per litre.The Minister said they were working on 130-plus proposals for fuel delivery to Sri Lanka.

“USD 500 million is something that Sri Lanka cannot afford at this juncture. Therefore, consumption will have to be slashed, and fuel for public transport prioritized. Two ministers will fly to Russia today for discussions on fuel and related matters,” he said.The Minister said that bunker suppliers had been granted permission to deliver fuel for industries that deal in US currency.

He also said that overseas fuel companies based in countries that produce fuel, would be invited to set up business in Sri Lanka, as the CPC alone could not import fuel.

He said the CPC would become a more service-provider-based institution to facilitate fuel imports, and it had 9000 MT of diesel and the IOC 10,000 MT while the CPC had about 6000 MT of Petrol and the IOC about 8000 MT, of petrol.He said the IOC was issuing about 300 MT a day and their next shipment was due only after 10 July.

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Economic crisis: Govt. MPs slam Cabinet, Finance Ministry



‘How come SLPA paid to Treasury just a faction of massive revenue earned in six years?’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

T wo SLPP MPs, Dr. Nalaka Godahewa and Madura Vithanage have, at different forums, lashed out at the government for the rapidly deteriorating status of the public sector finance. Godahewa has warned that economic recovery will not be possible unless the government restructured nearly 400 loss making public sector enterprises or at least take tangible measures to cut down on recurring losses.The former Media Minister, who represents the Gampaha District, said so addressing a group of Gampaha-based professionals and entrepreneurs recently.

Alleging that the failure, on the part of the government to establish an all-party government, contributed to the further deterioration of the situation, Dr. Godahewa emphasized the urgent need to curb, what he called, unbridled corruption as part of the efforts to revive the economy.The Gampaha District MP asked whether the current dispensation has addressed the issues at hand with a sense of responsibility.The MP questioned the composition of the Cabinet-of-Ministers, especially the appointment of UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Premier, in spite of his party having just one seat in Parliament, against the backdrop of even the government parliamentary group not being properly represented.

Dr. Godahewa warned that SriLankan Airlines, the Ceylon Electricity Board, and the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) would deny the country an opportunity to recover as they remained a massive burden on taxpayers. The One-time top level private sector executive said that the Cabinet-of-Ministers lacked the strength to take crucial decisions. But, the situation would have been different if the Cabinet-of-Ministers included representatives of the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) and other political parties. Dr. Godahewa declared that the government couldn’t take decisions on sensitive matters as long as it didn’t command political power.

Meanwhile, Colombo District MP Vithanage has questioned the responsibility, on the part of the Finance Ministry, in the overall deterioration of public sector finance with the focus on the handling of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) at a recent meeting of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE). The lawmaker alleged that the Finance Ministry had conveniently failed to make required intervention on behalf of the government, thereby deprived the opportunity to utilize SLPA profits.

Prof. Charitha Herath chaired the meeting. Auditor General W.P.C. Wickramaratne attended the meeting whereas Ports and Shipping Secretary K.D.S. Ruwanchandra led the SLPA team.Both MP Vithanage and Prof. Herath asserted that the Finance Ministry should have intervened on behalf of the people. The COPE examined how the SLPA continuously refrained from paying the Treasury at least the minimum amounts in spite of receiving massive profits over the years.  The Director General Public Enterprises, who has received that position recently, struggled to explain their failure to take up the non-transfer of SLPA profits to the Treasury. The COPE was told of Rs 69,686 mn revenue earned from 2016 to 2021, only 600 mn had been transferred to the Treasury.

Lawmaker Vithanage yesterday told The Island that the recent examinations of various enterprises and the Central Bank, by the COPE, as well as other watchdog committees, disclosed how the Finance Ministry, Central Bank and the Monetary Board contributed to the developing crisis. MP Vithanage pointed out even after the Covid-19 eruption devastated the economy, the SLPA had been able to withhold funds required by the Treasury for want of Finance Ministry intervention.Responding to queries, MP Vithanage said that the Parliament should act without further delay to ensure the Finance Ministry and the Monetary Board acted responsibly.

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Ceylon Chamber distributes dry rations



The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Diwiyata Diriyak’ social initiative provided emergency relief, in the form of 10,000 essential dry ration packs, to vulnerable families in the Kegalle and Colombo districts.

A press release from the Chamber said: Mobilising the Chamber’s Membership to assist low-income families that are struggling to survive the current crisis, the initial distribution, which took place at the Kegalle District Secretariat, was the first phase of Diwiyata Diriyak, which aims to provide 5,000 relief packs.

Containing essential items such as rice, lentils, sugar, wheat flour, canned fish, etc., costing Rs. 5,000 each, vulnerable families, identified by the respective District Secretaries in the Warakapola, Galigamuwa, Mawanella and Rambukkana DS divisions, were among the initial beneficiaries.

CEO and Secretary General of the Ceylon Chamber Manjula de Silva said that the Chamber was committed to supporting the public during this immensely challenging time, and would always strive to ensure that the most vulnerable in our society are protected.

Home Garden Starter Packs, sponsored by the CIC Group, were also distributed among the families, in order to assist and encourage home garden cultivation as a viable option to address the rapidly rising costs and predicted shortage of food items, the release said.

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