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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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Covid-19 vaccination programme: MPs not in priority group; President, armed forces chiefs in ‘third category’ 



By Shamindra Ferdinando

State Minister for Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle yesterday (25) said that members of Parliament were not among those categorised as priority groups expected to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Fernandopulle said so in response to The Island query whether parliamentarians would receive the vaccine scheduled to be delivered by India this week. Asked to explain, Dr. Fernandopulle said that health workers, armed forces and law enforcement personnel engaged in Covid-19 prevention operations would be given priority.

“Lawmakers haven’t been listed under priority groups. However, some members may get the vaccine if they are accommodated in the over 60 years category and those suffering from diabetes, heart disease, cancer et al,” the State minister said.

In addition to State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera, several lawmakers, representing both the government and the Opposition had been afflicted over the past several weeks. SLPP lawmaker Wasantha Yapa Bandara (Kandy district) is the latest victim. Health minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchi was among over half a dozen lawmakers tested positive.

Army Commander General Shavendra Silva told Derana yesterday morning Sri Lanka would receive approximately 500,000 to 600,000 doses from India. Responding to a spate of questions from Derana anchor Sanka Amarjith, Gen. Silva explained the measures taken by the government to ensure a smooth vaccination programme. The Army Chief who also functions as the Chief of Defence Staff revealed India had paid for the consignment obtained from the UK.

Later in the day, The Island sought an explanation from the Army Chief regarding the President, Service Commanders, Secretary Defence given the vaccination along with frontline health workers et al, the celebrated battlefield commander said: “Will be in third priority group.”

Asked whether the student population would be accommodated at an early stage of the vaccination programme, Dr. Fernandopulle said that those under 18 years of age, pregnant and lactating mothers wouldn’t be included at all as such groups hadn’t been subjected to trials. Education Secretary Prof. Kapila Perera wasn’t available for comment.

Dr. Fernandopulle emphasized the pivotal importance of following health guidelines strictly in spite of the launch of the vaccination programme. “We shouldn’t lower our guard under any circumstances,” Dr. Fernandopulle said, urging the population to be mindful of those unable to receive the vaccination due to no fault of theirs. As those under 18 years of age had been left out of the vaccination programme, a substantial section of the population would be denied the protection, the State Minister said.

Sri Lanka is also expected to procure vaccines from China and Russia in addition to the doses from India. Health Secretary Maj. Gen. Sanjeewa Munasinghe wasn’t available for comment.

Sri Lanka launches the vaccination programme with the total number of positive cases nearing 60,000 with nearly 50,000 recoveries. The government recently re-opened the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) following a pilot programme that brought over 1,200 Ukrainians in dozen flights through the Mattala International Airport.

Dr. Fernandopulle said that the government was ready to launch the vaccination programme as soon as the first consignment arrived from India.

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Tennis balls filled with drugs thrown into Kandakadu Covid-19 treatment centre



By Norman Palihawadane

Two tennis balls filled with drugs had been thrown into the Covid-19 treatment centre at Kandakadu, Police Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana said.

The contraband was found on Saturday by the Army officers attached to the facility.

DIG Rohana said the two tennis balls containing cannabis, heroin and tobacco, had been handed over to the Welikanda Police.

A special investigation has been launched into the incident, the Police Spokesperson said. Such incidents had been previously reported from Welikada, Negombo and other prisons, but it was the first time contraband containing narcotics had been thrown into a Covid-19 treatment centre, he added.

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All cargo clearances at Colombo port now through electronic payments




The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has introduced a system where payment for imports could be made via the Internet. This allows port users to make payments from their homes or offices to clear goods from the Port of Colombo.

The SLPA has said in a media statement that the new special facility will enable port users to make their port payments easily without hassle.

At present, all terminals of the Port of Colombo are run according to a strategic crisis management plan.


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