by Imesh Ranasinghe
ECONOMYNEXT – The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has confirmed that Maulavi (Islamic preacher) Mohamad Ibrahim Mohamad Naufer masterminded Sri Lanka’s 2019 Easter Sunday bombings, Minister of Public Security Sarath Weerasekara told parliament on Wednesday`.
The minister was responding to a May 18 statement by Attorney General Dappula De Livera that there was a grand conspiracy behind the attacks that killed 269 people and injured over 500.
De Livera in a letter written to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) C. D. Wickramaratne and a subsequent statement to the public said that he has been unable to press charges or file indictments against the conspirators and abettors of the Easter Sunday attack due to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) investigations being incomplete.
Minister Weerasekara said in parliament that the investigation into the Easter Sunday attacks was an international investigation as many foreign nationals lost their lives in the attack. The CID conducted investigations along with international investigative teams such as the FBI and the Australian Federal Police.
It takes a long time complete international investigations, the minister said defending the delay.
Usually, it takes a long time to complete international investigations,” he said.
“Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was considered the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks is still in detention. It took years to file a lawsuit against the terrorist who assassinated former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. It took three years to file charges against the assassins of former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar,” he said.
Similarly, said Weerasekara, it takes years to file charges in the case of an attack such as the Easter bombings as investigations must be thorough in order to gather all evidence so that suspects cannot escape through a loophole in the law.
The minister said AG has already filed indictments against 16 suspects in the Kegalle High Court for damaging a Buddha Statue in Mawanella and six suspects in the Puttalam High Court for storing explosives in Wanathawilluwa. Three more were indicted in the Kegalle High Court for the attempted murder of Mohammad Taslim, a key witness whose body is partially paralysed as a result of a gunshot to the head. Police believe Taslim was shot on the orders of Zaharan Hashim, the ringleader of the suicide bombers that blew themselves up on April 21 2019.
Mohammed Naufer Mohammed Yusri and Hejaaz Hizbullah and another were indicted for aiding and abetting terrorist activities in Gampaha and Puttalam High Courts.
Weerasekara said in November 2020, eight documents with charges were presented to the AG regarding the eight attacks that happen on Easter Sunday 2019.
“After that, I met the Attorney General personally on a few occasions. I understood that he was working on this with great dedication and enthusiasm. He said to wait till the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCOl) is released to see whether there is a contradiction between the evidence and what the report revealed,” Weerasekara said.
The PCol that probed the attack presented its findings to the AG in February this year. According to the minister, from March 12 to April 24, a team of 54 police investigators together with state counsels from the Attorney General’s Department worked in a team led by a Senior Assistant Solicitor General to thoroughly analyse the evidence and facts under the personal supervision of the AG.
Shortcomings in the investigation was reported to the police on April 24. The AG had then resubmitted the report to the IGP on May 12, by which time police had addressed most of the shortcomings and reported back to the AG’s Department, Weerasekara said.
He said this could be the reason for the AG’s statement on May 15.
“We hope to attend to the rest of the shortcomings in the near future, after which the Attorney General can file indictments against suspects,” he added.
Authorities have apprehended 704 individuals suspected of being connected to the bombings, according to Weerasekara.
“We appreciate the assistance and the professional commitment the AG has demonstrated in this regard,” he said.
DG Information ignorant of basic election laws and regulations: ECSL
by PRIYAN DE SILVA
The Election Commission (EC) has expressed its disappointment at controversial statements made by some public officials about elections. It says some top government official, including the Director General of Government Information, are not familiar with the basic election laws and regulations laid down in the Constitution.
The EC says it may be due to his ignorance that the Director General of Government Information has issued the Special News Release, on 29 January, claiming that ‘the gazette notification, with the signatures of the Chairman, and other members of the Election Commission, required for the commencement of the Local Government Election process, has not yet been sent to the Government Press for printing’. The EC has said such notices have to be signed and sent by the relevant Returning Officers in accordance with section 38 of the Local Authorities Election (Amendment Act) No 16 of 2017, and not by the members of the EC.
The EC has confirmed that the notices from the Returning Officers were sent to the Government Press on Monday (30).
The EC’s Media release also points out that the DGI may be unaware that Article 104GG of the Constitution states that if any public official refuses or fails without a reasonable cause to comply with the Commission he or she has committed an offence.
Article 104GG of the Constitution says: (1) Any public officer, any employee of any public corporation, business or other undertaking vested in the Government under any other written law and any company registered or deemed to be registered under the Companies Act, No. 7 of 2007, in which the Government or any public corporation or local authority holds fifty percent or more of the shares of that company, who – (a) refuses or fails without a reasonable cause to cooperate with the Commission, to secure the enforcement of any law relating to the holding of an election or the conduct of a Referendum; or (b) fails without a reasonable cause to comply with any directions or guidelines issued by the Commission under sub-paragraph (a) of paragraph (4) or sub-paragraph (a) of paragraph (5), respectively, of Article 104B, shall be guilty of an offense and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand rupees or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to both such fine and imprisonment.”
AKD says no improvement at Sapugaskanda oil refinery since it went into production in 1969
The capacity of the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery (SOR) has not increased since it was established in 1969, National People’s Power (NPP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake says.
Speaking at a public rally recently he that in 1969, the SOR used the most advanced technology available at the time.
“CPC started construction in 1968 and SOR started operations, refining oil, on August 5th, 1969. During that time, the CPC could refine 50,000 MT of crude oil. 55 years later, the capacity remains the same. In 1969, the CPC started with the most advanced technology available at the time. Technology has improved now. We are still refining oil with 1969 technology,” he said.
Dissanayake said that Sri Lanka built a fertiliser factory to use the byproducts of the refinery and, in 1982, a newspaper reported that 5000 MT of urea, produced by that factory, was exported to Pakistan. Today, that factory is closed.
“The CPC also had a nylon factory, as a subsidiary. We built our own nylon thread fish nets. By-products of the refinery were used as pesticides and insecticides for our pineapple and flower production. Those factories were closed, too. We had a candle industry from the by-products, we produced lubricant oil. It was sold to American Caltex. Refinery produced fuel for airplanes. It has the capacity to sell USD 1.4 million worth airplane fuel per day. We can buy crude oil, refine, and sell to ships. These are opportunities we must use to earn foreign currency. Recently this section of the CPC was privatized,” he said.
The ruling class has failed to secure even the most important assets, he said. Agriculture, land, gems, ilmenite, our natural resources, so will these rulers protect what is left, he asked.
“They have absolutely no plan to build this country. Selling our resources, closing down factories and selling valuable machinery is what they know. Every government has taken part in the destruction of the refinery. This is why we need a change in the economy. We need to transform our economy. Only NPP can do that,” he said.
The NPP leader said that the existing constitution concentrates too much power in the hands of the executive president. Sri Lanka has had this executive presidential system for 40 years and executive power was used against the people, repressing them.
“Our economy was destroyed. It has done no good to this country. One man cannot develop the country. Individuals have capacities and limitations. We need to unite our capabilities to govern this country. It’s a collective effort and the NPP is the only party to undertake it. That’s the point of difference. There are talented people from all fields like history, economy, mathematics, law and so on. There are lawyers, university academics and professionals. The government has to unite these capacities and talents to bring optimum results for the country. NPP will do that. For that we have to abolish executive presidency and rewrite the constitution vesting more powers in the Parliament. We will bring about this change,” he said.
Dissanayake said an NPP administration will limit the number of Ministers to 18. He added that crossovers have distorted the democratic system and corrupted the political culture.
“People vote for them in one party but for money and positions they change political allegiance. This has become a public nuisance. Some MPs demand ransom to stay in the party. We will add a provision to the Constitution to ban crossing over,” he said.
JVP: Where are President’s influential foreign friends?
By Rathindra Kuruwita
President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who assumed duties, claiming that he had very influential friends overseas, now claims he can hardly afford to pay government servants, National People’s Power (NPP) MP Vijitha Herath says.
“If anything, things are worse than before. The government is afraid of the people and is trying to postpone elections,” Herath said, adding that the March 09 local council election would mark the beginning of the end for the Ranil-Rajapaksa administration.
Herath said so addressing an NPP election rally recently.
“They will no longer be able to pretend that the people are with them. Not that they have any legitimacy, locally or internationally, but the level of their unpopularity will be seen on 10 March,, when the poll results are announced” he said.
Strong winds over Eastern, Uva, Western, Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces and in Galle, Matara, Mullaitivu, Jaffna and Kilinochchi districts.
DG Information ignorant of basic election laws and regulations: ECSL
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