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Former IGP calls ex-President a habitual liar

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

President Maithripala Sirisena used to lie as a habit, former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Pujith Jayasundara yesterday told the Presidential Commission probing Easter Sunday attacks.

Jayasundara made this statement when he was asked by Commissioners why he had failed to inform President Sirisena of the foreign intelligence that the State Intelligence Service (SIS) had received, of a possible terror attack, when he met Sirisena on April 14 and on April 16. Last week Sirisena said that Jayasundara met him on April 14 for the New Year and on 16 at the airport when he left the country.

“The statement the former president made before the Commission that I had boarded the flight on April 16 and greeted him is untrue. I did so when our relations were healthy.

“Why would Sirisena lie about this?” a member of the Commission asked.

The witness said that Sirisena lied as a habit.

“For example Sirisena had told the PCoI that I had visited him for the Sinhala and Hindu New Year in 2019, and stayed there for lunch. That too is a lie. I was there only for about ten minutes on that day. I didn’t have lunch. I only went to greet him as the Head of State in keeping with the Sri Lankan traditions.”

The former IGP also added that Namal Kumara, who alleged, in 2018, that there was a plan to assassinate former President Maithripala Sirisena and current President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, had been paid by Sirisena’s Office.

 “Dr. Samantha Kithalawarachchi, the former Director of the Presidential Task Force on Drug Prevention, which was active at the time, told me that Kumara was paid by the Task Force too.”

 Jayasundara added that Kumara had been given a reward of Rs. 500,000 from the Police Rewards Fund for providing information needed to arrest several suspects involved in riots at Digana.

 Jayasundara also said that given that former Commandant of the Special Task Force (STF) Senior DIG M.R. Latheef had informed on April 2019 that the STF officers who were guarding former President Maithripala Sirisena knew about the intelligence received by the State Intelligence Service (SIS) on April 04, 2019 about a possible terror attack, it was highly likely that Sirisena was aware of this development.

Jayasundara said he had informed the SIS intelligence to SDIG Latheef on April, 09, 2019, and that the latter had submitted two reports, on 21 and 22 April, 2019, about the steps he had taken. Latheef had also informed the STF headquarters in the East as well as heads of STF camps, Jayasundara said.  



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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?

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… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.

 

 

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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others

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The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.

 

 

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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area

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Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in 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 lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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