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Hakeem tells PCoI probing Easter carnage ‘another force’ masterminded attacks



By Rathindra Kuruwita

The National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) or its leader Zahran Hashim had no link to ISIS and the Easter Sunday attacks had been masterminded by another force that wanted to destabilise the country, SLMC Leader MP Rauff Hakeem, on Monday, told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

Testifying before the Commission the witness said that those behind the attack had achieved their final objective of destabilising the country.

“The NTJ used the ISIS banner just for namesake and the group was used as pawns. The Easter Sunday attacks were a one-off incident. Such an attack will not happen again.”

The commissioners then asked Hakeem to reveal who is thought was behind the attack. Hakeem said that he would reveal that information in camera.

Hakeem also said that the SLMC had no political agreements with NTJ leader Zahran Hashim during the 2015 general election.

“People want to link SLMC with Zahran but we never had such an association with him,” he said. 

The Commissioners also questioned Hakeem on visiting the NTJ mosque and Zahran’s brother Rilwan Hashim in hospital following a clash on August 21, 2015.

Hakeem said that as a political leader he met many people every day and not everyone was known to him. He had visited several persons who were injured during a clash in Kattankudy, he added.

Hakeem said he had visited the NTJ mosque, after going to hospital, to inspect the damages, and Zahran had been present there. “At that time, Zahran had not even established a group named NTJ and that mosque was in a small hut,” he said.



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Foreign qualified medical students protest



A group of foreign medical degree holders protested opposite the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (23) requesting that tangible measures be taken to conduct the Examination for Registration to Practice Medicine (ERPM) without further delay.

They alleged that over 1,500 students had been deprived of the opportunity to sit the examination due to the fault of the Sri Lanka Medical Council, which is now under investigation by a committee, appointed by Health Minister Pavitra Wanniarachchi.

Photo: A section of the protesting students (pic by Thushara Atapattu)

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SJB insists referendum necessary besides 2/3 majority in Parliament



Supreme Court moved against 20A

By Chitra Weerarathne

General Secretary of the Samagi Jana Balavegaya Ranjith Madduma Bandara, MP, yesterday (23) filed a petition in the Supreme Court stating that the proposed 20th Amendment (20A) to the Constitution was inconsistent with the Constitution. It requires a two-thirds majority in Parliament and approval by people at a referendum for passage, the SJV has argued.

The SJB says 20A violates people’s sovereignty and franchise enshrined in Article (3) and (4) of the Constitution.

The petitioner has argued that the provisions in clause 55 of the Bill are inconsistent with the public trust doctrine and the principle of checks and balances and would prejudicially affect public finance.

 The clause 54 of the Bill seeks to repeal Article 156 A of the Constitution, which provides constitutional recognition to the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or corruption, the petition says.

 The petition says 20A seeks to repeal the prohibition on dual citizens being elected to Parliament and to the post of President.

The power of the Auditor General to audit the state institutions has been curtailed, the petition says, arguing that it could be detrimental to the economy.

It will be detrimental to the country if the Constitutional Council is replaced by a Parliamentary Council, the SJB General Secretary’s has contended in his petition.

Clause 20 (2) of the proposed 20A has restricted the powers of the Election Commission as regards the conduct of elections, the petitioner has argued.

The 20A states that an omission by the President could no longer be challenged through a fundamental rights violation petitions in the Supreme Court, the petitioner has said, adding that the Bill seeks to further enhance the powers of the President by allowing him to unilaterally remove the Prime Minister. The President would not be accountable to Parliament, the petition says.

The 20A would repeal Article 70/ (1) of the Constitution and enable the President to dissolve Parliament even immediately after a general election, the SJB General Secretary argues.

The respondent to the petition is the Attorney General.

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Lawyer Hijaz’s foundation received funds from banned foreign outfit – CID tells court



By A.J.A.A beynayake and Kasuni Rebecca

The CID yesterday informed the Colombo Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage that Save the Pearls Trust run by lawyer Hijaz Hisbullah, now in custody for allegedly aiding and abetting one of the Easter Sunday bombers, had received Rs.13 million from a banned organisation named the Caliphate of Qatar.

The CID told court that according to the bank accounts of the trust the money had been received by it during the last few years and the police had launched an investigation to ascertain whether the funds had been used for terrorist activities.

The CID told court the investigation had been launched under the Money Laundering Act and a psychologist’s opinion had been sought on the book titled “Navarasam” found in a madrasa (school teaching Islam) run by Save the Pearls Trust in Puttalam.

The Magistrate order the CID to submit to court a Sinhala translation of the book and examine whether the contents of the book promoted terrorism.

The case will be taken up again on October 7.

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