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Hashim had phone conversation with suicide bomber’s brother two days prior to carnage, PCoI told



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Former minister Kabir Hashim had had a telephone conversation, two days before the Easter Sunday attacks, with Abdul Latheef Hakeem Mohamed, brother of Abdul Latheef Jameel Mohamed, who blew himself up at Tropical Inn lodge, in Dehiwala, the Attorney General’s Department revealed, on Thursday, before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.  

The call had lasted for 147 seconds, the AG’s representative said.

The Senior State Counsel (SSC), who led evidence asked the witness Kabir Hashim whether he had received a call from one of the suicide bombers two days before the attack.

“I was summoned to the CID in December 2019 and I was told I had received a 147-second call from a man named Hakeem two days before the Easter attack. At that point I said I did not remember.  I was then told Hakeem was the brother of the man who blew himself up at Tropical Inn lodge in Dehiwala.”

However, Hashim said that he did not remember receiving such a phone call. The Commission also drew his attention to the vandalising of Buddha statues in Mawanella area during the period December 23 to 26, 2018 and the attempt to kill his Coordinating Secretary, Mohammad Tasleem in early 2019. Tasleem had tipped off investigating officers about extremists and it was with his information that CID discovered explosives at the Jihadist training camp in Wanathawilluwa.

Hashim said that he had got Tasleem to assist the CID in its investigations into Islamic extremism.

“Only people who knew that Tasleem was helping in the investigations were CID officers and I. However someone shot Thasleem after the Wanathawilluwa operation and I informed the Cabinet of ministers of this. I also pointed out that it was a threat to my life as well.”

Former President Maithripala Sirisena had then informed Hashim that he would be invited to the National Security Council (NSC) one day, because it was important for national security.

“However I was not invited to the NSC,” Hashim  said.

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SL gets Rs 452 mn for saving ill-fated tanker: Rs. 3.4 bn asked for



By Ifham Nizam and Rathindra Kuruwita

The Marine Enviro-nment Protection Authority (MEPA) yesterday received Rs. 452 million from London for having saved MT New Diamond, a super oil tanker that caught fire in the Sri Lanka’s territorial waters last year.

MEPA General Manager, Dr. P. B. Terney Pradeep Kumara told The Island that Rs. 442 million had come for the services rendered by the Sri Lanka Navy, MEPA and Rs. 10 million by way of a fine imposed on the Ship’s Captain.

However, Sri Lanka has to receive a much larger amount for the damage caused to the marine environment, Dr. Kumara said. Following the incident, Sri Lankan authorities filed charges against the Captain of the ill-fated vessel and made a claim for $2.4 million from the ship’s owners for the firefighting and pollution prevention efforts.

Twenty experts from the Universities of Moratuwa, Ruhuna and Sri Jayewardenepura submitted their recommendations as regards the damage to the environment, to the Attorney General. Based on the report, the Attorney General’s Department had asked for Rs. 3.4 billion (around USD 19 million) as compensation for environmental damage, the Coordinating Officer for the Attorney General, state counsel Nishara Jayaratne said.

Soon they would have discussions with the lawyers of the shipping agent concerned on compensation for environmental damage caused, she said.

Dr. Kumara, who is the former Head of the Department of Oceanography/Marine Geology of the Ruhuna University, said that the incident had caused deaths among marine species due to spillage of some toxic fuel from the vessel.

The MT New Diamond crude oil tanker was transporting 270,000 MT oil from the port of Meena Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Port of Paradip in India when a fire broke out in its engine room as the vessel was passing the eastern seas of Sri Lanka on September 3, 2020.

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PSC on gender equality meets for the first time



State Minister, Fernandopulle flanked by two other PSC members

Special attention on microfinance

The Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to further gender equality, to investigate instances of discrimination against women and to present recommendations to Parliament, focused on microfinance loans that are currently affecting a large number of women in Sri Lanka, when they met for the first time in Parliament recently.

The meeting was chaired by the State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID-19 Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle.

It was also revealed that the Cabinet had approved the re-establishment of an institution to regulate Microfinance loans in Sri Lanka.

The MPs also discussed the role of the Select Committee. They decided that the primary role of the Committee should be to investigate women’s grievances and all forms of discrimination based on gender, including workplace violence.

Another task before this committee is to examine and review laws that can be used to enhance gender equality, encourage relevant ministries and authorities to formulate plans to further gender equality and to allocate financial resources.

The Committee will also try to encourage greater women’s representation in decision-making bodies at the national and provincial levels as well as in government, civil society and the private sector.

MPs Rohini Kaviratne, (Dr.) Harini Amarasuriya, M. Udayakumar, S. Sritharan, Rohana Bandara and the Secretary to the Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of the Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera were also present at the meeting.



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A/L Examination from October 04 to 30



The 2021 GCE Advanced Level examination would be held from October 4 to 30, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday addressing the media at his Ministry.

Minister Peiris said the examination was earlier scheduled to be held in August.

The Grade 5 scholarship examination would be held on October 03 and the 2021 GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) examination in the last week of January 2022, the Minister said.

“Usually, schools are open for academic activities for around 200 days a year. But in 2020, schools were open for about 150 days. It was around 130 days in the Western Province. We were not able to fill this gap with online classes due to lack of internet facilities in many parts of the country,” he said.

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