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Justice Balapatabendi-led PSC decision awaited

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Report on law officers’ failure to thwart Zahran

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The nine-member Public Service Commission (PSC), chaired by retired Supreme Court Justice Jagath Balapatabendi, is in the process of deciding on Attorney General’s Department investigation into the alleged negligence on the part of two of its officers – Deputy Solicitor General Azard Navavi and State Counsel Malik Azeez, in respect of the handling of a file on now proscribed National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) and its leader Zahran Hashim responsible for 2019 Easter Sunday carnage.

The PSC consists of Justice Jagath Balapatabendi, Indrani Sugathadasa, V. Shivagnanasothy, Dr. T. R. C. Ruberu, Ahamed Lebbe Mohamed Saleem, Leelasena Liyanagama, Dian Gomes, Dilith Jayaweera and W. H. Piyadasa.

The PSC yesterday (18) confirmed receipt of the disciplinary inquiry report late last month.

The action taken by the incumbent Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, pertaining to the alleged failure on the part of the two officers recently transpired in the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (P CoI).

At the time of the Easter Sunday attacks, President’s Counsel Jayantha Jayasuriya functioned as the AG. De Livera succeeded Jayasuriya, a week after the Easter carnage. Jayasuriya is the incumbent Chief Justice.

The P CoI on Thursday (17) inquired from State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne about the circumstances leading to AG de Livera writing to the then Acting IGP C.D. Wickramaratne on June 18, 2019 as regards the status of the Easter Sunday investigation. The P CoI was told contrary to claim that I’B extracts (comprehensive investigations material file) had been received on June 7, 2017, the AG got it on May 6, 2019.

The three-member AG’s Department committee that inquired into the conduct of the two law officers initiated the probe in Feb 2020, over 4 months after the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) concluded its investigation.

At the onset of Jayaratne’s testimony, many an eyebrow was raised when attorney-at-law Tenny Fernando appeared for the State Counsel without her knowledge. When the State Counsel emphasized Fernando was never asked to do so, the attorney-at-law said he appeared on his own without permission.



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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