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K’gala Mayor present at Johnston’s duty assuming ceremony

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Arrest warrants suspended pending CA final determination

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Following Wednesday’s Court of Appeal order, suspending the arrest warrant on him, Kurunegala Mayor Thushara Sanjeewa was seen with the newly appointed Highways Minister Johnston Fernando on Thursday (13).

 Thushara was present when Minister Fernando launched a new project to rehabilitate the Wajuragnana road in Kurunagala.

 Addressing the gathering Minister Fernando explained why he had defended the Mayor although interested parties misinterpreted his comments. The Minister reiterated that he would neither protect wrongdoers nor allow innocents to be targeted.

The Mayor, too, in his welcome speech explained the challenges faced by him in the run-up to the general election.

Thushara filed a writ petition on August 11 after Kurunegala Magistrate re-issued warrants after the police failed to execute original arrest orders issued on August 6.

The August 12 order was delivered by a Court of Appeal bench consisting of its President Justice A.H.M.D. Nawaz and Justice Sobhitha Rajakaruna.

 The warrants were suspended pending Court of Appeal determination as regards Kurunegala Mayor’s writ petition to be delivered on August 24.

Kurunegala Magistrate Court also imposed a travel ban preventing the suspects from leaving the country.  The five suspects are Kurunegala Mayor Sanjeeva Thushara Vitharana, Municipal Commissioner Pradeep Nishantha Thilakaratne, Municipal Engineer Chaminda Bandara Adhikari and two other officials, Illaludeen Sulfica and Lakshman Priyantha.

 Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, intervened in the wake of heavy reportage of the demolition of a part of an archaeological construction considered the royal pavilion of King Bhuvanaikabahu II. The incident took place over two weeks before the Aug 5 parliamentary election.

 Acting IGP C.D. Wickramaratne was directed to make the arrests on charges under Antiquities Ordinance & the Public Property Act.

 At a recent media conference called by the Attorney General, Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris and Additional Solicitor General Sumathi Dharmawardena explained the failure on the part of the police to execute arrest warrants issued in respect of the fugitives. Focusing on the police inaction, DSG Peiris questioned how fugitive Superintendent of Negombo prison Anuruddha Sampayo visited Hulftsdorp to sign a court document while the police were looking for him.

The DSG went to the extent of suggesting relevant authorities would seek the assistance of the armed forces to execute arrest warrants in the face of police failure to do so.

 A committee appointed by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, having inquired into the Kurunegala incident recommended legal action against all those responsible for the demolition, and the cost of restoration of the site be charged from the individuals and institutions responsible for it. Altogether, the Committee headed by Director-General of Archeology Professor Senarath Dissanayake, included District Secretary R. M. J. Ratnayake, Archaeologist T. G. Kulatunga, Deputy Director of Archeology at the Ministry of Cultural Affairs Archaeologist Prasad Ranasinghe and Director of the Central Cultural Fund Architect Sumedha Matota.

 

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SLFP: PCoI has exceeded its mandate and failed to address critical issues

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

President Maithripala Sirisena appointed the PCoI on Easter Sunday Attacks to identify local and international forces behind the attacks, establish the motives of those groups and to punish those who were directly and indirectly responsible for the attacks, but those issues had not been addressed by the PCoI’s final report, the SLFP said yesterday.

 SLFP General Secretary, Dayasiri Jayasekera said that the party’s Executive Committee had discussed the report in depth on Thursday and decided that the Commission had not addressed the issues it had been appointed to probe.

On the other hand, some of its recommendations have gone beyond its mandate.

Issuing a press release, the SLFP said that while the PCoI observed that former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had been soft on Islamic extremism and his government had not taken active steps in combating extremism, however, the PCoI had treated Wickremesinghe with kid gloves while taking a tough stance on former President Maithripala Sirisena.

 “The former President took over the Ministry of Law and Order on 30 October 2018, i.e. only five months and twenty days before the attacks. None of those who held the post before have been accused of anything. The report also focuses little on those who planned the attacks, those who financed the attacks and those who protected the attackers. Moreover, although there is evidence to prove that the weapons found in Muslim mosques after the attacks had been brought in by ships; the report had not investigated it in-depth,” the SLFP said.

 The party also said Pulastini Rajendran alias Sara Jasmine, the wife of Mohommadu Hastun, a suicide bomber, had fled to India sometime after the attacks. However, the Commission had not only paid any attention to it but also had ignored what could have been found.

 “The mandate set by President Sirisena says to look at current or former state officials who are directly or indirectly linked to these incidents. There is no mandate for the Commission to look into whether the head of the state or ministers have fulfilled their constitutional duties. Thus, the recommendations on the former President are beyond the PCoI’s mandate. The pages 292 and 293 of the report state that President Sirisena had instructed the Police to arrest NTJ leader Zahran Hashim at the National Security Council. However, they also insist that the former President had not carried out its duties and responsibilities. Page 296 says that the former President not appointing an acting Defence Minister when he left for India and Singapore was a violation of the Constitution. However, in another place the Commissioners say that making such appointments is at the President’s discretion,” the SLFP said in a press release.

 The SLFP also states that the former President had carried out his duties and the report has ample evidence of it. Thus, there is no way that criminal proceedings can be instituted against him.

 “The concept that criminal proceedings can be instituted against a President for not carrying out some duty sets a bad precedent and is a slight to the power given to the President by the Constitution. The US and New Zealand security agencies had received information about 9/11 and the Christchurch shootings but the heads of the states were not charged. We vehemently refuse the allegations against the former President and reject many of the other recommendations too.”

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Dubai haven for majority of Lankan fugitives with INTERPOL red notices

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By Pradeep Prasanna Samarakoon

Police had obtained INTERPOL Red Notices against 24 drug traffickers hiding overseas, police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said.

In addition, DIG Rohana said INTERPOL blue notices had been issued for 87 wanted criminals who were currently residing overseas.

The DIG said a majority of the suspects were reported to be hiding in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, while some were in neighbouring India and European countries.

The country’s law enforcement agencies had seized over 1,610 kilos of heroin in 2020 alone, the DIG noted, adding that last year 33,125 suspects had been arrested for possessing heroin and 1,400 others for having in their possession synthetic drugs.

About 61,550 persons had been arrested for narcotic-related offences, in 2020, said the Police Spokesperson, noting that intelligence reports had suggested there was a shortage of heroin in the local drug market due to continuous raids carried out by law enforcement authorities. That had led to a rise in the use of synthetic drugs, such as ICE, he added.

INTERPOL assistance had been sought to extradite 129 Lankans wanted for various crimes, he said.

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Organise State Vesak festival at Nagadeepa with those of other religions- PM 

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Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa who is also the Minister of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs has instructed authorities to hold this year’s State Vesak Festival at the Nagadeepa Raja Maha Viharaya in Jaffna focusing on the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

The Prime Minister at a meeting held at Temple Trees on Thursday evening had given instructions to the Secretary to the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Cultural and Religious Affairs Prof Kapila Gunawardena to organize the State Vesak Festival together with those following other religions.

Accordingly, the Departments of Hindu, Christian and Muslim Affairs under the Ministry of Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs, will join in the efforts to organize the event.

Among those present were Sanghanayake of the Northern Province Chief Incumbent of the Nagadeepa Vihara Ven Dr. Dharmakeerthi Sri Navadagala Padaumakitthi Nayaka Thera, Sanghanayake of the Eastern and Thamankaduwa Ven Munhene Mettharama thera, Sanghanayake of the Matara-Hambantota districts Adrahere Kassapa Nayaka thera, State Minister Vidura Wickramanayake, MP Suren Raghawan and officials of the Ministry of Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs.

 

 

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