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MP denies trying to help fugitive through BIA

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Person accused in case of whiskey turning to coloured water given bail

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Colombo District SLPP lawmaker Madura Vithanage yesterday (18) denied making an attempt to help fugitive Jayalath Krishan Peiris leave the Bandaranaike International Airport, recently, having arrived from Dubai.

MP Vithanage said that Peiris was on the same Emirates flight 652 with him though they weren’t together. “Yes, I knew him though didn’t in any way try to take him out through the VIP section,” lawmaker Vithanage said. The flight arrived at the BIA in the early hours of January 10.

MP Vithanage said so when The Island sought his response to accusations regarding him trying to help Peiris leave the BIA. Having informed Peiris that there was an open warrant for him, law enforcement authorities had taken him away, MP Vithanage said.

A social media post alleged that Puttalam District MP and State Minister Arundika Fernando had been there to receive Peiris. Journalist Tharindu Uduwegedara, who made the allegation said the detection that had been made at the BIA by law enforcement authorities didn’t receive the required media attention.

MP Vithnage said that his colleague Arundika Fernando had been there to receive Peiris and therefore he witnessed the intervention made by authorities; MP Fernando didn’t answer his mobile phone.

Peiris has been previously investigated by the Customs for the illegal importation of ethanol and was also remanded for the same offense on a different occasion.

MP Vithanage said that he would lodge complaints with the TRC (Telecommunications Regulatory Commission), the PCC (Press Complaints Commission) and the police against what he called extremely unfair reportage on social media.

According to the first time entrant to the Parliament those who produced and posted videos on social media didn’t at least bother to contact him.

Airport and Aviation Chairman General (retd.) G.A. Chandrasiri, declined to comment on the incident.

Police spokesman SSP Nihal Thalduwa told The Island that Criminal Investigations Department (CID) unit based at the BIA arrested Peiris on the basis of an open warrant issued by courts. Attorney-at-Law Thalduwa emphasized that there hadn’t been any interference by any party and the suspect later produced before the Colombo Magistrate’s Court, was granted bail. The top police official denied the CID informing him of the presence of lawmakers at the time Peiris was arrested.

Counsel for Peiris, Sanka Amarjith said that his client returned to the country fulfilling an assurance to the court that he would come back. The Counsel emphasized that his client didn’t face any narcotics related offense as speculated but was taken into custody regarding an ongoing case.

Peiris was wanted in connection with investigations into a Customs racket carried out at the Global Park bonded warehouse at Seeduwa run by Global Transportation and Logistics (Pvt) Ltd. The Customs sealed the place in August 2020 in the wake of a CID probe into the collusion of Customs officers in the stealing of imported bottles of whiskey meant for re-export and releasing them to the local market.

Former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake’s wife Mela and daughter Onella served on the director board of the company that runs the Global Park.

Cases of Johnnie Walker Black Label were being taken from Global Park to the Ace Container Yard in Wattala for re-export on August 14 when midway, around 900 bottles were replaced with bottles containing coloured water, authoritative sources said.

Items that are stored in bonded warehouses are duty-free and strictly for re-export. When transported anywhere in the country, even between warehouses, Customs officials must accompany the goods.



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Govt. allows private operators to import fuel for industries – minister

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ECONOMYNEXT – The Government has allowed private bunker fuel operators to import fuel for industries, Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said on Friday, in a bid to reduce the burden on cash-strapped state-run fuel retailer Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC).

The move comes as a severe dollar shortage has reduced CPC’s ability to import fuel and meet the demand as earlier amid long motorists’ queues for fuel.

“Approval was given to all the private bunker fuel operators to import and provide diesel and fuel oil requirements of industries to function their Generators and Machinery,” Wijesekera said in his Twitter platform.

“This will ease the burden on CPC and fuel stations providing in bulk. The meeting was held yesterday.”

Approval was given to all the Private Bunker Fuel Operators to Import and provide Diesel and Fuel Oil requirements of Industries to function their Generators and Machinery. This will ease the burden on CPC and Fuel Stations providing in bulk. The meeting was held yesterday. pic.twitter.com/dhAonet10J

— Kanchana Wijesekera (@kanchana_wij) May 27, 2022

In April, Sri Lanka cabinet has agreed to amend the Petroleum Products Act making provisions to issue licenses to “properly identified parties” to import fuel which will end an import monopoly held by the CPC.

There was a push to make the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) to import its own oil as the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation was unable to get foreign exchange and the power utility ran out of cash due to lack of a price increases.

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Protesters ask PM to serve justice for May 09 attack

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ECONOMYNEXT – Hundreds of anti-government protesters agitated in front of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesighe ’s office Colombo demanding justice for May 09 attack by the supporters of previous prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and immediate measures to overcome ongoing economic crisis to prevent a looming social unrest.

The youth-led groups which had been protesting near presidential secretariat and prime minister’s official residence in the heart of commercial Colombo shifted neat the prime minister’s office and shouted against the new government’s inaction against the brutal attack at unarmed and peaceful protesters by Rajapaksa supporters on May 09.

They demanded the new Prime Minister Wickremesinghe to implement the rule of law without being biased to any parties and serve the country.

Rukshan, a 25 years old protester said, as per the initial demands of their protests, former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned from his position, but his successor should do his duties towards the country and the people without trying to protect corrupt politicians.

“When we started the protest back in April our main demand was to bring all Rajapaksas before justice and get all the wealth they have stolen from the common people of this country,”  Rukshan told Economy Next.

The protest started around mid-day on Thursday (26) and protesters’ route was blocked by police barricades on the main road in front of the prime minister’s office.

The protesters, however, withdrew from their positions and regrouped at a nearby road to go towards the Wickremesinghe’s office.

However, by the time the protesters regrouped, a court order was issued by the Fort Magistrate to stop the protest due to inconvenience to the public.

“Ranil Wickramasinghe should remember why he is here now. We’re not asking him to resign. He is here to do his duty towards this country and its people,” Rukshan said.

“On May 09, we were attacked but no justice has been served yet. That is the main reason we came today to the prime minister’s office,” he said.

“We still see queues for medicine, fuel, and gas. To be honest, there is no medicine in the market. No medicine for cancer patients. If you get bitten by a dog, then there is no medicine for you. They (the market) don’t have any of that.”

Wickremesinghe has been working over a new budget and discussing with international partners to ensure uninterrupted supply of essentials, officials close to him have said. However, it will take time, they say.

Rukshan said the country is running due to the state workers, who are working as they are being paid salaries after the government’s excess money printing.

“When that stops, then there will definitely be a revolution in this country,” he said.

“When a person goes to office in the morning, there is no fuel for the vehicle, or no public transport available. They get late and the salaries are being cut because of that. And when they come home, they don’t have gas to cook a meal.”

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Weerawansa’s wife gets two years for passport offence

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Her lawyers file appeal challenging sentence

Colombo Chief Magistrate Buddhika Sri Ragala on Friday sentenced Shashi Weerawansa the wife of former minister Wimal Weerawansa to two years in prison. Shashi was found guilty of using falsified documents to obtain a passport.

The Magistrate also ordered the accused to pay a fine of Rs. 100,000 in addition to the imprisonment and an additional six months of jail if she does not pay the fine.

Sashi Weerawansa is found guilty by the court for obtaining diplomatic and general passports by submitting birth certificates with forged names and dates of birth.

She had applied for a diplomatic passport in 2010 by submitting false personal information which was different to what appears in her previous normal passport that expired on May 24, 2009.

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