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Naufer Easter Sunday carnage mastermind -Public Security Minister



By Rathindra Kuruwita

The mastermind of the Easter Sunday attacks was Naufer Moulavi, a mentor of NTJ leader Zahran Hashim, Minister of Public Security, Dr. Sarath Weerasekera said yesterday, when asked by a journalist whether there had been a foreign hand behind the attacks. Former Jamaat-e-Islami leader, Rasheed Hajjul Akbar too had played a main role, the Minister said.

The Minister said so at a press briefing in Colombo on the future of the report on the PCoI on the Easter carnage.

Weerasekera also said that there was no concrete evidence to prove that Pulasthini Rajendran alias Sarah Jasmine, the wife of Atchchi Muhammadu Muhammadu Hastun, who detonated a suicide bomb at St. Sebastian’s Church, Katuwapitiya on 21 April 2019, had escaped to India.

A journalist told the Minister that during the sittings of the PCoI on the attacks several key witnesses had said there was a foreign involvement in the attacks; some witnesses said they had seen Sara a few months after the attacks and a policeman had been arrested on the allegations that he had helped Sara escape to India.

However, the Minister said that they was no concrete evidence to suggest Sara was alive, although according to the DNA tests, Sara was not among those killed at a Jihadist safe house at Sainthamaruthu on April 26, 2019.

“There were so many body parts there and we must test all of them again to determine whether she was not died there. We have not done a second batch of DNA testing,” Minister Weerasekera said.

The Public Security Minister said that the Attorney General had been given files on 32 suspects for legal action to be instituted; eight more files containing police investigations on each of the attack sites had also been sent. The Attorney General would file cases against suspects of the Easter Sunday.

Weerasekera said that the AG had to study a large volume of documents. The Police had sent eight files on each of the Easter Sunday attack sites to the AG about two months back, he said.

“Those files run into thousands of pages. The PCoI report contains about 100,000 pages. The AG has to go through everything. The AG has appointed a team of 12 lawyers, and they are studying all these documents. They might also have to ask the police to do further investigations. This is not an easy task. In the US and India, some terror suspects have not been charged for years. Time is needed to build a sold case,” he said.

Minister of Mass Media, Keheliya Rambukwella toldthe media said that Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith had demanded legal action against those named in the PCoI report.

Rambukwella said that the government couldn’t decide whom to be prosecuted. The PCoI had made recommendations and the AG had the responsibility to implement them. 

Journalists then asked the Minister whether the government would initiate legal action against former President Maithripala Sirisena, who is the head of a constituent party of the government. On Sunday, Cardinal Ranjith specifically asked the government to take legal action against Sirisena.

“We don’t intervene in these matters. The AG will decide,” Minister Rambukwella said.

Journalists also asked Minister Weerasekera whether action would be taken against policemen whose lapses had contributed to the attacks. The Cardinal too raised concerns about a top policeman in the Central Province named in the PCoI report.

Minister Weerasekera said that he had instructed the IGP to hold a disciplinary inquiry and take action against policemen who were still in the service.

 “The Cardinal is happy with the work the police have done. There is a delay because the AG has to study all documents and build a strong case.”




AG says no legal impediment to Bathiudeen attending Parliament



Public Security Minister: Those detained under PTA shouldn’t be allowed in

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, says there is no legal impediment to Opposition MP Rishad Bathiudeen attending Parliament while being detained in terms of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

The CID arrested the leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) in the early hours of April 24 for aiding and abetting the 2019 Easter Sunday suicide bombers.

Multiple blasts in different locations killed 270 people and wounded about 500.

The AG set the record straight in the wake of the CID failing to arrange for MP Bathiudeen to attend Parliament on May 4 and 5.

The Island learns that Police Headquarters recently consulted the AG as regards the legality of the Vanni District SJB MP attending parliamentary sessions and the SJB, on his behalf, requested the Speaker to facilitate the arrangements.

The ACMC contested the last general election on the SJB ticket. Its parliamentary group comprises four, including Bathiudeen.

The police sought the AG’s advice after having received a missive from Serjeant at arms Narendra Fernando in that regard. The AG has advised the police that MP Bathiudeen could attend parliamentary sessions.

However, Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera has advised the police against the ACMC leader attending Parliament. The Minister has issued instructions in this regard having requested the Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to prevent those detained under the PTA from attending parliament.

MP Bathiudeen has been detained for a period of 90 days pending investigations. His brother Riyajj too has been detained under PTA for 90 days.

 Minister Weerasekera, in Parliament yesterday (5) defended his decision to prevent MP Bathiudeen from attending parliament. Dismissing concerns raised by SJB MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka and TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran about the ACMC leader being deprived of his right to attend parliament sessions, Minister Weerasekera emphasized that he was responsible for public security.

Minister Weerasekera reminded Speaker Abeywardena that he had requested him not to allow anyone detained under PTA to attend parliament pending conclusion of investigations.

Weerasekera said that the CID wouldn’t have detained the MP concerned without valid reasons.

Perhaps, Field Marshal Fonseka had no concerns for public security, the former Navy Chief of Staff said, emphasising that the government wouldn’t conduct investigations the way the former Army Commander and the TNA spokesman desired.

Bathiudeen earlier served in the Cabinets of President Mahinda Rajapaksa (2010-2014) and President Maithripala Sirisena (2015-2019). The ACMC switched its allegiance to SJB at the 2020 August parliamentary election after having backed Sajith Premadasa’s candidature at the 2019 presidential.

Bathiudeens’ lawyer Rushdhie Habeeb told The Island that the decision to prevent MP Bathiudeen from attending parliament was political. Habeeb said that the issue at hand would be raised vigorously, both here and abroad, and a media briefing would be called soon to explain the situation.

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MONLAR draws attention to ticking COVID time bomb in plantations



By Rathindra Kuruwita

A large number of estate workers had been diagnosed with COVID-19, and given the generally congested living environment and lack of health facilities on plantations, the entire estate sector was a ticking time bomb, Moderator of the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) Chinthaka Rajapakshe said yesterday.

Rajapakshe told The Island  that the latest outbreak on the estates had occurred after the return of some persons from Colombo during the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

“We had warned that this would happen. People kept on returning home although the preparedness of the plantation economy to face a COVID-19 outbreak was non-existent.”

 “If one person gets it, the entire line will get it, and therefore urgent steps should be taken to minimise COVID-19 spread,” Rajapakshe said, adding that such an eventuality would not only destroy lives but also cripple the plantation sector, causing an enormous loss to the state coffers.



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Clandestine dealings of fishers will precipitate spread of deadly Indian variant here – Expert



By Rathindra Kuruwita

There was a risk of the deadly Indian COVID-19 variant spreading to Sri Lanka as well, Chief Epidemiologist of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sudath Samaraweera told the media yesterday in Colombo.

Dr. Samaraweera said that Sri Lankan fishermen continued to interact with their Indian counterparts in mid-sea and therefore it was only a matter of time before the Indian variant entered Sri Lanka.

“We must be extremely vigilant. We have seen the devastation caused by this variant in India. These mid-sea interactions by the fishing community must be stopped.”

Dr. Samaraweera added that although the Dambulla Economic Centre

had been reopened for business yesterday morning, health officials had been compelled to close five shops as their owners violated the Covid-19 protocol.    

“This is a commercial hub where people from all parts of the country converge. So, if there are COVID-19 cases here, then it will spread across the country. Therefore, people have to act carefully and responsibly.”

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