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Nirupama overseas, yet to appear before CIABOC



TISL considering fresh complaint as regards Paskaralingam

Pandora Papers:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) inquiring into Pandora Papers’ disclosure of assets held by Thirukumar Nadesan and his wife, Nirupama Rajapaksa hasn’t been able to record her statement yet as she is overseas.

The CIABOC questioned Nadesan for two days. Well-informed sources told The Island that Thirukumar Nadesan had informed the CIABOC of his wife’s inability to appear before the outfit as she was abroad for medical reasons. Nadesan has assured that once returned she would appear before the CIABOC.

The Pandora Papers revealed assets held offshore by former Deputy Minister of Water Supply and Drainage Nirupama Rajapaksa and her husband Thirukumar Nadesan. As the investigation progresses, Pandora Papers have revealed how Ramalingam Paskaralingam one-time advisor to slain President Ranasinghe Premadasa, the late President Dingiri Banda Wijetunga and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe created trusts and companies in the British Virgin Islands to hold millions of dollars, invested in the private Horizon College situated at Malabe and buy property in the U.K.

Sources said that an interim report on the issue at hand prepared by the CIABOC would be soon shared with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa as requested by the Director General of the Presidential Legal Division, Attorney-at-Law Harigupta Rohanadeera.

The President’s Office asked for a report from the CIABOC by Nov 06, 2021 in the wake of the Pandora Papers disclosures.

The CIABOC comprises retired Supreme Court Justice Eva Wanasundera, retired Court of Appeal Justice Deepali Wijesundera and retired DIG Chandra Nimal Wakista. The retired top policeman had served as the head of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) during the previous Rajapaksa administration.

In terms of the 20A to the Constitution, the Commissioners are named by the President.

Sources said that the CIABOC had received several complaints as regards the Pandora exposures in addition to the request made by the President’s Office. Responding to another query, sources said that their own investigation unit would continue to probe and was in touch with the relevant authorities.

Sources said the local case had taken a new turn with the disclosure of the Paskaralingam’s involvement as he served as an economic adviser to Wickremesinghe during the yahapalana administration. Paskaralingam also served Wickremesinghe from 2002 to 2004.

Transparency International Sri Lanka executive Director attorney-at-law Nadishani Perera yesterday told The Island that in the wake of Pandora Papers disclosure of Paskaralingam, the outfit would consider further steps in addition to the complaint lodged with the CIABOC as regards Nadesan and Nirupama Rajapaksa. Asked whether they would lodge another complaint, Perera said that it was an option. The top TISL spokesperson said that a much wider investigation involving relevant authorities was needed to probe the revelations properly.

TISL has written to the President, the Speaker of Parliament and the Elections Commission of Sri Lanka calling for the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities of Former Deputy Minister Nirupama Rajapaksa. The request was made under the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities law (1975) and the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities (Amendment) law (1988).

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UK funds projects here to prevent conflicts that threaten its interests



GoSL not among recipients

‘The CSSF is a cross government fund which supports and delivers activity to prevent instability and conflicts that threaten UK interests’

– UK Govt. website

The British High Commission yesterday (25) announced funding for projects worth £3.7m in 2022/23 here to thwart instability and conflicts that threaten British interests.

The announcement came after the conclusion of the visit of British Foreign Minister, Lord Tariq Ahmad, who is also Minister of State for South Asia, the UN, and the Commonwealth and the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict. The British official visited Jaffna and Trincomalee.

The British HC quoted Lord Ahmad as having said: “Building lasting and inclusive peace in Sri Lanka, based on reconciliation, justice and protecting human rights is key to a stable Sri Lanka, which can attract foreign investment and achieve its economic potential. We are pleased to announce continued support to Sri Lanka through the Conflict, Stability, and Security Fund (CSSF) to address legacies of conflict, promote human rights and build cohesion across all

communities through programme funding of up to £3.7m in 2022/23.”

In response to The Island query whether the Sri Lankan government would be among the recipients of CSSF funding, BHC spokesperson said: “The funding is for programmes and projects implemented with support from BHC. All CSSF programming in Sri Lanka, will be delivered through a combination of civil society, private sector, and international development partners.”

According to the UK government website, the CSSF addressed complex national security challenges and promote international peace and stability. The National Security Council (NSC), which is chaired by the Prime Minister and attended by senior cabinet ministers, sets the CSSF’s strategic direction. It is guided by the priorities set out in the 2021 Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy.

The BHC stated: “Lord Ahmad met senior members of the government, including President Gotabaya Rajapaska and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. He discussed the importance of the UK Sri Lanka relationship and areas of mutual interest such as climate change and economic recovery from Covid-19. The Minister also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of Sri Lanka on Healthcare Cooperation, which will improve knowledge sharing, best practice and expertise on healthcare, and develop an ethical and sustainable recruitment programme for the employment of Sri Lankan nurses and other healthcare professionals in the UK.

During his visit to the North and Eastern Provinces, the Minister met with local politicians and civil society. He discussed key Tamil and Muslim concerns, local governance and inclusive political engagement participation. He emphasised the UK’s support for open, tolerant and inclusive societies as well as freedom of religion or belief.

Throughout his visit to Sri Lanka, Lord Ahmad heard about the essential role civil society play in promoting respect for human rights and their views on how to make progress on reconciliation and accountability.”

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UGC Chief receives ‘The Order of the Rising Sun’ twice



Senior Prof. Amaratunga poses for a photograph with Amb Sugiyama after receiving the title

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Senior Professor Sampath Amaratunga, Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC) has received the prestigious Japanese title ‘The Order of the Rising Sun’ twice.

The academic received the title the highest order conferred by the Government of Japan in the name of His Majesty the Emperor, on 14 Oct. 2021 from the then Japanese Ambassador in Colombo Akira Sugiyama at his official residence.

For the second time, the UGC Chief received the same title from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at Dharmavijayaloka Vihara in Rukmale in Pannipitiya at an event organised on 22 January, 2022.

The Presidential Media Division said that President Rajapaksa after receiving the award

from W.K.H. Wegapitiya, Chairman of University of Sri Jayewardenepura Alumni Association and Japanese Ambassador Mizukoshi Hideaki presented it to Senior Professor Sampath Amaratunga.

Prof. Amaratunga poses for a photograph with President Rajapaksa

Prof. Sunil Ariyaratne delivered the keynote address on the occasion.

‘The Order of the Rising Sun’ is conferred by His Majesty on individuals who have made distinguished achievements in international relations, promotion of Japanese culture et al.

The Japanese embassy announced Senior Prof. Amaratunga and Manoj Fernando, Executive Vice President of the Sri Lanka Baseball/Softball Association (SLBSA) received the award.

The Chancellor of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Most Ven. Ittapana Dhammalankara Thera has presented a memento to Japanese Ambassador Mizukoshi Hideaki.

W.K.H. Wegapitiya and Prof. Sudantha Liyanage, Vice Chancellor of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, presented a memento to the President. The members of Maha Sangha, MP S.B. Dissanayake, Chancellors and Vice Chancellors of the Universities, and alumni of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura were also present.

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Cardinal insists on taking Easter killings to int’l community



Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has said they are left with no alternative but to turn to the international community to seek justice for victims of the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings, according to a report published by the Union of Catholic Asian News yesterday (25).

“We tried our best to solve the issue within the country and do justice to our people but have failed,” he said during an online forum with an international audience on Jan. 24.

“The legal system under the Attorney General does not consider the recommendations of the presidential commission on the Easter attacks, therefore we have no option but to go international.”

Cardinal Ranjith had hinted in April 2021 of his intentions to not only approach the United Nations but also countries with global influence.

“We can influence those countries as the Church is an international organisation. We have connections all over the world,”he said.

A group of suicide bombers affiliated to local Islamist group National Thowheed Jamaath was suspected to be behind the bombings at three churches and three luxury hotels on Easter Sunday in 2019. The attacks killed 269 people, including 37 foreign nationals, and left around 500 injured.

Catholics in Sri Lanka have not been happy with the investigations and led by Cardinal Ranjith have vowed to fight for justice until the truth behind the attacks is revealed.

Cardinal Ranjith said he was not satisfied with the investigations underway since the recovery of a live hand grenade at All Saints’ Church in Borella on Jan. 11.

Muni, a church worker, has been arrested as a suspect by police but the local Church alleged he was being falsely implicated.

Cardinal Ranjith said that such a thing will not be allowed to happen. “We trust the judiciary to take steps to rectify the wrongdoing in the court,” he said.

The arrest of a retired doctor in connection with the same case had further raised suspicion, with Father Cyril Gamini questioning the police investigations.

“We understand that this is an attempt at fabricating a story. The whole country knows that this is a drama and we can see it is a very weak script,” he said.

Father Gamini was earlier questioned by the Criminal Investigation Department over his claims regarding the Easter Sunday attacks during an online forum last November.

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