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PCoI members visit Katuwapitiya Church, one of the prime targets of Easter terrorists

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By Rathindra Kuruwita 

Members of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks visited St. Sebastian’s Church, Katuwapitiya on Saturday (15).

St. Sebastian’s Church was one of the targets of National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) terrorists on 21 April, 2019. The suicide bomb attack was carried out by Atchchi Muhammadu Muhammadu Hasthun.

One hundred and fifteen Easter worshipers at Katuwapitiya were killed during the attack. Among the 115 dead in Katuwapitiya, 32 were children (9 boys and 23 girls.) Ten children were killed in the Kochchikade Church blast (6 boys and 4 girls.) More than 253 persons injured at Katuwapitiya. About 37 Easter worshippers are still in critical condition (17 from Katuwapitiya and 20 from Kochchikade.)

Father Nishantha Lawrance Ramanayake, Director of Seth Sarana, earlier told the PCoI that the Catholic Church had opened six bank accounts after the Easter Sunday attacks and by 31 March 2020 and the members of the public had donated Rs. 518 million, the witness said. The funds had been used to assist the victims and their families.

Two hundred and eighty one families were affected by the bomb blast at the St. Sebastian Church in Katuwapitiya, 114 affected families by the blast at St. Anthony’s Church, Kochchikade and those affected at the Zion church, Batticaloa were given Rs. 147.4 million in assistance so far, Father Ramanayake said, adding that the Church continued to support those who were injured in the attacks.

“281 families affected by the blast at St. Sebastian Church in Katuwapitiya were given RS. 95.579 million; 114 families affected at St. Anthony’s Church, Kochchikade were given 41.9 million and Rs. 10 million was given to those affected at the Zion Church/”

 

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EC member Hoole moves SC against 20A

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Petitions challenging 20A before five-judge bench of SC today 

By Chitra Weerarathne

Petitions filed in the Supreme Court, challenging the constitutionality of the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka, will be called before a five-judge bench today.

These petitions have said that people’s approval at a referendum as well as a two-thirds majority in Parliament will be needed to enact the Bill.

All the petitions have basically said that the Bill has a section, which says a dual citizen can contest to enter the Parliament of Sri Lanka and run for President threatened national security.

The petitions challenge the powers vested in the President. The President could sack the Prime Minister and the Ministers. Once the Bill becomes law, fundamental rights petitions could not be filed to challenge an act of the President, the petitions have pointed out.

The investigating powers of the Auditor General have been curtailed. The powers vested in the Elections Commission when an election is on is also limited, the petitioners have argued.

The petitions have requested the Supreme Court to declare that a two-thirds majority in Parliament and people’s approval at a referendum will be needed to enact the proposed amendment.

Among the petitioners are Elections Commission member Ratnajeevan Hoole, the Samagi Jana Balavegaya, Attorney-at-Law Indika Gallage, Mayantha Dissanayake, S. J. B. Member of Parliament for the Kandy District and also the President of the Youth League of the Samagi Jana Balavegaya.

The Supreme Court bench will comprise the Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Justice Buwaneka Aluwihare, Justice Sisira de Abrew, Justice S. Thurairajah and Justice Vijith K. Malalgoda.

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Senasinghe announces quitting politics

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By Akitha Perera

Former non-cabinet minister of the yahapalana government Sujeewa Senasinghe announced yesterday that he would quit politics. 

He had also stepped down as the SJB Deputy Secretary, Senasinghe said. 

Senasinghe said that he intended to focus on his business in the future and that he would commence work on his PhD from January 2021. 

He unsuccessfully contested the Aug 05 general election from the Colombo district on SJB ticket.

Senasinghe commenced his political career as a member of the Western Provincial Council of the UNP. He was elected to Parliament twice from the same party. 

He earned notoriety by publishing a book denying the bond scam ever took place.

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Pujith insists his hands were tied during crucial period 

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

He had been aware that the activities and preaching of Islamists would have an impact on reconciliation, but those in higher positions were convinced otherwise, former IGP Pujith Jayasundara, yesterday, told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

The ex-IGP said that although he too had received information about activities of Islamic extremists by late 2018, he had been barred from the National Security Council (NSC) by then.

“I couldn’t share the information I had and I didn’t know what was discussed there. I couldn’t even assign a senior officer to represent me there.”

Jayasundara added that after he had received, on April 09, a report from State Intelligence Service (SIS) Director Nilantha Jayawardena about a possible terrorist attack, he forwarded the report to SDIG of Western Province, Nandana Munasinghe, SDIG crimes and STF M.R. Latheef, DIG special protection range Priyalal Dasanayake and Director of the Terrorism Investigation Division, Waruna Jayasundara and spoke to them over the phone.

Jayasundara said that he had also phoned all SDIGs in charge of provinces. The witness added that he had wanted to ensure that there would not be a leak, causing unnecessary problems in society.

“For example, the letter I sent to the Special Protection Range (SPR) was leaked to the media after the attacks.”

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