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PCoI report on Easter Sunday carnage: AG won’t be given ‘sensitive’ volumes

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GL admits flaws , appreciates recommendations

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Presidential Secretariat has declined to release 22 volumes (each containing about 600 pages) of proceedings to Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, on the advice of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) that probed the 2019 Easter Sunday carnage.

Authoritative sources told The Island that of the 87 volumes, the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (2) had sent only 65 to the AG. The Attorney General has been informed that the PCoI is of the opinion that 22 volumes shouldn’t be disclosed due to the sensitive nature of the information therein relating to national security.

The Attorney General received the final volume of the report from the PCoI last week.

There were shortcomings in the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) report on the Easter Sunday carnage in 2019, but it couldn’t be discarded, Education Minister and SLPP Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris told the media on Monday (1).

 Fielding questions at the weekly media briefing at Battaramulla, Prof. Peiris acknowledged the flaws while emphasising the need to go ahead with the judicial proceedings.

 Prof. Peiris said that the PCoI made far reaching recommendations that had to be dealt by the Office of the President (executive), legislature and the judiciary. In addition to them, there were specific recommendations to the Attorney General’s Department and the CIABOC (Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption).

 The minister stressed that deficiencies in the P CoI report certainly made a valuable contribution towards helping the government to ascertain the gruesome truth.

Pressed by the media for an explanation regarding the appointment of a six-member ministerial committee to deal with the P CoI report, Prof. Peiris said that the government needed to be guided by some guidelines. “The P CoI report didn’t in any way reflect the government stand. It is an independent body. Therefore, the government needs to agree on a formula in this regard. The ministerial committee will make recommendations and advice the government how to proceed.”

 Prof. Peiris made reference to some ‘clouded’ recommendations among some far reaching ones.

 Prof. Peiris dismissed the notion that the P CoI had recommended specific actions against various persons and organizations named in the report. The P CoI lacked such power; Prof. Peiris explained that the Attorney General would move court on behalf of the government. The findings made by the P CoI would be used in the process, Prof. Peiris said. The minister assured the public the government wouldn’t interfere in the investigations.

  The SLPP Chairman rejected accusations that the government exploited the P CoI report to undermine coalition partner SLFP. Such criticism was unfair as the government had nothing to do with the setting up of the P CoI in the run-up to the Nov 2019 presidential election.

 The then President and SLFP leader Maithripla Sirisena formed the P CoI close on the heels of Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) that probed the Easter Sunday carnage handing over its report in the third week of Oct 2019.

 Prof. Peiris appreciated the recommendations made in respect of the education sector. The Minister said that the failure to ensure strict controls on madrasas could cause a catastrophe.

 One-time External Affairs Minister said that the government wanted to ensure no holds barred investigation into the worst atrocity since the conclusion of the war in May 2009. The ministerial committee would facilitate the government initiative, the minister said, urging the Opposition not to politicize the issue at hand.

 Responding to another query, Prof. Peiris said that the SLPP would make its position clear on the P CoI report after having studied it. The Minister criticized efforts made by some persons with vested interests to condemn the report. Those who had been affected by P CoI’s findings and recommendations were likely to attack it, the minister said. The public wouldn’t be deceived by such criticism, the minister said, underscoring the fact that Easter Sunday carnage could have been thwarted if the previous government responded sensibly to specific intelligence received from India. Unfortunately, they played ‘pandu’ with national security at the expense of the public.

 Nearly 270 persons perished in near simultaneous attacks. Approximately 500 others received injuries and quite a number of  them maimed for life.

 

 



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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