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Police chasing some vital leads into Dutch monk’s death to ‘clear some doubts’

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by Suresh Perera

Police investigators are pursuing some important leads to figure out the circumstances which led to the death of the Dutch monk at the Dodanduwa Polgasduwa forest monastery, a high-ranking police official in the region said on Friday.

“Though preliminary investigations suggest the possibility of suicide, we are working on some vital clues to clear some doubts that have emerged”, says Senior DIG Rohan Silva in charge of the Southern province.

“We are probing the case with an open mind”, he noted, while declining to divulge more information on the leads police sleuths are chasing as it will hamper ongoing investigations.

The body of Ven. Olande Jinawansa thera was found floating in the Ratgama lagoon on December 8. At the time the body was fished out, two stones were found tied to the 59-year-old monk’s legs.

The police and the STF searched the island, where the monastery is situated, plus an adjoining island, but nothing suspicious was found, the senior police official said.

Asked about social media reports that the monk had opposed the construction of a hotel in a near-by island as it disturbed the serenity of the monastery, and this may have led to his untimely death, he explained that there was no such hotel being built in the locality.

The Dutch monk was, however, not in favor of a Dharma Salawa that was being built within the precincts of the monastery as he believed there was no need for such a facility as devotees in large numbers did not visit the Aramaya, the senior DIG Silva said.

“He had protested that the din caused by the construction disturbed the meditating monks. Apart from that, there was no hotel being built in the vicinity for the bhikku to have opposed it”, he added.

Earlier, there was a move to build a bridge to link the island but the idea was dropped as it didn’t find favor with the monks at the monastery, he further said.

“We also inspected the monk’s kutiya (small hut), where he meditated, but there was nothing amiss”, he continued.

The Government Analyst visited the scene and also examined the knots on the rope with which the stones were found tied to the monk’s legs.

The autopsy revealed that there was no water or sand in the prelate’s lungs, which indicated that he had been alive at the time he was in the lagoon. This raised the possibility of the monk taking his own life, he said.

An open verdict was returned at the magisterial inquiry into his death.

Senior DIG Silva said that body parts have been sent to the Government Analyst for examination to ascertain, amongst other factors, whether the monk was poisoned.

He said the Dutch monk, who settled in Sri Lanka 12 years ago, was basically a loner. He kept to himself and went on pindapatha alone. As a lover of animals, he set aside a part of the alms he received to feed them. He even reared a young injured animal in his Kutiya.

Asked whether any arrests have been made or are imminent, the senior police official replied, “it depends on the outcome of the continuing investigations. We need to clear some existing doubts surrounding the prelate’s death”.

Meanwhile, a close associate, who now lives in New Zealand, said the Dutch monk was residing in northern Thailand and left for Sri Lanka in 2008.

“I was very close to Ven. Tone Jinawamso thera, as he was known there”, he said.

Requesting anonymity, he told The Sunday Island from Auckland that as a well established monk, who had even translated a Thai Buddhist publication into English, he didn’t see any reason why the prelate should commit suicide.

“As a bhikku very close to me, I can assure you that he was content with the simple, uncomplicated life he led and would have never contemplated suicide”, he asserted.

The Dutch monk’s death is suspicious, he claimed. “The police should get to the bottom of it”.



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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?

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… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.

 

 

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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others

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The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.

 

 

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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area

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Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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