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President Rajapaksa had no hand in revoking detention of Riyaj- Counsel



Easter carnage

By Chitra Weerarathne

President’s Counsel Sanjeewa Jayawardena, yesterday, told the Court of Appeal that the President had never had any hand in revoking any detention order issued against Riyaj Bathiudeen, the brother of Rishad Bathiudeen.

At the outset Faiz Mustapha PC, who appeared for the petitioner Riyaj Bathiudeen told the Court of Appeal that the petitioner had not been involved in terrorist activity, according to investigation reports of recent times. Petitioner was entitled to resist wrongful arrest. It was not a case of hiding. It was avoiding wrongful arrest. There was no responsible suspicion for the arrest of Riyaj. There was no basis to arrest him originally or now. The only basis was a telephone conversation with an Islamic extremist who had attempted to bomb the Cinnamon Grand Hotel. The calls had been business oriented and nothing else. The mobile phone used by Riyaj, had been linked to so many other phones on miscellaneous deals.

Riyaj had received telephone calls on the export of copper, which was a business deal. No basis at all for the arrest of Riyaj Bathiudeen. Attempts should not be made to arrest Riyaj on incomplete investigations, the Counsel said.

Sanjeewa Jayawardena, PC appeared for the intervention against the writ application by Riyaj Bathiudeen. One is by the Reverend Father Lawrence Ramanayke and the other by another concerned party counsel.

The President had assured that at no time he had said that he had a hand in the revoking of any detention order against Riyaj, Counsel explained. Riyaj Bathiudeen has had several phone calls with the brother of the person who attempted to bomb the Hotel, in 2019. The counsel said hundred members of Parliament in September 2020 complained to the President that the Investigations against Riyaj had not been properly conducted. They said any detention order against him should not be revoked. The security of the People was vital.

There were photographs of Riyaj sitting together with Zahran, the NTJ Leader, counsel added.

The Additional Solicitor General Sarath Jayamanna, PC, told the Court of Appeal that on September 19, 2020, Riyaj had withdrawn his fundamental rights violation petition against state officials. On September 22, Riyaj withdrew his Habeas Corpus application against state officials. Hence no litigation remained over any type of harassment. The bombings were the most deadly act committed on April 21, 2019, which killed so many persons, all over the country. When evidence surfaced people had to be arrested, the ASG said.

The ASG explained that the family had acquired assets by money laundering. The accounts of Riyaj and his wife were huge and unbelievable.

The arrest would be completed at the end of the on-going investigation. The writ application, at this stage was premature, he added. The Attorney General had only ordered that investigations be conducted where necessary, ASG Jayamanne added.

Riyaj Bathiudeen had filed a writ application in the Court of Appeal, requesting the Court to prevent his likely arrest by the CID. He had said it was baseless to arrest him. Rev. Father Lawrence Ramanayake, of ‘Sethsevana’ Archbishop’s House, Borella, Colombo had filed an Intervention, objecting to the writ application by Riyaj Bathiudeen. The priest has said that Riyaj was a suspect as regards the Easter Sunday attacks of April 21, 2019. Those suicide blasts killed 256 persons and injured 500 others.

Sanjeewa Jayawardena, PC, appeared with Rukshan Senadheera and Maneesha Dissanayake, instructed by Sanjay Fonseka for the intervenient.

The bench comprised Justice Mahinda Samayawardene and Justice Arjuna Obeysekera. The Court of Appeal reserved the order on whether to issue notice on the respondent police officers and to grant interim relief for Riyaj Bathiudeen for October 21, 2020.

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Foreign force behind Easter Sunday attacks – Sirisena



By Rathindra Kuruwita

A powerful foreign country or an agency was behind the Easter Sunday bombings and the National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zaharan Hashim, former President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday told the PCoI investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

“I also do not believe that Zaharan was the leader of that organisation. Because a leader would never have initiated a suicide attack and died during the first wave,” Sirisena said.

The former President also said that Islamic extremism had spread rapidly in the country due to the support extremists received from Muslim politicians.

Sirisena also said that the military and intelligence officials had been demoralised by harassment they suffered during the yahaalanaya administration. This was the reason why local institutions failed to uncover NTJ’s plans. “But this incident is a conspiracy because it appeared that Zaharan was being manipulated by some foreign hand,” the former President said.

The President further said that during the previous administration, UNPers had headed the Ministry of Law and Order for several years that they had significantly weakened the intelligence services. Although he had taken the Ministry of law and Order in the last stages of the yahapalana government, he had not been able to undo the damage the UNP had done in four years, the witness said.

Commissioner: “Did you know that during your tenure as President, Muslim MPs and ministers were forcible acquiring land in Vanni and Batticaloa and they were constructing Muslim villages and mosques there?”

Sirisena: “Some ministers used their political power to clear forests and cultivate lands. Some ministers were angry with me when I tried to stop them. I tried hard to control those actions. But it was difficult for me to deal with that situation. Fundamentalism rose due to the protection given by Muslim political leaders. Certain political parties are based on religion, race and language. This is disastrous. I tried to stop these people but my decisions were not implemented.”



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Bathiudeen granted bail



Former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen was released on bail by the Fort Magistrate’s Court yesterday. Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage released Bathiudeen on cash bail of Rs. 100,000 with two sureties of one million rupees each.

The Magistrate also imposed a travel ban on Bathiudeen and said that the guarantors should be his close relatives.

The Magistrate granted bail to the MP considering the risk of him contracting COVID-19 as two inmates in cells next to his had recently tested positive for coronavirus.

Bathiudeen was remanded in connection with alleged misappropriation of public funds during the last presidential election to transport voters.

The former minister has been accused of misusing 222 buses owned by the SLTB for transporting internally displaced persons from Puttalam to polling stations in Silavathurai, Mannar during the 2019 Presidential Election. Two others, Mohamed Yaseen Samsudeen and Alagarathnam Manoranjan face the same charges.

They have allegedly violated Article 82(1) of Presidential Elections Act, No. 15 of 1981 by misappropriating public funds amounting to Rs. 9.5 million.

Bathiudeen was arrested at an apartment complex at Ebenezer Place in Dehiwala in the early hours of October 19. He was then produced before the court and placed under remand custody. His bail application was also rejected by the magistrate’s court on several occasions



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Zahran supported Sirisena and SLMC at 2015 elections, Hizbullah tells PCoI



By Rathindra Kuruwita

National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ) and its leader Zahran Hashim supported Former President Maithripala Sirisena and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) at the 2015 elections, former Eastern Province Governor M.L.A.M Hizbullah, on Tuesday night, told the PCoI probing the Easter Sunday attacks.

Hizbullah was giving evidence before the PCoI for the second day.

“Zahran supported the SLMC at the 2015 general election. After the UNP-led coalition won the election, NTJ members fought with our supporters. Several people were injured during the clash, including Zahran’s brother. SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem visited Zahran’s brother at the hospital.”

The witness also submitted a footage of a demonstration opposite NTJ Headquarters in Kattankudy. It contained a speech by Zahran, who expressed his dismay after Sirisena appointed Hizbullah as a national list MP.

“In this video, Zahran clearly says he supported Maithripala Sirisena at the 2015 presidential election. Zahran also says he sent a fax to the former President, urging him not to appoint me to Parliament.”

However, it was earlier revealed that in 2015, representatives of five recognised political parties, including the UPFA and the UNP, had signed agreements with Zahran in the run-up to the 2015 general election. Representatives of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC,) Democratic Party, UNP, UPFA and National Front for Good Governance (NFGG), too, had signed agreements with Zahran in exchange for NTJ support, the Commission was told.

Hizbullah, on Monday, admitted that his party had also signed an agreement with the NTJ.

“Zahran told social media that he would support any politician who agreed to his proposals. All the parties joined him. I also went along.”

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