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Release of Bathiudeen’s brother:



AG finds fault with CID

‘Suspect received 7 calls from Cinnamon Grand bomber’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, has asserted that the release of Riyaj Bathiudeen arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) on April 14, 2020 over his alleged involvement with those allegedly involved in the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks cannot be justified under any circumstances.

Riyaj is the younger brother of former Minister Rishard Bathiudeen, who is also under investigation in connection with the Easter Sunday attacks.

The AG expressed this view after meeting the DIG, CID Prasad Ranasinghe, CID Director Prasanna de Alwis, ASP Vijitha Perera and Chief Inspector Sugath Kumara at the AG’s Department, on Monday (12).

The AG called for a special meeting in the wake of allegations DIG Ranasinghe’s predecessor DIG Nuwan Wedasinghe authorised the suspect’s release under controversial circumstances.

During yesterday’s meeting, it transpired that both DIG Wedasinghe and SSP de Silva had failed in their duties as regards Riyaj Bathiudeen’s investigation.

AG’s Coordinating Officer State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne told The Island that the primary reason for Riyaj Bathiudeen’s arrest was his receiving seven telephone calls from Inshaf Ahamed, 36, who carried out the suicide attack on Cinnamon Grand Hotel. Ahamed owned the Wellampitiya copper factory, where explosive packed backpacks were alleged to have been made. Ahamed’s brother, Illham Ibrahim, 38, carried out attacks on Shangri-la along with Thawheed mastermind Zahran Hashim.

The AG found fault with the former DIG, CID and incumbent Director, CID for Riyaj Bathiudeen’s release on Oct 30.

The AG also noted serious lapses on the part of the CID in investigating certain aspects of the probe such as money laundering, terrorism financing, etc. Sources said that controversy surrounds a decision to hand over such an important investigation into clandestine financial transaction and related matters to an officer wholly incapable of handling it.

Out the 16 mobile phones used by Riyaj Bathiudeen, the police had been able to recover six and there was evidence to suggest that no serious been made by the CID to recover all of them, sources said.

The AG has issued written instructions to the police as regards the investigation asking for a comprehensive report within a month.

The AG called yesterday’s meeting in the wake of over 100 SLPP lawmakers requesting President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to re-arrest Riyaj.

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Majority of 300 luxury vehicles to be released



… some shipped in without opening LCs, EU wants restrictions abolished

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The majority of the luxury vehicles imported by special permit holders in contravention of the import ban imposed by the government in view of precarious economic situation caused by corona first wave are likely to be released subject to penalties.

Well informed sources said that those vehicles shipped in without even opening LCs would be released. Among the violators were many government servants.

Sources said that vehicles brought in without opening LCs were likely to be confiscated.

“We have categorised over 300 vehicles, including BMWs, Mercedes-Benz and Audis into two groups. Customs are now in the process of evaluating individual cases,” a high ranking state official said.

The government announced a ban on vehicle imports to arrest the depletion of foreign reserves. Sources acknowledged that at the time the vehicles

arrived in Sri Lanka the second corona wave hadn’t erupted. The situation was far worse now and further deteriorating, they said, adding that the Customs were being inundated with requests for releasing vehicles on sympathetic grounds.

Controversy surrounds the failure on the part of the government to strictly implement the import ban in view of the sharp drop in state revenue due to the pandemic.

Recently, the EU demanded that Sri Lanka immediately lift import ban or face the consequences. The EU issued the warning in talks with government representatives. Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena explained the circumstances that compelled the government to impose import restrictions. The EU sought an explanation as to when the ban would be lifted. The Foreign Ministry quoted Foreign Minister Gunawardena as having explained to the EU the challenges Sri Lanka economy was facing amidst the dwindling foreign currency reserve situation due to the significant reduction in remittances and tourism revenue induced by the COVID-19 global pandemic. The minister said that the import restrictions were being reviewed.

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Nearly 74,000 persons under home quarantine



Close to 74,000 people belonging to 27,974 families had been placed under home quarantine, Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said on Wednesday (25).

He said that the number of cases from the Minuwangoda and Peliyagoda clusters had increased to 17,436 with 458 persons had tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.

Two wards of the Kethumathi Maternity Hospital, Panadura were temporarily closed on Wednesday after two pregnant women admitted there tested COVID-19 positive.

The two women are from Atalugama, which has been declared an isolated area. During the last few days close to half of the COVID-19 patients detected in Colombo District are from Atalugama.

The two women have been sent to Neville Fernando Hospital, Malabe. The patients and staff in Wards 3 and 4 at the Kethumathi Maternity Hospital are now under quarantine. Their family members too have been asked to undergone self-quarantine.

The Police had arrested 61 persons who had violated quarantine laws within the 24 hours that ended at 8 am yesterday, Police spokesman, DIG Ajith Rohana said, adding that they had been arrested for not wearing masks or for not maintaining physical distancing. With those altogether 688 persons had been arrested for violating quarantine laws from October 30, he said.

Commissioner General of Prisons Thushara Upuldeniya said that apart from Welikada, the spread of COVID-19 had been controlled at other prisons. COVID-19 cases had been reported from six prisons, he added.

“We are conducting PCR tests and hope that the situation in Welikada too would be brought under control. Twenty four new cases were detected from prisons on November 24 and from October 04, we have identified 708 cases within the prison system.”

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Severity of impact of second wave on economy could be far worse than anticipated – CBSL



By Shyam Nuwan Ganewatte

The impact of the second wave of COVID-19 could be severer on the economic growth than previously anticipated, Director of Economic Research at the Central Bank Dr. Chandranath Amarasekara said yesterday (26).

Dr. Amarasekera said so responding to a query by The Island at a CBSL media briefing. The top official said that an assessment couldn’t be made yet as the second wave was continuing.

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