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Sajith reiterates need for resumption of capital punishment



By Saman Indrajith

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa told Parliament yesterday that the SJB was of the view that the capital punishment should be re-implemented.

 Participating in the second reading debate on the draft 20th Amendment, the Opposition leader said that drafting laws for implementing the death penalty was an urgent need.

 Justice Minister Ali Sabry asked him whether it was his personal standpoint or the position of his party.

 Opposition Leader Premadasa:

We do not have a personal standpoint. We have party standpoints.

 Justice Minister Sabry:

That is good now we know that your party’s position is to implement the death penalty.

Opposition Leader Premadasa:

I do not know why the Justice Minister opposes the re-implementation of death penalty against terrorists and drug dealers.

Justice Minister Sabry: That is fine because your own party men have gone before the Supreme Court against the reimplementation of the capital punishment.

 Opposition Leader Premadasa said that SJB stood for power sharing and not to concentrate power in one organ of the government.

 The Opposition Leader said that the U.S. President Abraham Lincoln had defined democracy as the government of the people, by the people, for the people which meant it was a social contract between the public and the rulers. Montesquieu argued that the tripartite system should be practised to maintain checks and balances among the executive, legislative, and judicial functions of the government in order to prevent one organ of the government dominating others. 

He said that the clauses of the draft 20th amendment to the Constitution would destroy the checks and balances that had been introduced earlier. “When the power to make appointments to top posts is vested in a single person the checks and balances suffer a setback. Those who protested against the executive presidency have forgotten their own protests. 

“Why do you fear the mechanism that was introduced under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution to bring about a just society?

 “But this is a struggle for power between the President and Prime Minister. But what is correct is to bring checks and balances between the two institutions.” 

He said that the 20th Amendment to the Constitution was not for the betterment of the public. “What we have got to do is to set up a National Security Council a new Health Act. The death penalty should be brought as regards those who engage in terrorist activities and those who engage in drug trafficking and that is the stance of the SJB”. 

“I request you to listen to the public,” the Opposition Leader said. “I request you to listen to Ven Elle Gunawansa Thera and Ven Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera, who associated with my late father, President Ranasinghe Premadasa closely.”  



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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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