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Scandal-ridden PNB participates in major SLN-led operation involving int’l services

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‘ICE’, hashish worth Rs 600 mn seized

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB), which has been under investigation for dealing in narcotics, took part in a combined operation that led to the capture of a multi-day trawler carrying 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine (ICE) and about 80 kilos of Hashish yesterday (4).

The Navy took four persons identified as residents of Thoduwawa in the Chilaw area into custody. The Navy headquarters estimated the street value of the contraband at Rs 600 mn. The narcotic substance had been concealed in nine sacks.

An authoritative military official told The Island the coordinated operation had been carried out with the assistance of intelligence services and PNB. The Air Force, too, backed the operation. The Air Force headquarters spokesman said that air assets had been deployed for surveillance of suspicious vessels.

According to the Navy official, the suspects had received the consignment in the Arabian Sea and they had been under constant surveillance till the interception in the seas off Negombo.

Following the disclosure that some PNB personnel were in league with drug barons, the police headquarters replaced both the DIG in charge of the specialised unit and its Director.

Responding to another query, the official said that investigators would certainly inquire into possible link between those arrested in the seas off Negombo and the persons arrested off Dodanduwa, Hikkaduwa on 31 Dec. 2020.

The trawler intercepted off Dodanduwa carried 5 kg and 945g of ICE, 2 kg and 47g of heroin and 03g of Kerala cannabis. The Navy took four persons into custody. The suspects, aged from 22 to 29 were identified as residents of Matara, Pottuvil, Negombo and Maskeliya areas.

The Navy headquarters said that anti-smuggling operations were being carried out adhering to Covid-19 preventive guidelines and the suspects, the consignment of drugs and multi-day fishing trawler held during the Negombo operation had been handed over to the PNB, Colombo for further action.

Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, intervened after an attempt was made to suppress the alleged involvement of PNB personnel in a massive narcotics ring. The AG called the then Acting IGP C.D. Wickremaratne for a hurriedly-summoned meeting where in the presence of the Defence Secretary Maj. Gen. Kamal Gunaratne and the then Chief of National Intelligence (CNI) Maj. Gen. Jagath Alwis instructions were issued to conduct a thorough investigation.

Subsequent investigations revealed how a section of the PNB sold heroin stocks in its custody and maintained direct links with the underworld here as well as international drug dealers. The PNB scam came to light following the arrest by Minuwangoda police of the brother of an aide to Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga in June 2020. The Minister later claimed that the arrest had been made by the police following his personal intervention.



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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman

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Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand

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At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night

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President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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