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Shani sees no solid evidence about foreign hand in Easter carnage



By Rathindra Kuruwita

The CID had not received concrete evidence of a foreign hand behind the Easter Sunday bombings until he was removed from the CID in November 2019, former CID Director Shani Abeysekera on Monday night told the PCoI investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

Abeysekera, who is under remand custody, and is currently receiving treatment at Ward 42 of the National Hospital, following a heart attack, testified via Skype. He had earlier contracted COVID-19.

Abeysekera is in remand custody for allegedly fabricating evidence against former DIG Vass Gunawardena.

The Attorney General’s Department officials questioned him first on the killing of two policemen at a road block in Vavunativu and then asked him about the attacks on Mawanella Buddha statues. Abeysekera said that the police had realized the killing of two policemen in Vavunativu had been carried out by the Islamists only after the Easter Sunday attacks.

Abeysekera: “The act of vandalising the Buddha statues took place on 23 December 2018. The investigation was handed over to CID CI Janaka Marasinghe and others. I also went to Mawanella on 26 December.

The Kegalle police had arrested three suspects but failed to hab two brothers, Sadiq and Shaheed Abdul-Haq, who were the main suspects.”

Senior State Counsel: “Did you go to Mannar on 15 January 2019 for an official purpose?

Abeysekera: “A reliable informant told us that Sadiq and Shaheed were about to leave the country by boat from Mannar. So, I went there on 15 January but information was false. But I asked the informant to be vigilant.”

Senior State Counsel: “The following day, i.e. 16 January, there was a detection of explosives in a Jihadist training camp at Wanathawilluwa?”

Abeysekara: “Yes, Marasinghe and his team had made that detection. After I was told that there were explosives, I told them not to search after dark. Former SDIG of CID was then informed and through him STF was deployed there.”

The AG’s Department representative then told Abeysekara that the CID had informed the court of the detection of explosives and the arrest of four suspects only on 31 January 2019, two weeks after the detection.

Abeysekara told the PCoI that there had been a delay but he had no idea why Marasinghe had taken two weeks to inform the court. Around 8,000 investigations were being carried out by the CID at the time and he was not able to oversee all of them.

A Commissioner: “Then who is responsible?

Abeysekara: “CI Marasinghe was in charge of the investigation. So, he is responsible.”

A Commissioner: “There are senior officers above Marasinghe. Don’t they also have a responsibility?”

Abeysekara: “They do have.”

Senior State Counsel: “Did you ever tell Marasinghe not to take notes of the Mawanella  investigation?”

Abeysekara: “No, but even if I had done so, he should not have don so. Without notes, how can he prove that he did an investigation? “

A commissioner then asked Abeysekara whether he had received information about a foreign involvement in the Easter Sunday attacks while he was serving in the CID.

Abeysekara said that on certain occasions there had been some information hinting at a foreign involvement. However nothing concrete came up while he was heading the CID, the witness said.

Abeysekara: “Even foreign investigators were here. They couldn’t uncover anything either. Nothing concrete emerged. I don’t know if new evidence has surfaced now.”

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SLFP: PCoI has exceeded its mandate and failed to address critical issues



By Rathindra Kuruwita

President Maithripala Sirisena appointed the PCoI on Easter Sunday Attacks to identify local and international forces behind the attacks, establish the motives of those groups and to punish those who were directly and indirectly responsible for the attacks, but those issues had not been addressed by the PCoI’s final report, the SLFP said yesterday.

 SLFP General Secretary, Dayasiri Jayasekera said that the party’s Executive Committee had discussed the report in depth on Thursday and decided that the Commission had not addressed the issues it had been appointed to probe.

On the other hand, some of its recommendations have gone beyond its mandate.

Issuing a press release, the SLFP said that while the PCoI observed that former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had been soft on Islamic extremism and his government had not taken active steps in combating extremism, however, the PCoI had treated Wickremesinghe with kid gloves while taking a tough stance on former President Maithripala Sirisena.

 “The former President took over the Ministry of Law and Order on 30 October 2018, i.e. only five months and twenty days before the attacks. None of those who held the post before have been accused of anything. The report also focuses little on those who planned the attacks, those who financed the attacks and those who protected the attackers. Moreover, although there is evidence to prove that the weapons found in Muslim mosques after the attacks had been brought in by ships; the report had not investigated it in-depth,” the SLFP said.

 The party also said Pulastini Rajendran alias Sara Jasmine, the wife of Mohommadu Hastun, a suicide bomber, had fled to India sometime after the attacks. However, the Commission had not only paid any attention to it but also had ignored what could have been found.

 “The mandate set by President Sirisena says to look at current or former state officials who are directly or indirectly linked to these incidents. There is no mandate for the Commission to look into whether the head of the state or ministers have fulfilled their constitutional duties. Thus, the recommendations on the former President are beyond the PCoI’s mandate. The pages 292 and 293 of the report state that President Sirisena had instructed the Police to arrest NTJ leader Zahran Hashim at the National Security Council. However, they also insist that the former President had not carried out its duties and responsibilities. Page 296 says that the former President not appointing an acting Defence Minister when he left for India and Singapore was a violation of the Constitution. However, in another place the Commissioners say that making such appointments is at the President’s discretion,” the SLFP said in a press release.

 The SLFP also states that the former President had carried out his duties and the report has ample evidence of it. Thus, there is no way that criminal proceedings can be instituted against him.

 “The concept that criminal proceedings can be instituted against a President for not carrying out some duty sets a bad precedent and is a slight to the power given to the President by the Constitution. The US and New Zealand security agencies had received information about 9/11 and the Christchurch shootings but the heads of the states were not charged. We vehemently refuse the allegations against the former President and reject many of the other recommendations too.”

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Dubai haven for majority of Lankan fugitives with INTERPOL red notices



By Pradeep Prasanna Samarakoon

Police had obtained INTERPOL Red Notices against 24 drug traffickers hiding overseas, police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said.

In addition, DIG Rohana said INTERPOL blue notices had been issued for 87 wanted criminals who were currently residing overseas.

The DIG said a majority of the suspects were reported to be hiding in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, while some were in neighbouring India and European countries.

The country’s law enforcement agencies had seized over 1,610 kilos of heroin in 2020 alone, the DIG noted, adding that last year 33,125 suspects had been arrested for possessing heroin and 1,400 others for having in their possession synthetic drugs.

About 61,550 persons had been arrested for narcotic-related offences, in 2020, said the Police Spokesperson, noting that intelligence reports had suggested there was a shortage of heroin in the local drug market due to continuous raids carried out by law enforcement authorities. That had led to a rise in the use of synthetic drugs, such as ICE, he added.

INTERPOL assistance had been sought to extradite 129 Lankans wanted for various crimes, he said.

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Organise State Vesak festival at Nagadeepa with those of other religions- PM 



Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa who is also the Minister of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs has instructed authorities to hold this year’s State Vesak Festival at the Nagadeepa Raja Maha Viharaya in Jaffna focusing on the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

The Prime Minister at a meeting held at Temple Trees on Thursday evening had given instructions to the Secretary to the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Cultural and Religious Affairs Prof Kapila Gunawardena to organize the State Vesak Festival together with those following other religions.

Accordingly, the Departments of Hindu, Christian and Muslim Affairs under the Ministry of Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs, will join in the efforts to organize the event.

Among those present were Sanghanayake of the Northern Province Chief Incumbent of the Nagadeepa Vihara Ven Dr. Dharmakeerthi Sri Navadagala Padaumakitthi Nayaka Thera, Sanghanayake of the Eastern and Thamankaduwa Ven Munhene Mettharama thera, Sanghanayake of the Matara-Hambantota districts Adrahere Kassapa Nayaka thera, State Minister Vidura Wickramanayake, MP Suren Raghawan and officials of the Ministry of Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs.



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