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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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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman




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




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



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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