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Shani sees no solid evidence about foreign hand in Easter carnage

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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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Colombo Stars defeat Dambulla Aura by 9 runs at Sooriyawewa

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Colombo stars defeated Dambulla Aura by nine runs in the 5th game of LPL 2022 at MRICS Sooriyawewa .on Thursday.

Colombo Stars 165-9  in 20 overs (Niroshan Dickwella 62, Ravi Bopara 26, Dinesh Chandimal 29*; Lahiru Kumara 4-36, Sikkandar Raza 1-31, Tharindu Ratnayake 1-20, Lahiru Madushanaka 1-17)

Dambulla Aura 156/7 in 20 overs (Shevon Daniel 28, Jordan Cox 29, Tom Abell 33, Dasun Shanaka 31*; Suranga Lakmal 2-29, Dominic Drakes 2-35, Naveen-ul-Haq 1/22, Karim Janat 2-30)

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Govt. under pressure to tackle corruption in revenue inflow

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Amendments to Exchange Control Act contemplated

By Shamindra Ferdinando

State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya yesterday (07) said the government would introduce some amendments to the Exchange Control Act No 12 of 2017 as part of its response to the continuing financial crisis.

The SLFPer mentioned that amendments were necessary to restore the authority exercised by the Central Bank in respect of regulation of foreign exchange before the enactment of the Exchange Control Act No 12 of 2017, adding that the government has received several proposals in this regard.

The State Finance Minister said so when The Island sought a clarification as regards rebel SLPP accusations that the Exchange Control Act No 12 of 2017, enacted during the Yahapalana administration, allowed exporters to ‘park’ funds overseas. Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Wimal Weerawansa and Gevindu Cumaratunga had estimated the stashed amount at over USD 35 bn.

Siyambalapitiya acknowledged that the amendments that had been introduced in 2017 deprived the Central Bank of certain regulatory powers.

The Island

raised the issue at hand with Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, yesterday (07) consequent to his declaration that as much as USD 53.5 bn had been ‘parked’ overseas. This claim was made during the committee stage of the ongoing debate on the Appropriation Bill.

Minister Rajapakse said that Nanayakkara, Weerawansa and Cumaratunga, too, had referred to the same funds though he was able to obtain the latest figures.

Responding to another query, the former President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka emphasised that the situation had further deteriorated due to the Covid-19 pandemic, etc. According to him, the figures available with him dealt with the past 12 years.

The Justice Minister said that he discussed this with the Central Bank. Lawmaker Rajapakse said that in the absence of regulatory powers, the Central Bank hadn’t been able to make necessary interventions.

The Governor of the Central Bank, Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe, told The Island that the urgent need for amendments to the Exchange Control Act No 12 of 2017 had been taken up with the relevant authorities. Dr. Weerasinghe said that the ongoing controversy, over funds ‘parked’ overseas, gathered momentum against the backdrop of his recent speech, at the AGM of the Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association, where the inordinate delay, on the part of the exporters to convert export earnings to rupees, was highlighted.

In terms of current foreign exchange regulations, the exporters are required to convert 25 percent of their export proceeds, within a month, and all export proceeds within 180 days.

Having found fault with apparel, tea and rubber for the unsatisfactory conversion rate of forex earnings, Dr. Weerasinghe said that they were in the process of examining a selected group of exporters but realized the majority weren’t forthcoming with the required data.

The Justice Minister said that the entire revenue collection system was utterly corrupt, influenced and manipulated by interested parties. “The people are suffering because of continuing corruption at every level. Those responsible for revenue collection are part of the growing racket. They seem to be unstoppable,” he said.

Dr. Rajapakse said that there couldn’t be a better example than continuing the racket in security stickers on bottles of liquor to highlight the pathetic situation here. The Minister alleged that the racket, involving liquor manufacturers and some excise officials, deprived the Treasury a massive amount in revenue. In spite of frequent media exposure, the racket continued unabated, Dr. Rajapakse said, adding that those who defended the manufacturer of the security sticker were all part of the scam.

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Criminal waste at State Hospital revealed

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Chairman, Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital, Professor Shanthilal Devapriya Jayaratne responds to probing questions from COPE members (Pic courtesy parliament)

Surgical items thrown away amidst shortages

The Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) has called for a comprehensive report from Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital regarding hiring of a private surveyor, way back in 2015 although the Surveyor General’s Department had completed the task.

The COPE, chaired by Prof. Ranjith Bandara, on 06 Dec, asked the Legal Officer of the hospital to provide a list of persons responsible for hiring the private surveyor.

During the inquiry, several irregularities were exposed, according to parliamentary sources. The COPE raised the issue of 80% of surgical items being discarded due to the expiration of shelf life. The hospital management said that they had received a report compiled, following an inquiry. Those items had been procured at a cost of Rs 4.2 mn for the neurosurgical unit of the hospital.

Health Secretary Dr. Asela Gunawardena was to submit a comprehensive report in this regard within two weeks.

The COPE also called for reports on spending Rs 1.8 mn on a software package and spending Rs 19.7 for scanning and uploading documents in 2019.

Lawmakers also discussed how payments had been made for unfinished work undertaken by various parties. (SF)

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