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Sirisena says officials who did not take action to prevent Easter attacks responsible for carnage



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Easter Sunday attacks could have been prevented if necessary action had been taken, and officials who did not do so should be held responsible for the carnage, former President Maithripala Sirisena said on Wednesday night, testifying before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.  

The commissioners asked the former President about the release of two of the four suspects, arrested during the CID raid on Wanathawilluwa Jihadist training camp on 16 January, 2019.

Sirisena said that the person who recommended the release of the suspects should be held responsible. The Commissioners informed him that the documents releasing them had been signed by him.

Sirisena said that he would sign a large number of documents brought to him by the CID and the Ministry of Defence and that it was not possible to check each one individually.

The Attorney General’s Department representative who led the evidence asked the witness whether it was not the responsibility of the Head of State to ensure the safety of the citizens. The former President said terrorist attacks took place in many countries of the world and that the incumbent was not held responsible for failure to prevent all of them.

The Commissioners then asked the witness about a report submitted by the State Intelligence Service (SIS) on 23 October, 2018 about 120 persons who propagated Islamic State (IS) ideology.

Sirisena said the relevant document had been discussed at the National Security Council (NSC) meetings and necessary instructions given. The Minister of Law and Order had attended the NSC meetings and they should have acted on the instructions given, the witness said.

The Attorney General’s Department representative then asked the witness whether he should not take responsibility for failure to prevent incidents such as damaging of the Buddha statues in Mawanella, in December 2018, attack on the Coordinating Secretary of former Minister Kabir Hashim and the explosion of a motorcycle bomb in the Kattankudy area on 16 April, 2019, as he was the minister of law and order at that time.

Sirisena said such incidents should have been investigated by the local Police and other relevant investigating agencies. It was not necessary to seek the advice of the President or the NSC to deal with such matters, he added.

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SL gets Rs 452 mn for saving ill-fated tanker: Rs. 3.4 bn asked for



By Ifham Nizam and Rathindra Kuruwita

The Marine Enviro-nment Protection Authority (MEPA) yesterday received Rs. 452 million from London for having saved MT New Diamond, a super oil tanker that caught fire in the Sri Lanka’s territorial waters last year.

MEPA General Manager, Dr. P. B. Terney Pradeep Kumara told The Island that Rs. 442 million had come for the services rendered by the Sri Lanka Navy, MEPA and Rs. 10 million by way of a fine imposed on the Ship’s Captain.

However, Sri Lanka has to receive a much larger amount for the damage caused to the marine environment, Dr. Kumara said. Following the incident, Sri Lankan authorities filed charges against the Captain of the ill-fated vessel and made a claim for $2.4 million from the ship’s owners for the firefighting and pollution prevention efforts.

Twenty experts from the Universities of Moratuwa, Ruhuna and Sri Jayewardenepura submitted their recommendations as regards the damage to the environment, to the Attorney General. Based on the report, the Attorney General’s Department had asked for Rs. 3.4 billion (around USD 19 million) as compensation for environmental damage, the Coordinating Officer for the Attorney General, state counsel Nishara Jayaratne said.

Soon they would have discussions with the lawyers of the shipping agent concerned on compensation for environmental damage caused, she said.

Dr. Kumara, who is the former Head of the Department of Oceanography/Marine Geology of the Ruhuna University, said that the incident had caused deaths among marine species due to spillage of some toxic fuel from the vessel.

The MT New Diamond crude oil tanker was transporting 270,000 MT oil from the port of Meena Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Port of Paradip in India when a fire broke out in its engine room as the vessel was passing the eastern seas of Sri Lanka on September 3, 2020.

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PSC on gender equality meets for the first time



State Minister, Fernandopulle flanked by two other PSC members

Special attention on microfinance

The Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to further gender equality, to investigate instances of discrimination against women and to present recommendations to Parliament, focused on microfinance loans that are currently affecting a large number of women in Sri Lanka, when they met for the first time in Parliament recently.

The meeting was chaired by the State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID-19 Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle.

It was also revealed that the Cabinet had approved the re-establishment of an institution to regulate Microfinance loans in Sri Lanka.

The MPs also discussed the role of the Select Committee. They decided that the primary role of the Committee should be to investigate women’s grievances and all forms of discrimination based on gender, including workplace violence.

Another task before this committee is to examine and review laws that can be used to enhance gender equality, encourage relevant ministries and authorities to formulate plans to further gender equality and to allocate financial resources.

The Committee will also try to encourage greater women’s representation in decision-making bodies at the national and provincial levels as well as in government, civil society and the private sector.

MPs Rohini Kaviratne, (Dr.) Harini Amarasuriya, M. Udayakumar, S. Sritharan, Rohana Bandara and the Secretary to the Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of the Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera were also present at the meeting.



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A/L Examination from October 04 to 30



The 2021 GCE Advanced Level examination would be held from October 4 to 30, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday addressing the media at his Ministry.

Minister Peiris said the examination was earlier scheduled to be held in August.

The Grade 5 scholarship examination would be held on October 03 and the 2021 GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) examination in the last week of January 2022, the Minister said.

“Usually, schools are open for academic activities for around 200 days a year. But in 2020, schools were open for about 150 days. It was around 130 days in the Western Province. We were not able to fill this gap with online classes due to lack of internet facilities in many parts of the country,” he said.

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