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SJB MPS submit letter to Speaker claiming threat to silence them



By Saman Indrajith

Fifteen SJB MPs yesterday handed over a letter to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena asking him to ensure the MPs’ right of speech in Parliament.

The letter signed by 16 MPs was handed over to the Speaker at his office in the parliamentary complex yesterday.

The letter states that each MP has a right to express his or her opinions in the House as representatives of the people and Parliament is the place for MPs to exercise their right of expressing opinions.

“Following a recent statement made by MP Harin Fernando in Parliament the President has responded in public in a manner threatening the MP. The President is entitled to attend Parliament sessions and respond to the MP’s statement in the chamber.

It has been observed that the supporters of the President had reiterated that statement made by the president in state media and social media. These statements are not only a threat to the freedom of expression and also raise serious concerns about the safety of the MPs and democracy of the country. It is our belief that you as the speaker of the parliament is bound to ensure the MPs exercising their freedom of expression and to ensure the MPs protection and safety therefore we seek your intervention to ensure the protection of those rightss.”

The letter has been signed by MPs Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Dr Raitha Senaratne, JC Alawathuwala, Patali Champika Ranawaka, MHA Haleem, Vadivel Suresh, Nalin Bandara Jayamaha, Velu Kumar, Kings Nelson, Manusha Nanayakkara, K. Sujith Perera, S.M. Marikkar, Eran Wickremaratne, Tissa Attanayake, Rishad Bathiudeen and Harshana Rajakaruna.

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‘Those who fear exposure making a din over Easter Sunday carnage PCoI report – PM



Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said that some of those who fear that they will be held accountable under the law for the Easter Sunday attacks are now making a big noise over the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the carnage.

“They know that they will be exposed. That’s why they are making a din in the belief they could escape being taken to task under the law”, the premier told The Sunday Island.

Meanwhile, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has declared March 7 as ‘Black Sunday’ to demand justice to the victims of the attacks by bringing before the law those responsible for the carnage.

Church leaders have their congregations to be attired in black when they attend mass on Sunday. Church bells will toll at 8.45 am, the time of the near-simultaneous attacks, and special prayers will be offered for justice for the victims.

Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena said that the CID will begin investigations shortly to initiate the process of filing legal action against those responsible for the Easter Sunday attacks.

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Sri Lankan High Commission in India remains headless for 14 months




Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, March 5:

The Sri Lankan High Commission in India has remained without a Head of Mission for 14 months now.

Veteran civil servant Austin Fernando, who was posted here as the High Commissioner, went back home in January last year.

Former Minister Milinda Moragoda was appointed as the new High Commissioner with a Cabinet rank late last year, and India has accepted the appointment shortly thereafter.

But Moragoda is yet to take charge. It is not clear when he is planning to arrive in India.

Being a large neighbour and in view of excellent relations between the two countries, India is important for Sri Lanka.

Besides, as many as 92 New Delhi-based Ambassadors and High Commissioners are also concurrently accredited to Sri Lanka. Only 41 countries maintain their diplomatic missions in Colombo.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, direct flights between the two countries were suspended early last year. But Air India has been running special flights at regular intervals from Colombo to New Delhi and other cities to bring back Indian nationals stranded in Sri Lanka while on a holiday or a business trip.

India has also created air bubbles to allow flights to over 20 countries, including Bangladesh. But Sri Lanka is not one of them. Negotiations are said to be in progress to make this happen in due course of time.

Sources in Colombo said Moragoda is expected to leave later this month.



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Police drain irrigation well in search of woman’s head



by Norman Palihawadana

Police sleuths probing the brutal killing of a woman, whose decapitated body was found inside a travelling bag at Dam Street in Pettah on Monday, have begun draining an irrigation well at Badalkumbura on suspicion that the police officer may have dumped the victim’s head there to prevent it from being traced, a senior police official said.

“We are using motors to pump out the water from the well”, he said.

However, the head of the woman has not been found so far, he added.

Police investigators who searched the sub inspector’s house at Badalkumbura discovered the ashes of what they suspect was a travelling bag set on fire by him in the backyard.

The policeman was captured on CCTV footage dumping a travelling bag with the woman’s decapitated body at Dam Street. Investigations revealed that he had brought the body in a private Colombo-bound bus from Hanwella.

The victim was identified as a 30-year-old resident of Theppanawa in Kuruwita. Her remains have been sent for DNA testing, police said.

The body of the 53-year-old suspect police officer later committed suicide by hanging himself. A phial of poison was recovered from the scene where his body was found hanging from a tree.

Police said the sub inspector was attached to the police station at Buttala. He was married, but was believed to have been involved in a relationship with the woman whose body was found in the travelling bag.

Meanwhile, opposition parliamentarian Harin Fernando, responding to social media reports that the police officer served in his security detail at one time, said that at the time served as a chief minister and later a minister of the former government, he was given a seven-member Ministerial Security Division squad. The policeman concerned, then a sergeant, was also member of the security contingent.

Later, the security detail, including this policeman, was withdrawn. Thereafter, the policeman had served under two other MPs – Navin Dissanayake and Hesha Withanage. Thereafter, he left the MSD and rejoined the regular police force and was transferred to Buttala, the MP said.

“There was no other connection between us apart from the fact that he served in my security contingent for three years. He has not even voted for me. I contested from the Badulla district, while he was from the Moneragala district”, Fernando said.

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