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Thalatha denies taking any bets on sending Premalal to gallows

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By Saman Indrajith

Ratnapura District SJB MP Thalatha Atukorale yesterday told Parliament that she never had any intention of becoming a tea plucker and she never would be.

Raising a privilege issue, MP Atukorale said that she was from landed gentry and her family members had been land-owning planters for more than 100 years.

“MP Premalal Jayasekera stated in this House that I had once said I would become a tea plucker if our government could not have him sentenced to death. That is not true. I never wanted to be a tea plucker and I will never go down to that level. I did not make such a wager. MP Jayasekera is a death row convict and I can understand his mindset. Under such mindset he can make statements to evoke public sympathy, but he must not be permitted to breach the privileges of other MPs.”

“Jayasekara also accused me of being involved in the death of one of his relatives in 2001. He has continuously served in this Parliament since 2001. Until 2014, he was a government MP. I have been an MP since 2004. Rather than hurling baseless allegations hiding behind MP’s privileges, why didn’t he push to have his government investigate these allegations and take legal action?”

The SJB MP said that Jayasekara was coming out with the allegations some 20 years later in an attempt to earn sympathy. 

MP Atukorale also scoffed at claims made by the SLPP MP that as the Justice Minister of the yahapalana government, she had once stated that she would resign and go pluck tea leaves if she failed to have him sentenced to death. 

“I became Justice Minister on August 25, 2017. At this time, this case was still ongoing. The honourable judges and officers of the Attorney General’s Department will bear witness that I never brought up this case with them at any time.”

Atukorale said that the death sentence on Jayasekara had been handed down after recording evidence from 42 witnesses. 

She said her only involvement in the case was referring lawyers to act as counsel to watch the interests of the aggrieved party since the victim was someone known to her.



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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