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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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Avishka and Sadeera power Jaffna Kings to nine wicket win

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Half tons by Avishka Fernando and Sadeera Samarawickrema powered Jaffna Kings to a nine wicket win over Dambulla Aura in the 3rd match of the LPL2022  at MRICS Hambanthota on Wednesday (07)

Dambulla Aura 121/9 in 20 overs (Jordan Cox 43; Maheesh Theekshana 3/20, Vijayakanth Vijaskanth 3/24, James Fuller 2/16, Zaman Khan 1/28)

Jaffna Kings 122/1 in 15.4 overs (Avishka Fernando 51 , Sadeera Samarawickrema 62 not out; Noor Ahamed 1/28)

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Govt. says selling state assets only way to build reserves and prevent crippling shortages

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardena yesterday (06) said Sri Lanka wouldn’t be in a position to be part of the international trading system unless it boosted its foreign reserves by selling some of its assets. Gunawardena, who also holds media and transport portfolios said so at yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing.

Responding to a query about the government’s decision to divest vital national assets, the Minister said that if Sri Lanka did not shore up its reserves to the tune of over three billion dollars, international companies would not accept the letters of credit given by Sri Lankan banks.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the Finance Minister, has proposed privatising of several state enterprises including Sri Lanka Insurance and Sri Lanka Telecom.

“Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga sold a number of state owned enterprises. If we don’t increase our reserves, to over three billion USD soon, we will have problems importing fuel, and other essential items. Last week, Fitch again reduced our rating. No matter who governs Sri Lanka, they will all face the same problem. We need to build our reserves,” the Minister said.

Minister Gunawardane said that the need of the hour was to sell some assets and boost Sri Lanka’s reserves.

“China, India, Vietnam, and Malaysia are attracting a lot of investors. Only we have failed to do so, and we need to think why this is. Even our entrepreneurs are leaving for other countries. We need to change the way we think, if we want to attract investors to Sri Lanka,” he said.

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Ven Siridhamma, Mudalige granted bail; latter re-arrested

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Convenor of Bhikku Balamandalaya affiliated Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) Ven. Galwewa Siridhamma Thera leaving Court yesterday (06) after Kaduwela Magistrate Chanima Wijebandara granted him bail. The Thera was held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act for causing damages to public property during a protest opposite the Education Ministry, over three months back. The Magistrate ordered the Thera released after the police failed to identify the monk at an identification parade. However, IUSF Convenor Wasanatha Mudalige, who was also released by the Magistrate, after the police couldn’t identify him, was taken into custody in connection with some other case.

Pics by Kamal Bogoda

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