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Turkish terror group’s links to Easter Sunday carnage under investigation



By Shamindra Ferdinando

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, in terms of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) report on the 2019 Easter Sunday carnage has issued specific instructions to the Police/Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and other relevant authorities to expedite investigations, SLPP Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday.

Addressing the regular SLPP briefing at the Waters Edge, Prof. Peiris, who is also the Education Minister said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa intervened on behalf of the government whereas the Attorney General proceeded with own actions.

Prof. Peiris said that the entire set of PCoI volumes was handed over to the AG recently to enable him to proceed. The SLPP Chairman emphasized the pivotal importance in taking tangible measures to secure the arrest of those suspects living abroad.

Prof. Peiris said that as part of the overall investigations law enforcement authorities had been instructed to probe the alleged FETO (Fetullah Terrorist Organization aka the Gulen movement) links to the Easter Sunday carnage. Prof. Peiris explained that the proscribed Turkish organization had provided funding to some persons named in the report and a thorough inquiry was called into foreign involvement in the attacks.

The PCoI revealed that the previous government had turned a blind eye to information provided by Turkey regarding FETO activities in Sri Lanka. FETO leader Gulen has secured US protection.

Reiterating the government’s commitment to bring Easter Sunday perpetrators before court, Prof Peiris revealed the arrest of 99 persons in connection with the attacks and also efforts to secure the extradition of 35 others. However, the Minister didn’t explain the status of the extradition process pertaining to those 35 living overseas.

Prof Peiris said that the 36 separate investigations into various aspects of the Easter Sunday attacks had been completed. The police were directed to hand over the relevant files without delay, the minister said.

Appreciating the services rendered by the PCoI, Minister Peiris said that specific information hitherto not available were now with authorities and quite useful in the investigations.

The former top law academic also discussed the Wanathavilluwa detection made by the CID in the run up to the Easter Sunday attacks. Making reference to three wounded persons in custody, Prof. Peiris said that the police were directed to conduct thorough investigations into their alleged involvement.

Archbishop of Colombo Malclom Cardinal Ranjith moved Court of Appeal regarding the recovery of swords and daggers in the wake of the Easter Sunday attacks. The SLPP spokesperson said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa issued specific instructions as regards the detection of some 1,440 swords and daggers. The academic explained the judiciary addressing the Easter Sunday issues while President Gotabaya Rajapaksa issued directives to expedite the overall process.

Prof. Peiris censured the previous government over allowing extremist elements a free hand. The minister pointed out how foreign preachers were allowed in without any scrutiny. Dismissing Opposition and civil society criticism of planned prohibition of burqa, Prof Peiris emphasized the right and the responsibility on the part of the government to take tangible measures to neutralize the threat.

Blaming the previous government for issuing visa on arrival to dangerous foreign elements, Prof Peiris explained how irresponsible and foolish conduct of the previous administration created an environment for extremists to destroy Buddha statues at Mawanella. If the government of the day properly inquired into Mawanella incidents, including the attempt to kill the then Minister Kabir Hashim’s coordinating secretary, the Easter Sunday carnage could have been averted, the minister said.

Minister Peiris also questioned the rationale in one-time Western Province Governor Azath Salley’s declaration that his community wouldn’t care about laws of the country and would abide by Muslims law. The minister said that no one would be able to take such a stand under any circumstances.

Commenting on PCoI recommendations and findings, Prof. Peiris said that 54 persons living abroad were categorized as wanted in connection with the Easter Sunday investigations. Of them, 50 had been already extradited and were under investigations whereas actions were being taken to bring down the remaining four in foreign custody.

Minister Peiris said that the government would soon request Australia to inquire into some persons who had been arrested in Qatar in Oct 2020 and subsequently sent Down Under.

According to Minister Peiris, the PCoI called for the establishment of a separate unit at the AG’s Department to handle terrorism cases, bring in amendments or introduce new laws in parliament as regards foreign funding matters, extradition and money laundering et al, setting up a National Intelligence Organization by way of a parliamentary act, restrictions on setting up of private organizations by lawmakers and special court to hear Easter Sunday case and any other case related to it.

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Veteran singer and musician Professor Sanath Nandasiri passed away at the age of 81




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Overtime gravy train for public sector back



Govt. MPs make contradictory statements on state of economy

By Shamindra Ferdinando

UNP National List MP Wajira Abeywardena on Sunday (26) disclosed the issuance of a circular by the Finance Ministry to restore overtime and other payments in the public sector.

The declaration was made in Galle soon after Transport and Media Minister Bandula Gunawardane lamented that the government was short of billions of rupees to pay public sector salaries, pensions, Samurdhi payments and meet recurrent expenditure.

Minister Gunawardena and UNP National List MP Abeywardena addressed the local media after the handing over of several buses to the Galle SLTB depot.

Cabinet Spokesman Gunawardena said that the government needed as much as Rs 196 bn before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and its projected revenue was Rs 173 bn. In addition to that Rs 500 mn was required to settle what Minister Gunawardena called bilateral debt.

Minister Gunawardane said that a part of the first tranche of USD 333 mn from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would be utilised to pay public sector salaries.

Of the USD 333 mn received so far, USD 121 had been used to pay the first installment of USD 1 bn credit line secured from India early last year, according to State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya.

Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera in the second week of August last year revealed as much as Rs 3 bn had been paid as overtime to Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) workers for several months. This disclosure was made in response to a query raised by Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella.

One of the major demands of the public sector trade unions on the warpath over the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government’s new tax formula is the restoration of overtime.

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Now, Opposition wants Finance Secy. hauled up before Privileges Committee



Prof G L Peris

Prof. G. L. Peiris yesterday (27) urged Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to act speedily on the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) request to summon Finance Secretary Mahinda Siriwardena before the parliamentary Committee on Ethics and Privileges.

Addressing the media on behalf of the Freedom People’s Alliance, the former External Affairs Minister said that the Treasury Secretary had challenged the parliament by withholding funds allocated in the budget 2023 to the Election Commission thereby sabotaging the election.

Prof. Peiris said that there couldn’t be a far worse violation of parliamentary privileges than a government official undermining Parliament.

Instead of appreciating the intervention made by the Supreme Court to facilitate the delayed Local Government polls, the ruling party had sought to challenge the apex court, Prof. Peiris said, urging Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to fulfill his obligations.

Prof. Pieris said that if the government lacked funds, just one percent of USS 333 mn received from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was sufficient to conduct the election.

The ex-minister said that the IMF wouldn’t oppose the utilisation of a fraction of the first tranche of USD 2.9 bn loan facility provided over a period of four years to guarantee the constitutional rights of the Sri Lankan electorate. (SF)

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