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February 24, 2018 [GMT]
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Gota says he never approved dismantling of KKS cement factory
[Monday 2017-07-17 18:00]

Former Defence Secretary Gotabahya Rajapaksa has stated that he never approved the dismantling of the Kankesanturai (KKS) Cement Factory and cement company and sale of its machinery and equipment as scrap iron. He had also not seen any document granting approval for it signed by him either.
Gotabhaya Rajapaksa had stated this in an affidavit submitted to the Presidential Commission Investigating Alleged Acts of Fraud or Corruption abuse of former State Resources and Privileges (PRECIFAC). The affidavit had been submitted against two former Senior Army officers including an Army Commander and a former high ranking state official.

Former Defence Secretary Gotabahya Rajapaksa has stated that he never approved the dismantling of the Kankesanturai (KKS) Cement Factory and cement company and sale of its machinery and equipment as scrap iron. He had also not seen any document granting approval for it signed by him either. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa had stated this in an affidavit submitted to the Presidential Commission Investigating Alleged Acts of Fraud or Corruption abuse of former State Resources and Privileges (PRECIFAC). The affidavit had been submitted against two former Senior Army officers including an Army Commander and a former high ranking state official.

  

The PRECIFAC is conducting investigations into an alleged fraud involving the dismantling of the Kankasanturai Cement Factory reported to be in a re-operational condition and the cement company and the sale of the machinery and equipment as scrap iron for over Rs.100 million by the Army during the previous regime.

This alleged fraud was disclosed by State Counsel Senior Attorney Janaka Bandara during submissions made before PRECIFAC about AN alleged act of fraud and corruption committed during the Rajapaksa regime from 2011 to 2015. Documents relating to this alleged fraud were found during investigations made by the Commissions. Former Additional Secretary to the Defence Ministry Siripala Hettiarachchi had made an official note at the Ministry to the effect that former Defence Secretary Gotabahaya Rajapaksa told him that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had sanctioned the sale of this stock of iron. Another note at the ministry stated that Internal Auditor R.M. Premachiandra had pointed out the need for Cabinet approval to effort the sale. The machinery and equipment at the cement factory had been manufactured in the UK and Germany. The German machinery and equipment carried a 100 year guarantee from the manufacturers.

Investigations revealed that this stock of iron had been sold to one Siraz Mohamed and Yusuf Asthan and a retired Army officer named E.M.V. Ekanayake. A sum of Rs. 75 million had been realised as proceeds from the stock sold to Ekanayake. It was revealed that this action had been taken by the Army in an arbitrary manner without any acquisition of the Cement Corporation premises situated in an area of 741 acres, State Council Senior Attorney Janaka Bandara making submissions made for he prosecution said. These had been made with written evidence during investigations made by Constables Herath and Wijesinghe under the supervision of Sub Inspector Herath,former Army Commander Daya Ratnayake, former Commander Jaffna Security forces Headquaers Maj.Gen.Mahinda Hathurusinghe, Maj.Gen. Udaya Annesley Perera, Additional Secretary Defence Ministry Siripala Hettarachchi, Yousuf Asthan and Siriaz Mohamed appeared as defendants before the commissions.

  
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SL backslides in pursuing UN commitments: AI
[Friday 2018-02-23 20:00]

Though Sri Lanka continued to pursue commitments made in 2015 to the UNHRC, progress of implementing them has been slowed and there was evidence of backsliding, the Amnesty International (AI) said on Thursday. In its country report on Sri Lanka for 2017/2018, AI said commitments made by Sri Lanka in 2015 – through the UN resolution had not been implemented by the end of the year.



Reparations essential to achieve reconciliation: Tittawella
[Friday 2018-02-23 20:00]

Reparations are essential in leading to a process of reconciliation and it should be done in parallel to a process on truth, justice, and non-recurrence, Secretary of the Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms (SCRM), Mano Tittawella said. He said this in view of the two-day international conference organised by the SCRM, International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Migration Agency on reparations for conflict victims. The conference was launched in Colombo yesterday.



Diyathalawa explosion: Army appoints six-member committee
[Friday 2018-02-23 20:00]

A six-member committee headed by Major General Rukmal Dias was appointed by the army to investigate into the hand grenade explosion in a private bus on Wednesday at Kahagolla, Diyathalawa, the Army said. Speaking to the Daily Mirror Army Media Spokesperson Brigadier Sumith Atapattu said the committee was appointed in addition to the investigations carried out by the police.



I am exhausted
[Friday 2018-02-23 20:00]

Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said today he was extremely tired with all the work he had to do with the local governments elections and would prefer to handover his duties to someone else even for a month. While referring to the continuous procedure of elections, Mr. Deshapriya told a news conference that he had felt that the time had arrived to get rid of these things.



TNA reiterates call for US intervention Slow implementation of Geneva Resolution
[Friday 2018-02-23 20:00]

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R. Sampanthan has urged US to pressure Sri Lanka to implement Geneva Resolution 30/1. The following is the text of the statement issued by the TNA following a meeting between Sampanthan and the visiting United States member of Congress F. James Sensenbrenner and His Chief of Staff Matt Bisenius at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament: "Sampanthan apprised the member on recently concluded Local Government Elections and the resultant political situation. Explaining the Constitution making process, Sampanthan highlighted that the process must continue and seek a successful end. He also emphasized that the Constitution must be approved by the people at a referendum.



Re-think on electoral system for PCs
[Friday 2018-02-23 20:00]

In the aftermath of the defeat at the local government elections, the United National Party (UNP) is said to be considering whether to revert to the previous system of Proportional Representation for the Provincial Council Elections.The government postponed the Provincial Council Elections till a new systems of a mix of the First-Past-the-Post and Proportional Representation was worked out. The delimitation committee appointed to demarcate the provincial wards had submitted has submitted its report. However, there is a view within the party that the old Proportional Representation System was less complicated.



Govt. bound to implement UNHRC resolution: TNA
[Thursday 2018-02-22 18:00]

Opposition Leader and TNA MP R. Sampanthan today said that the government was bound to implement the UNHRC resolution both in spirit and letter and called on the international community to ensure it was fully implemented. Highlighting the delays that have occurred in implementing the resolution he said that the International community must take necessary steps to ensure that the government is held accountable for the commitments made to the international community and to the people in Sri Lanka on implementing Cosponsored resolution at the UN Human Rights Council.



Priyankara Fernando arrives in Sri Lanka
[Thursday 2018-02-22 18:00]

Minister Counsellor (Defence) attached to the Sri Lankan High Commission in London, Brigadier Priyankara Fernando arrived in Sri Lanka a short while ago. He was recalled for special consultations on the video published on social media capturing him making a ‘throat slitting’ gesture in response to a Tamil group of protesters outside the Sri Lankan High Commission premises in London. Brigadier Priyankara Fernando was immediately recalled from his service following the release of the video but was reinstated soon after, with the intervention of President Maithripala Sirisena.



TNA MPs accused bribery, complains MP Saravanapavan
[Thursday 2018-02-22 18:00]

Raising a privilege issue TNA MP E. Saravanapavan said MP Nadesan Sivashakthi had made a statement that during the Local Government election, the TNA Members of Parliament had accepted a bribe of Rs. 20 million each from the Government in order to support the Budget 2018. “This was highlighted in all Tamil newspapers, the electronic media and the social media and all other parties had made use of this during their election campaigns.”



Posting New Year greetings with LTTE emblem: Suspects further remanded
[Thursday 2018-02-22 18:00]

Two youths arrested on the charge of posting New Year greetings with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) emblem and a picture of former LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran on Facebook, were yesterday ordered to be further remanded until March 7 by the Colombo Chief Magistrate's Court.



EU urges Sri Lankan government to honor commitments to OMP and transnational justice
[Thursday 2018-02-22 18:00]

The European Union (EU) says the Sri Lankan Government must honor their commitments on the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) and Transitional Justice. In a tweet, on the occasion of protests by the families of missing persons reaching the one year mark, the office of the Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and Maldives said Sri Lankans ill not be able to reconcile without knowing about the fate of the missing and disappeared.



Diyatalawa explosion: Not terrorism: Army
[Thursday 2018-02-22 18:00]

Military Spokesman Brigadier Sumith Atapattu today categorically dismissed today’s explosion in a private bus in Diyatalawa as an act of terrorism. "If it was an act of terrorism, the damage and explosion would have been much bigger," he added. Brigadier Atapattu said a Military inquiry and Police Inquiry were in progress and details pertaining to the explosion could be known after the conclusion of those inquiries.



17 passengers including 12 military personnel injured in bus explosion Top News
[Wednesday 2018-02-21 19:00]

Seventeen passengers including twelve military personnel and a woman were injured in an explosion inside a bus in Diyatalawa this morning, Army Media Spokesperson Brigadier Sumith Atapattu said. He said seven soldiers and five airmen were among the military personnel who were injured. The rest of the injured were identified as civilians.



Hand grenade caused Diyathalawa bus explosion
[Wednesday 2018-02-21 19:00]

The Army Commander has informed that a hand grenade is the likely cause of an explosion and fire inside a bus at Kahagolla in Diyathalawa this morning, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament a short while ago. Law and Order Minister Sagala Rathnayaka told MPs that the grenade may have been inside the bag of one of the passengers and investigations into the incident are ongoing. Nineteen passengers inside the bus were injured due to the explosion this morning. According to the Army, 12 of the injured are military personnel. The military has insisted that the incident is not being treated as an act of terrorism.



Parliament informed National Government continues
[Wednesday 2018-02-21 19:00]

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) General Secretary Mahinda Amaraweera told Parliament today that the National Government was still valid and continues. PM Wickremesinghe stated that the agreement on the National Government was still valid and there was no need to amend it. Meanwhile. UPFA General Secretary stated that the UPFA had not withdrawn from the National Government.



UN blocks deployment of Sri Lankan military officer to Lebanon
[Wednesday 2018-02-21 19:00]

The United Nations (UN) has blocked the deployment of a Sri Lankan military officer to Lebanon for peacekeeping operations. UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq said that following questions raised, the deployment of Rathnappuli Wasantha Kumara Hewage has been suspended, Innercity Press reported.



Diyathalawa explosion not terror related - Military
[Wednesday 2018-02-21 19:00]

Military Spokesman Brigadier Sumith Atapattu has clarified that the explosion this morning did not take place inside the private bus plying from Jaffna to Bandarawela, but on another bus to which the passengers got into along the way.



25% women reps not possible in 10 LG bodies
[Wednesday 2018-02-21 19:00]

Elections Commission Mahinda Desapriya said the 25 per cent woman representation could not be maintained in at least ten local government bodies because of a lacuna in the Local Authorities’ Elections Act. Though the Act stipulates that each of the councils should be made up of 25 per cent woman representatives, the parties that contested the polls in these ten local bodies appear to have found it difficult to nominate women candidates.



Sampanthan warns MR of lotus bud blooming into Eelam
[Tuesday 2018-02-20 19:00]

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R Sampanthan today warned former President Mahinda Rajapaksa that the lotus bud of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) will bloom into Eelam if he continues to spread false propaganda. Speaking in Parliament during the debate on the political situation in the country, Sampanthan said that there was no dispute that the SLPP led by Rajapaksa won the just concluded Local Government elections.



Lanka’s case up for review in Geneva on March 16
[Tuesday 2018-02-20 19:00]

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) which meets next Monday for its 37th session will discuss Universal Periodical Review (UPR) outcomes for Sri Lanka on March 16. On that day UPR outcomes for Benin, Pakistan, Zambia, Japan and Ukraine will also be taken up. Meanwhile the UNHRC Secretary General’s country report/ oral briefing on Sri Lanka, detailing the progress the country has made on promoting human rights and the progress made on implementing a resolution to increase accountability, will take place on March 21. This will be followed up by a general debate.


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