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January 22, 2018 [GMT]
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CID claims Britisher provided vital info, identified phone seized by navy
[Monday 2017-07-17 18:00]

Police headquarters yesterday claimed that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), probing the alleged involvement of a group of navy officers in eleven wartime disappearances, had recorded the statement of British national Mike Horgan, who allegedly witnessed one of the abductions. Police spokesman and attorney-at-law SP Ruwan Gunasekera said Horgan had been here to arrange for a victim, identified as Soosai, from Mannar to join a football team in the UK.

Police headquarters yesterday claimed that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), probing the alleged involvement of a group of navy officers in eleven wartime disappearances, had recorded the statement of British national Mike Horgan, who allegedly witnessed one of the abductions. Police spokesman and attorney-at-law SP Ruwan Gunasekera said Horgan had been here to arrange for a victim, identified as Soosai, from Mannar to join a football team in the UK.

  

Addressing a hurriedly arranged media conference at the Information Department, SP Gunasekera said the navy had abducted the footballer’s father. The police spokesman described the Britisher as the person in charge of a local football team in Britain. The group of missing persons Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese. SP Gunasekera said that they hadn’t been involved in terrorism and were also cleared by the military. SP Gunasekera said investigations had got underway after police headquarters received a written complaint from the then navy chief Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda on May 28, 2009, soon after the successful conclusion of the war. The CID launched an inquiry on June 10, 2009.

Gunasekera said the CID had recorded the foreigner’s statement in respect of the abduction as well as seizure of his hand phone allegedly by the navy. At the onset of the briefing the police spokesman said police had decided to brief the media in the wake Commodore DKP Dassanayake’s arrest in connection with the disappearances. The Joint Opposition flayed the government over the arrest in the wake of UN Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson. It said last Friday a senior officer had been arrested in connection with the disappearance of over 11 persons. Emmerson said the arrest had been made close on the heels of Army Chief Lt. Gen. Mahesh Senanayake’s public assurance that those members of armed forces who had committed crimes would be brought to justice.

The police spokesman said Admiral Karannagoda had complained to police headquarters against his chief security officer Lt. Commander Sampath Munasinghe on May 28, 2009 following the recovery of four national identity cards, one passport bearing the name of one of those whose national identity cards were found, one mobile phone, promissory notes worth over one million rupees and approximately 450 rounds of ammunition from Munasinghe’s cabin. The police official said that Admiral Karannagoda wanted to have Munasinghe investigated as regards his possible involvement with terrorists primarily due to him being in possession of ammunition not issued to him by the navy. Gunasekera said the Britisher had identified the hand phone recovered from Munasinghe as the one seized from him. The official said that the Britisher had provided vital evidence and investigators were in the process of examining available data.

The lawyer said that the four national identity cards that had been found were issued to the missing footballer, his father and two other residents of Kotahena and Trincomalee. Following Admiral Karannagoda’s complaint, the CID had received information from the navy that led to the arrest of Lt. Commander Hettiarachchi. Subsequent investigations revealed that those who had been responsible for four abductions were accountable for seven more disappearances in Kotahena, Grandpass, Maradana and Dematagoda and Dehiwela in 2008.

SP Gunasekera said that the abductions had been carried out to obtain ransom. Asked by The Island whether the victims’ were wealthy for them to be especially targeted, the SP said they had money. Claiming that investigators had gathered vital information regarding the use of hand phones by missing persons during secret detention at Chaitya road, Colombo and Trincomalee, Gunasekera said that the abductors used a vehicle seized from a missing person. They had changed the chassis number and used it as a navy vehicle, the police officer said. According to SP Gunasekera the detained persons used hand phones belonging to some navy personnel based at places where they were held. "Obviously, some navy personnel resented what was happening," the police spokesman said. The official said that some family members of the detained persons had even ‘reloaded’ phones belonging to navy officers as their loved ones used them.

The then Captain Dassanayake had been the officer in charge of two special teams headed by Lt. Commander Hettiarachchi and Lt. Commander Ranasinghe responsible for the disappearances, the police spokesman said. He said with the arrest of Commodore Dassanayake, now attached to the Office of the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) the number of navy personnel taken in connection with disappearances had gone upto seven. Of them, Lt. Commander Munasinghe, who had been arrested at the beginning of the investigation was given bail.

Asked by The Island how one officer whose arrest led to other personnel being implicated in disappearances received bail, the Police spokesman said that it was not a problem. The spokesman emphasized that it did not mean Lt. Commander Munasinghe had been cleared and no longer under investigation. The police spokesman said that they had received altogether 28 complaints as regards disappearances though only eleven were being investigated at the moment.

When The Island sought an explanation regarding the inordinate delay in the CID making arrests in spite of receiving a complaint in May 2009, SP Gunasekera said that investigations were complicated and the progress slow. However, since the change of the government, the process had been accelerated and they were going ahead with investigations. Gunasekera said there could be further arrests. Responding to another query, Gunasekera said that some family members of the missing had met Captain Dassanayake at that time and the CID could prove its case.

  
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TGTE SESSIONS IN CANADA : SRI LANKA’S MISSION ON ALERT
[Sunday 2018-01-21 18:00]

The Sri Lankan mission in Canada is closely monitoring a claimed session by the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam, a body of ‘elected’ members whose ideology upholds separatism in the country, official sources told the Sunday Observer. A release posted on the website of the TGTE stated, “Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam’s (TGTE) 8th Sitting of its 2nd Parliament will be held from January 19th to 21st in Toronto, Canada.” The sources did not confirm if the Foreign Ministry has lodged an official protest to the Canadian counterpart against the TGTE meeting.



Forcing a Principal to kneel: President directs IGP to probe
[Sunday 2018-01-21 18:00]

President Maithripala Sirisena had directed IGP Pujith Jayasundera to hold an inquiry into incident in which Uva Province Chief Minister was accused of forcing a lady Principal to kneel in front of him, officials said. The President had instructed the IGP to take necessary legal action into the incident based on investigations. Meanwhile, the Police said the Badulla Police had commenced an investigation into the incident after the Principal had lodged a complaint.



AMERICAN CENTER TEMPORARILY CLOSED
[Sunday 2018-01-21 18:00]

The US government officially shutdown yesterday for the first time in five years after the Senate rejected a short-term spending bill to keep the federal government running. The shutdown began at 12:01 am (local time) after a few Republicans joined Democrats in blocking the crucial measure would have provided short-term funding for the Pentagon and other federal agencies, the foreign media reported. Responding to the situation in the US, the US Embassy in Colombo said in a tweet message, “At this time, scheduled passport and visa services at the U.S. Embassy will continue during the lapse in appropriations as the situation permits. The American Center is closed until further notice.”



President vows to bring economy under his control
[Sunday 2018-01-21 18:00]

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday said the management of the country’s economy, which had been under the United National Party (UNP) for the last three years, would be taken over by him from this year. Addressing a United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) election rally in Kegalle, the President said he appointed the National Economic Council (NEC) three months ago to provide relief to the people by managing the economy through this council. The President said he would take over the responsibility of strengthening the country’s economy while protecting all local industries, products and investments. He appealed to local industrialists and investors to join in this endeavour and not to abandon their motherland.



Uva CM steps down as Education Minister
[Sunday 2018-01-21 18:00]

Uva Province Chief Minister Chamara Sampath Dassanayake said he would step down from the Post of Provincial Education Minister with immediate effect. The Chief Minister said he decided to step down from the post until the investigation into the allegations levelled against him was completed. The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) launched an investigation into the incident where the Chief Minister allegedly forced a school principal to kneel before him.



Kataragama protestors tear gassed
[Sunday 2018-01-21 18:00]

The Police a short while ago fired tear gas to disperse protesting people following yesterday's shooting incident in Kataragama. It was reported that more than 60 individuals had been arrested over violence.



If Ranil removed from Premiership UNPers threaten to impeach Prez
[Saturday 2018-01-20 19:00]

United National Party Parliamentarian Chaminda Wijesiri said that if any attempt is made to remove Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe from office, the Party would definitely bring a motion in Parliament to impeach President Maithripala Sirisena. He made these comments in relation to rumours that subsequent to the Local Government (LG) polls, the Prime Minister would be changed and that a new Government would be formed.



EC says no power to unseat elected candidates
[Saturday 2018-01-20 19:00]

Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said yesterday he could do nothing about unseating a field officers or any other candidate if he had been found to have illegally contested the Local Government election and was elected. Mr. Deshapriya said unseating of an elected candidate could only be done through a court procedure and added that elections commissions had no provision to do so.



Sri Lanka, China to co-build dendro power plant
[Saturday 2018-01-20 19:00]

Sri Lanka and China on Friday signed a joint venture agreement to construct Sri Lanka's largest dendro power plant in Moneragala in the country's south. The power plant will produce 70,000 megawatts of renewable energy per year to the country's national power grid. The joint venture was signed between Beijing Full Dimension Power Tech Company Ltd, Nanjing Turbine and Electric Machinery Group Company Ltd, and Sri Lanka's IMS Holdings.



Flight diverted to Chennai as Sri Lanka closes airspace
[Saturday 2018-01-20 19:00]

An Ethiopian Airlines flight (ET638), operating on the Addis Ababa-Singapore-Kuala Lumpur sector, was diverted to Chennai on Thursday, after Sri Lanka closed its airspace for some time in connection with the Agni-V missile test off the coast of Odisha. The twin-engine aircraft, a Boeing 787-8 (ET-ATK), left Addis Ababa at 2.30 a.m. (India time). Five hours into its approximately nine-hour flight, while approaching Thiruvananthapuram, the crew were unable to continue flying on the allotted track across central Sri Lanka and its oceanic region, and the flight was diverted to Chennai. It landed here at 8.51 a.m. and later took off for Singapore at 12.35 p.m.



US helping SL counter human trafficking
[Saturday 2018-01-20 19:00]

The U.S. government will award more than 183 million rupees ($1.2 million) to counter trafficking in persons in Sri Lanka over the next three years. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs will award the new project "Equipping Sri Lanka to Counter Trafficking in Persons (EQUIP)" to the International Labor Organization (ILO) Country Office for Sri Lanka and Maldives.



Postal voting for Local Government elections to begin on Monday
[Saturday 2018-01-20 19:00]

Postal voting for the February 10 Local Government elections will begin on Monday, January 22. Officials of the police stations, Divisional Secretariats, District Secretariats and election office could cast their postal votes on January 22, according to the Director General of Election Commission, R. L.A.M. Ratnayaka. Postal voting for employees at other government institutions will be held on the 25th and 26th of this month.



SL delays implementing pledges to UN: HRW
[Friday 2018-01-19 18:00]

The Sri Lankan Government has stalled on its key pledges to provide justice for conflict-related violations and to strengthen human rights protections, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said today in its 2018 World Report. It said the government took some steps in 2017 to reduce restrictions on speech and assembly, but there was little progress on transitional justice initiatives agreed to at the UN Human Rights Council in 2015.



SLPP petition for Maharagama rejected
[Friday 2018-01-19 18:00]

The petition filed by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) over the rejection of its nominations list for the Maharagama Urban Council, was rejected by the Supreme Court today. It was rejected after being considered by a bench of Judges headed by the Chief Justice.



EU insists on key reforms in Sri Lanka
[Friday 2018-01-19 18:00]

The EU stressed yesterday its clear and unwavering expectation that urgent action would be taken by the Sri Lankan authorities to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and replace it with legislation that is in line with international standards.



Dead army officer’s claim doubtful: CID
[Friday 2018-01-19 18:00]

The Army Intelligence Officer who had committed suicide by hanging himself in 2016, having written a letter taking responsibility for the killing of senior journalist and Sunday Leader Chief Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, had in fact spent that day in the Kegalle area, the CID informed the Mount Lavinia Magistrate yesterday. This revelation is based on the officer’s telephone records, unearthed by the CID.



I WILL LEAVE OFFICE WHEN CORRUPT ARE PUNISHED -PRESIDENT
[Friday 2018-01-19 18:00]

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday said during his term he expects to duly punish those politicians responsible for fraud and corruption. “Some people are asking, when I will leave office. I would like to tell them that I will leave office when corrupt politicians are duly punished for their fraudulent acts”.



Judge orders to halt excavation of alleged LTTE ‘treasures’
[Friday 2018-01-19 18:00]

Mullaitivu District Judge Lenin Kumar on January 18 ordered an immediate halt to excavations done in a selected area in Mullivaikkal, Mullaitivu in search of alleged LTTE hidden treasures. The District Judge made this order after considering two submissions made to court by Mullaitivu Police. The police in its submissions said water had filled the excavated large pit causing great inconvenience to residents and there were no signs of any gold being buried despite digging operations done to a depth of nearly 21 feet.



Wiggy wants Intl legal framework
[Thursday 2018-01-18 18:00]

Northern Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran stressed on the need to find a political solution for the Tamils through an International legal framework. Wigneswaran was addressing a special meeting, convened by the Tamil People's Council (TPC) under the theme ''informing people'. Prof. S. Swarnaraj (Former professor, Law Faculty, University of Colombo) who participated in the peace talks during the Norwegian peace facilitation period was also present at this special meeting which was held at the Jaffna Veerasingam hall on Tuesday (16).



Trudeau celebrates Thai Pongal
[Thursday 2018-01-18 18:00]

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, attired in traditional Tamil dress (silk 'veshti' and shawl), celebrated 'thai pongal' the Tamil harvest festival along with the expatriate Tamil Canadians. Trudeau said, "he had a great time" at the festivities. It also happens to be the 'Tamil Heritage Month' in Canada. He wished everyone in Tamil: "Iniya Thai Pongal Nalvazhthukkal!", which means, "Sweet Pongal Greetings." Canadian Parliamentarian of Lankan origin Gary Anandasangaree, the son of the TULF leader V.Anandasangaree is also seen in the picture.


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