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September 21, 2017 [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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President urges world to support SL's reconciliation
[Wednesday 2017-09-20 18:00]

President Maithripala Sirisena called upon the international community to seriously consider the tremendous progress made by the government towards reconciliation, restoration of democratic freedoms, human rights and the rule of law and extend the fullest support to the slow, but the steady forward march of Sri Lanka to build a progressive, democratic, free and equal society with high morals and discipline.



Ex-army chief Fonseka says visa denied to US to attend UN general assembly sessions
[Wednesday 2017-09-20 18:00]

Sri Lanka's ex-army chief Sarath Fonseka Tuesday said he had been denied a visa to attend the UN general assembly because of unresolved war crime allegations against the military. The war-time general, who is now minister of regional development, said he was due to travel to New York this week, but he was the only one in the Sri Lankan delegation not issued a visa. Fonseka said he could not accompany President Maithripala Sirisena who left Colombo on Sunday to address the United Nations General Assembly."I was not given a visa because of the war crimes allegations against the military," Fonseka told AFP. "That is why I say they must be investigated."



PC Minister files petition challenging Wigneswaran’s power
[Wednesday 2017-09-20 18:00]

An ousted Provincial Council Minister challenged Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran in the Court of Appeal, saying that he has no power to appoint or remove any provincial council minister. The Court of Appeal yesterday fixed its order for 3 October on whether to issue an interim order and notices in respect of the writ petition filed by expelled Minister B. Deniswaran. The bench comprised justices L.T.B. Dehideniya (CA President) and A.L. Shiran Gooneratne.



PTA was not used for past six months: Sagala
[Wednesday 2017-09-20 18:00]

The Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) will be replaced soon with a new counter terrorism law, Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayaka said in Parliament yesterday. The Minister also said that the PTA has not been used for the past six months. He added that the initial steps in that connection has been commenced. He also added that a Parliamentary Committee has also given its views on the same.



Rohingya Muslims: Will Dalai Lama be asked to leave, Tamil refugees sent back, asks Omar
[Wednesday 2017-09-20 18:00]

Lashing out at people for demanding deportation of Rohingya Muslims from the country, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has asked if those plugging their India were going to demand that the Tibetan Government in exile leave Indian shores immediately. “Will Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka be sent back as punishment for Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination,” he further asked.



Lalith, Anusha released on bail
[Wednesday 2017-09-20 18:00]

Former presidential secretary Lalith Weeratunga and TRC’s former director general Anusha Palpita were today released on bail by Colombo High Court Judge Gihan Kulatunga. They were earlier sentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment after they were found guilty of misappropriating Rs.600 million belonging to the TRC and using it to distribute ‘Sil Redi’ during the 2015 presidential election campaign. Mr.Weeratunga and Mr. Palpita were each released on cash bail of Rs.100, 000 with three sureties of Rs.1 million each. Their passports were impounded by Court.



Prez to meet Zeid on Friday Talks crucial for SL
[Tuesday 2017-09-19 18:00]

The coming Friday (22) will be extremely crucial for Sri Lanka with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Al Hussein expected to have a one-on-one meeting with President Maithripala Sirisena here in New York. According to reliable sources, the meeting is going to be a closed door affair between the President and the High Commissioner. Diplomats are of the view that the outcome of this meeting is going to be crucial for Sri Lanka with High Commissioner Hussein recently expressing his frustration at the delayed reconciliation process in Sri Lanka.



TNA cracking up due to 20A
[Tuesday 2017-09-19 18:00]

Cracks have appeared in the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) over the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution with Eelam People's Revolutionary Left Front (EPRLF) leader Suresh Premachandran declaring that the party is opposed to the Amendment. However, TNA Leader R. Sampanthan and MP M.A. Sumanthiran had earlier stated that they will support the Amendment. "The TNA leadership does not discuss matters within the coalition. The decisions are taken by leader Sampanthan and Sumanthiran. They never discuss these matters with other constituent party leaders," Premachandran said.



No US visa for me, says SF
[Tuesday 2017-09-19 18:00]

Regional Development Minister Field Marshal Saratha Fonseka said on Monday that despite his name was included in the delegation travelling to the United States with President Maithripala Sirisena to participate at the UN Sessions in New York, he was not granted visa for the tour. Speaking to the media at Kelaniya, Field Marshal Fonseka said he requested to protect the good name of the Army by punishing the wrongdoers and he was also a victim of war allegations as some have engaged in misdeeds under the guise of war.



20A requires referendum: SC
[Tuesday 2017-09-19 18:00]

The Supreme Court had ruled that some clauses of the 20th Amendment were inconsistent with the Constitution and therefore, it requires a referendum after gaining two-thirds majority in Parliament, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya told Parliament today. The 20th Amendment also includes provision to hold elections for all Provincial Councils on the same day.



Debate on Enforced Disappearances put on hold - Gayantha
[Tuesday 2017-09-19 18:00]

The government has decided not to take up the debate on the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances on September 21, Parliamentary Affairs and Lands Minister Gayantha Karunathilake said on Monday. He also said this decision was taken during the UNP Parliamentary group meeting which met Monday evening with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in the chair. It has also been decided not to take up the debate on the 20th Amendment to the Constitution as well.



Cases of those arrested under PTA will be heard soon: Swaminathan
[Tuesday 2017-09-19 18:00]

The Attorney General’s Department will take steps to expedite the cases of those arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), Prison Reforms, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Minister D. M. Swaminathan yesterday said. The Minister addressing the National Prisoners Day celebrations held at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute explained that the Attorney General had assured him that steps are being taken to deal with 73 cases filed under the PTA.



20th Amendment in the balance
[Monday 2017-09-18 19:00]

The parliamentary debate on the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, scheduled for Wednesday, has been postponed indefinitely, senior ministers have confirmed. Minister Rajitha Senaratne said the debate on the constitutional amendment is to be postponed until President Maithripala Sirisena returns from New York. «The 20th Amendment will not be debated on Wednesday as planned. We will wait until the president returns from New York on 24 September to decide on the way forward,” he told Daily FT.



Sri Lanka likely not to sign UN nuclear weapons ban treaty
[Monday 2017-09-18 19:00]

Sri Lanka is unlikely to sign the UN nuclear weapons ban treaty which is scheduled to come up for signatures at the General Assembly meeting in New York on Sept 20, Sri Lankan government sources confirmed on Sunday. Sources said the item was listed as a topic of discussion during President Maithripala Sirisena’s visit to the US from Sept 17 to Sept 23. But, apparently due to last minute pressure from the US, any thought of signing the treaty has been dismissed, the sources added.



SF says troops have nothing to worry if not committed a crime
[Monday 2017-09-18 19:00]

Former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka says soldiers involved in the war against the LTTE have nothing to worry if they have not committed a crime. He told reporters that establishing an Office of Missing Persons is not just for the people in the North and East but will also be open to those in the South.



President Sirisena arrives at New York to attend UN General Assembly Top News
[Monday 2017-09-18 19:00]

President Maithripala Sirisena arrived at the John F Kennedy Airport in New York today to attend the 72nd United Nations’ General Assembly (UNGA) Sessions. The President was warmly welcomed by Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Dr. Rohan Perera, and embassy staff in New York. The President is due to address the UN General Assembly at 5.00 p.m., New York time, on September 19.



Monks from Myanmar refused visa at Katunayake Airport
[Monday 2017-09-18 19:00]

A group of monks from Myanmar have been refused a visa at the Katunayake Airport by immigration officers. Sources said that seven monks had been refused entry at the airport. The Government had earlier decided to suspend issuing visas for tourists from Myanmar following fears that Rohingya Muslims may attempt to enter Sri Lanka to seek refuge. Sources said that a discussion was held today between officials of the Immigration Department and the Foreign Ministry where the decision not to grant visas to Myanmar nationals was discussed.



Fonseka should ‘shut up’ says former Sri Lankan president
[Monday 2017-09-18 19:00]

Sri Lanka’s former president Mahinda Rajapaksa said the former commander of the army should “shut up”, after stating he would testify against a military colleague accused of war crimes. In an interview to Ceylon Today, Mr Rajapaksa rebuked former army commander Sarath Fonseka’s comments. “Everybody was shocked by Fonseka’s statement,” he said. “An Army Commander should not behave like this.” When asked what the former army commander should do next, Mr Rajapaksa responded, “he should shut up.”



Sri Lanka not likely to sign nuclear weapons ban treaty at UN
[Sunday 2017-09-17 18:00]

Sri Lanka, in an unprecedented move in the country’s diplomatic history, is not signing a major international treaty which it has already voted on. Along with 121 other countries, Sri Lanka voted last July to approve a landmark UN treaty that bans the possession, development, testing, and use of nuclear weapons worldwide.



Probe Into Commodities Imported From North Korea
[Sunday 2017-09-17 18:00]

The Foreign Ministry has launched an investigation into Sri Lanka importing commodities from North Korea. State Minister of Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayake told The Sunday Leader that Sri Lanka was found to be among the top countries importing commodities from North Korea. Meanwhile the Foreign Ministry is to issue a gazette on the sanctions imposed by the UN on North Korea. An official of the legal division of the Foreign Ministry said that the gazette will help local businessman to be aware of the sanctions.


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