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JVP, breakaways, both blame Govt. for attack

June 17 (LB) Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the breakaway Frontline Socialist party (FSP) accused the government of ‘misleading’ the public about the perpetrators of Friday's shooting at a JVP rally in Hambantota, and of maintaining armed militias. Holding press conferences yesterday, both factions claimed that the attack, which claimed the lives of two (one, a woman), was carried out by underworld figures associated with the govt. “Those who were at the event have identified the perpetrators of the attack and more..

Wijedasa vows to bring ‘No-clergy bill’

June 17 (NS) The aim of my Private Member’s Bill is to enforce through the Constitution the, laws to prevent Buddhist monks from entering politics, claimed UNP MP Wijedasa Rajapakshe. He claimed that his bill, which aims to prevent members of the clergy from engaging in politics, was an attempt to arrest the serious decline in discipline among the Maha Sangha in particular. “The Buddha Sasana is on the decline at present due to indiscipline among sections of the Maha Sangha. This in turn leads to social decline. This has resulted in increased violence, drug use, and crime in the country. more..

Rs. 200m in public funds down the drain for C’wealth Games

June 17 (ST) Nearly Rs. 200 million in public funds was used in the govt’s abortive bid to stage the Commonwealth Games in Hambantota in 2018, according to an official report to be tabled in Parliament. The 2012 Fiscal Management Report which is to be submitted to Parliament by the Ministry of Finance and Planning shortly says the Treasury had provided more than Rs. 195.4 million for the bid to host the Commonwealth Games in Sri Lanka and more..

Uncertain, World Bank-funded tourism project finally off the rails

June 17 (ST) The World Bank is expected next week to finalise a US$18 million agreement with Sri Lanka Tourism for a project on sustainable tourism development, officials said on Thursday. The project was dragging its feet since 2010 since authorities were not too pleased about it. Senior External Affairs Officer Sandya Salgado of the World Bank office in Colombo told the Business Times that there were "deliberative meetings between the bank and the government" that were ongoing. more..

Did the Maldivian jump or was pushed to his death?

June 17 (Island) Police investigators are still trying to ascertain whether Mohamed Nisthar (37), the Maldivian national who died after falling from the 18th floor of a private condominium at Union Place last week, had accidentally fallen or was pushed to his death by one of his friends. Police produced the two local sex workers who were with the foreigner at the time of death before courts and they were remanded, SP Ajith Rohana said yesterday. He said that investigators had more..

Chairman SriLankan Airlines caught with huge haul of foreign currency

June 17 (SL) A massive cover up is underway to conceal and shield Chairman SriLankan Airlines Nishantha Wickramasinghe from being prosecuted for having in his possession an undeclared Rs. 4 million worth of currency both local and foreign. Repeated attempts by The Sunday Leader to verify from Nishantha Wickramasinghe how he had Rs. 4 million worth of currency in his residence at De Saram Road, Mt. Lavinia failed as Wickramasinghe refused to more..

Police suspect one gang behind 2 break-ins at Battaramulla bank

June 17 (ST) Police probing last Tuesday’s failed early morning bank robbery in Battaramulla are trying to establish whether it was the same gang that had broken into the same bank branch six months earlier. SI Piyal Gunatillake, Thalangama Police Station crimes division officer-in-charge, told the Sunday Times that in both instances the same approach was used. In the first robbery, the gang had removed collection boxes put out for charity. But on the second occasion, the robbery was foiled by a group of young men driving past the bank more..

Attack on JVP rally; Police draw blank

June 17 (Island) Police have still not a breakthrough into the shooting of two JVP supporters at a propaganda rally at Katuwana in Hambantota on Friday. JVP MP Vijitha Herath yesterday charged that the notorious terror gang led by ‘Ghulampitiye Wije’ was behind the killings. "The goons used T56 rifles to open fire on the crowd at the meeting". Attorney at Law and Media Secretary of Intellectuals for Human Rights (IHR) Chaminda Gunasekera in a press release stated that "IHR considers the brutal attack on a political meeting more..

Sarath Fonseka: Where will he go from here?

June 17 (ST) “Eyaa guliya gilala” or he has swallowed the pill said Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa when Colombo's Mayor A.J.M. Muzammil asked, "what is happening to Fonseka." The occasion was last Wednesday's ceremony where the Ministry of Local Govt donated four jet machines worth more than Rs 150 million for cleaning drains. It has been provided with assistance from the Asian Development Bank. The event was held at the Fire Brigade Training more..

Rishard denies ‘exit calls’

June 17 (NS) Leader of the All Ceylon Muslim Congress and Minister Rishad Bathiudeen denied reports that he threatened to leave the government if attacks on mosques continued. “I urged the President to appoint a ministerial committee to look into the recent attacks on Mosques and provide a comprehensive report on them,” he said. The President in response to the Minister’s concerns had assured that a committee would be appointed to conduct thorough inquiries on the Mosque attacks. more..

Some govt MPs backing Fonseka

June 17 (SL) UNP MP Palitha Thewarapperuma says some govt MPs including two senior Ministers have shown interest in supporting former army commander Sarath Fonseka. He said that he also supports the forming of an opposition coalition to fight against the govt. The UNP MP has been seen accompanying Fonseka at most public events including Fonseka’s first press briefing last week since his release from prison. Thewarapperuma feels the UNP has a right to support Fonseka and more..

Talk at the Cafe Spectator

June 17 (ST) Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne has just returned to Sri Lanka after undergoing treatment in a Singapore Hospital. Visiting him this week was President Mahinda Rajapaksa, a group of ministers and officials. Rajapaksa asked Jayaratne what his ailmentwas. He said he had a problem with an ear. The doctors in Singapore had diagnosed it as an infection. They have given him medication. "Don't start work until you fully recover," said Rajapaksa. more..

'Meet demands now or face strike action'

June 17 (ST) Academic staff of state universities will join the ongoing strike by non-academic staff from July 4, unless the Government agreed to meet demands put forward by them, Federation of University Teachers’ Association (FUTA) President Nirmal Dewasiri has announced. He said the academics’ strike would be in support of their demand for a 20 per cent pay hike and a govt undertaking to safeguard the free-education system. more..

'Troop strength in Jaffna drastically reduced'

June 17 (Island) Those who have cited a heavy army presence in the Jaffna peninsula as an obstacle to post-war national reconciliation would no longer be able to propagate the lie, Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said yesterday. He said that the re-deployment of the army in the Northern and Eastern Provinces following the conflict had brought down the army presence in the peninsula and the Jaffna Islands. He said that in line with the re-deployment plan, both the number of more..

'I could have conducted the war even from North Pole'

June 17 (NS) Former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka said he would have even conducted the war against the LTTE from the North Pole and scoffed at critics who said he was out of the country during the final week of the war. “I was in China, on a visit that was postponed five times. Therefore, I had to be there. However, I kept in touch with the commanders via satellite phone at least three times a day and monitored the situation via internet,” he said. more..

Govt. distances itself from SB’s sexual assault charge within Colombo campus

June 17 (ST) Barely a week after authorities alleged sexual abuse within the Colombo Campus, the Govt yesterday distanced itself from this claim, while students accused the State of framing a story aimed at damaging the image of ‘rights’ groups within the country’s universities. Minister S.B. Dissanayake was last week quoted as saying that four female freshers had been sexually molested by senior male students more..

Show progress by March 2013

June 17 (CT) Countries that backed Sri Lanka by either abstaining or voting against the US-sponsored UNHRC resolution in Geneva, have told the govt to take steps to implement the LLRC recommendations and show progress by March 2013. Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga who is heading the task force formed to implement the LLRC recommendations said, “The countries that had been backing Sri Lanka during the previous resolution had made this request in order to more..

TMVP hails UN de-listing

June 17 (CG) The Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pullikal (TMVP) hailed the announcement by the United Nations that Sri Lanka has been removed from a list of countries or groups involved in child recruitment for armed conflict. Last week the U.N. special representative for children and armed conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy announced in New York that Sri Lanka was de-listed after its successful completion of Security Council-mandated action plans to end the recruitment more..

Cuba, Sri Lanka vow to boost cooperation

June 17 (Xinhua) Cuban President Raul Castro and visiting President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka agreed Saturday to further strengthen cooperation between their countries. The two leaders highlighted the good state of the bilateral relationship and expressed common willingness to further promote it, the official NNTV news reported. Earlier in the day, Rajapaksa, who arrived on Friday for a three-day state visit, laid a wreath to the statue of more..

Authorities silent on how he came to possess so much foreign currency

June 17 (ST) In addition to eight police teams, CID detectives have been called in to probe the multi-million rupee housebreaking and theft at the residence of SriLankan Airlines Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe. More than a week after the incident, over which some 70 persons have been questioned, no arrests have been made so far, Police spokesperson Ajith Rohana told the Sunday Times. more..

Cement Corporation caught tampering

June 17 (ST) A Cement Corporation warehouse was sealed by the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) following complaints that cement imported from Pakistan was being re-packed for sale although its expiry date has reportedly lapsed. CAA officials raided the Panchikawatte warehouse where they found some 7,000 cement bags and sealed the place. They said the raid took place following a tipoff and they found workers repacking the cement imported from Pakistan in new bags. more..

Sri Lanka accused of discriminating against women

June 17 (SL) A European human rights watchdog has accused Sri Lanka of violating a United Nations (UN) convention on discrimination against women. The European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in a recent media statement said that women and girls in the North and East are subject to harassment by police and military personnel. These incidents are linked to the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which, the statement said, “makes it easier for more..

LCC looking to sell off strandard Coal

June 17 (SL) The Lanka Coal Company (LCC) has submitted a proposal to the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) to sell an 86,900 tonne coal shipment to Ceylon Shipping. The shipment of coal has been stuck in the Indian Ocean for the past one and a half months. The LCC and Ceylon Shipping have been unable to unload the cargo due to poor weather conditions in Puttlam. LCC chairman, Tissa Herath, explained that they had “tentatively struck up a deal with Ceylon Shipping to purchase the cargo at the same price which was originally paid for by the CEB.” more..

Maldivian President’s brother escapes assault outside embassy

June 17 (ST) Assad Waheed, brother of Maldivian President Mohamed Waheed, was jeered at and nearly assaulted during a heated standoff with pro-democracy demonstrators outside their embassy in Bambalapitiya on Friday evening. The incident broke out when the Maldivian President’s brother attempted to film the demonstrators. The timely intervention of the police prevented the situation from turning ugly more..

Tourism stakeholders at loggerheads

June 17 (NS) Despite opposition from a key tourism stakeholder, the Ministry of Finance and Planning together with the Exchange Controller at the Central Bank of Sri Lanka are likely to approve a recent proposal put forward by the Tourist Hotel Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) to allow the hoteliers to deal in foreign currencies. This is after a recent meeting between the members of the Tourism Cluster and the Ministry officials where the proposal was discussed. “We have received a positive response from the Treasury Secretary, more..

'Energy shortage hits SAARC countries except Sri Lanka'

June 17 (SO) All countries in the SAARC region except Sri Lanka suffer from massive energy shortages which hamper their drive towards reaching economic development goals. One-third of the global population without access to electricity supply are from South Asia which is the poorest region in the world, World Bank Chief Economist for South Asia Kalpana Kochhar said last week. Joining a SAARC journalism workshop in Kathmandu via video conference from Washington DC, more..

MR using Sri Lankan Airlines as his private jet

June 17 (SL) President Mahinda Rajapaksa is using Sri Lankan Airlines as his private jet forcing the airline to face financial losses, officials at the airline allege. The airline is incurring millions of rupees in losses solely due to President Rajapaksa not using regular flights as was done by all previous Presidents. “It is disheartening to see the manner in which Sri Lankan Airlines aircraft are used by the First Family as if it is their own property. more..

SLMC looking for partners

June 17 (LB) Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) yesterday decided to form an electoral alliance for the upcoming Eastern Provincial Council election with any political party which is willing to sign a MoU with them regarding issues faced by the Eastern Province Muslims. SLMC general secretary Hassan Ali said that the final decision regarding an electoral alliance will be made within the next two weeks by the party High Command. “Things will fall into place after the more..

Life becomes harder for SL’s wanted

June 17 (LB) The newly launched Integration of Interpol Database Services with Sri Lanka Immigration Border Control System will be more accurate and quicker in tracing Sri Lankans in the wanted list, such as Sicille Kotelawala. Police Spokesperson SP Ajith Rohana said the whereabouts of several Sri Lankans who are wanted by the CID can be traced through the new Interpol link system. “Persons like Sicille Kotelawala, wanted in connection with the Golden Key scam more..

UNP demand ‘immediate removal’ of Defence Secretary

June 17 (AD) The UNP today called for the immediate removal of the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, as they don’t believe the shooting at a JVP meeting in Katuwana, Hambantota will be independently investigated and solved under his administration. As with all other extra judicial killings, abductions, involuntary disappearances and killing of protesters, we don’t have any reason to believe, there will be more..

Tourism Faculty for S-E University

June 17 (SO) The Kuwait Fund has agreed to set up a Tourism and Hotel Management Faculty at the South Eastern University. This follows a discussion with the representatives of the Kuwait Fund by a Sri Lankan delegation led by Minister Rauff Hakeem which has been to Kuwait on an official visit. The delegation consisted of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Chairman and Parliamentarian Faisal Kasim, Youth Congress Organiser and EPC Member A.L.M. Jameel and SLMC Deputy Leader Hafiz Naseer. more..

Mannar Bishop never called for a separate country or renewed armed struggle – Dr. JJ

June 17 (Island) UNP MP Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena has appealed to His Holiness Pope Benedict the XVI to use his good offices to dialogue with the Sri Lankan Govt to ensure that the Bishop of Mannar continues his mission without threats, intimidations and false allegations. In a letter to the Pope, the MP says: "Since the beginning of 2012, adverse comments about the Bishop by some chauvinistic and communal minded Govt Ministers, and media owned, more..

World's largest car-carrier firm patronises MRMR Port

June 17 (SO) The Roll-on/Roll-off (Ro/Ro) Vessel, "MV CYGNUS LEADER" of the Japanese NYK Line made its first call at the Magam Ruhunupura Mahinda Rajapaksa (MRMR) Port on June 13, 2012". The ship with the capacity to load 6,500 units of vehicles onboard, called at the MRMR Port on its way from Japan to the Middle East and discharged 806 vehicles and machinery manufactured in Japan, Germany, UK and Thailand that was consigned to Sri Lanka. more..

Internet hacking and tracking on the increase in Sri Lanka

June 17 (Island) It is impossible to prevent people misusing technology and trends are developing to shift the nature of crimes from traditional to hi-tech, for which a computer or network may be used as a tool or a storage medium to commit crimes, says Sunil Abeyratne, Chairman, Colombo Law Society IT Committee. "It is said that Internet hacking and tracking is on the increase in Sri Lanka, necessitating increased awareness among more..

No HIV affected persons in Prisons-Minister

June 17 (DM) Minister Chandrasiri Gajadheera has rejected reports regarding the presence of persons afflicted with the HIV/AIDS in the Prisons, the state owned SLBC reported. “Specialist Physicians inspect the health condition of the detainees every month. But any disclosure of an AIDS condition was not reported,” the Minister said. He said that a programme will commence to check the health condition of those entering the Prisons. In May, this year a Court ordered more..

Healed within two hours — Bipasha Basu bounces back to perform at Carlton Super 7’s

June 17 (Island) The unexpected happened…. The timing was critical because the eagerly-awaited performance by the two visiting celebrated Bollywood superstars at the second and final leg of Carlton Rugby Super 7’s in Colombo was just hours away. The atmosphere was tense that sun-bathed afternoon as the challenge at hand seemed indomitable. Ms. Bipasha Basu, one of India’s most sought after actresses, more..

Mahela credits Malinga for turnaround

June 17 (CI) Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene, while praising the effort of Thisara Perera, who swung the fourth ODI Sri Lanka's way with a hat-trick, said a lot of credit should go to Lasith Malinga for setting it all up. Pakistan needed 78 to win from 76 deliveries with eight wickets in hand when Malinga dismissed Misbah-ul-Haq for 57 to trigger a collapse which had them crumbling from 166 for 2 to 179 for 9. "Lasith gave us that momentum. A couple of overs of aggressive bowling put them on the back foot more..

Helicopters deployed to douse forest fire

June 17 (DM) Two helicopters have been deployed to combat a fire in the hill area of the Minipe-Morayaya forest reserve in the Hasalaka police division, the Air Force said. “We have already dispatched two Bell-212 helicopters from the Hingurakgoda camp and are preparing to dispatch one MI-17 helicopters soon,” Air Force Spokesman Andrew Wijesuriya said. A forest fire is raging on a mountain slope and strong winds as well as difficulties to reach the area are preventing the authorities from bringing the fire more..

Colombo-Tuticorin ferry service abandoned

June 17 (Island) Ambitious plans by Sri Lanka to establish a stable Indo-Lanka ferry service post-war have virtually run aground as the designated Indian port of Tuticorin had failed to make a dent into the growing segment of costly air travel to South India despite a substantial difference in the fare, officials said last week. It would have been an entirely different story if the passenger vessels had the green light to sail to Rameswaram, as done prior to the suspension of more..

Lankan naval men threaten TN fishermen, seize catch

June 17 (PTI) Sri Lankan naval men allegedly threatened fishermen, who put to sea from here, at gun point near Katchatheevu today and took away their catch, officials said. Some fishermen told reporters that they ventured into the sea in 10 fishing boats and alleged that the Lankan navy had surrounded them while they were fishing near Katchatheevu. Fisheries department officials said they had also received information about the incident and were enquiring.