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Rajiv case convict is exam topper among prisoners

May 24 (Hindu) A.G. Perarivalan, a convict on death row in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case and lodged in the Vellore central prison, has scored 1,096 out of 1,200 marks in the Plus-Two exam and topped the list of prisoners who took the exam. Murugan alias Sriharan, who also faces the gallows in the same case, scored a centum in Commerce and is among the top five with 81.92 per cent, prison sources said on Tuesday. Central prisons in the State registered more..

Adopted Lankan seeks legal parents

May 24 (DN) Leoni Van Ash, 32, a Sri Lankan adopted by an Australian couple in Sydney during her childhood, has arrived in Sri Lanka with her husband and two children to trace her legal Sri Lankan parents. Leoni says her original Sri Lankan name was Priyani Jayawardena as she could faintly remember. She had been handed over to a children’s home in Kandy when she was three years after being abandoned by her parents. Later, an Australian tourist couple visiting Sri Lanka had taken more..

Sri Lanka’s first satellite venture takes shape with Chinese expertise

May 24 (FT) Sri Lanka’s first-ever satellite technology company took form yesterday with the signing of the BOI agreement and promising $ 320 million investment in the long-term. SupremeSAT Ltd., the Board of Investment-approved venture, said it has very ambitious plans to take Sri Lanka into the global space race. “With an initial investment of US$ 20 million, which will be further increased up to US$ 320 million, more..

PC threatening inmate investigated

May 24 (CT) The Borella Police yesterday informed the Colombo Magistrate’s Court that an inmate of the Magazine Remand Prison had received death threats by the Prisons Commissioner. The Borella police further informed Court that the inmate received such threats for no reason and that an investigation in connection with the incident has been launched subsequent to a complaint from the victim’s wife, Tanya Dulani Jayaweera on Tuesday. more..

Gold rush in Kelaniya

May 24 (Island) Over 2,000 people thronged the banks of Kelani River, in Kumarimulla yesterday, following the news that pieces of gold had been washed ashore. Pieces of gold were first dicovered by a group of men who were engaged in gem mining at the Ovitigala ferry. Those who found gold have said that they have found pieces worth around Rs 3,000. The district secretary and the officers of the Environmental Authority visited the place and instructed the people to act in a manner which more..

Russia backs Sri Lanka on war probe calls

May 24 (RIA) Attempts to force an international probe on Sri Lanka, into civilian deaths and rights abuses during the final months of the island nation’s civil war, are unacceptable, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday at a meeting with his Sri Lankan counterpart G.L. Peiris. In May 2009, Sri Lanka’s military defeated the Tamil Tiger rebel group after a massive offensive in the northeast that ended decades of separatist warfare. more..

Sri Lanka's April tea output slips after bad weather

May 24 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's tea production fell 2.1 percent in April from a year earlier due to bad weather and a long holiday that month, the state-run tea board said on Wednesday. Sri Lanka's April tea output was 29.33 million kg compared with 29.97 million kg in April 2011. Production in the first four months dropped 3.9 percent to 104.15 million kg from 108.37 million in the same period last year, mainly due to continued drought. more..

Sri Lanka investment, structural shifts backed by World Bank

May 24 (LBO) Sri Lanka's aims of improving investment, supporting structural shifts and improving living standards as a middle income country will be the focus of a new 4-year program, multilateral lender, the World Bank said. Sri Lanka already had 'well articulated' vision for development, it said. "The road ahead in achieving the ambitious goals and growth targets set in the vision is not going to be easy," Diarietou Gaye, the World Banks' country director for more..

Economic crime costs Sri Lanka billions of rupees each year

May 24 (LBO) Fraudulent practices across business activities has risen over the past two-years in Sri Lanka, with billions of rupees lost each year to economic crime, a new study showed. Some 83 percent of those surveyed by international accounting firm, KPMG Sri Lanka, felt incidences of fraud has increased over the last two-years. While the survey, which was done between 2011/12, was unable to quantify the total economic loss, more..

President inspects Magampura Port second stage construction

May 24 (DN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa made an inspection tour of Ruhunu Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port yesterday. He inspected the construction of port’s second stage which consists of six terminals. All facilities are being built at the port premises to meet the needs of local and foreign investors. The government has planned to implement the second stage of the port as a mega project. Plans have already been made to construct cargo and oil storage terminals. more..

Indefinite refugee detention challenged in Australian High Court

May 24 (ABC) A human rights lawyer has lodged papers in the High Court in a bid to challenge asylum seekers' detention on the grounds of adverse ASIO security assessments. The case argues refugees should have the right to an independent review of their security assessment. It follows a similar recommendation from a parliamentary inquiry into Australia's immigration detention network. Court documents name five defendants, including more..

Reveal secret ‘Action Plan’ presented to US

May 24 (Island) The UNP yesterday called on the govt to reveal the contents of its Action Plan on accountability and reconciliation presented in secrecy to the US recently. Senior UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella said that a delegation led by Minister G.L. Peiris, which concluded its visit to Washington on Tuesday, had submitted an Action Plan to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, consequent to the US Resolution on Accountability and Reconciliation, more..

Protest thwarted by Court Order

May 24 (CT) The protest organized in Vavuniya by the People's Wall of Comradeship, was prevented through an interim order obtained from the Vavuniya Magistrate’s Court by the police yesterday. The co-convener of the People's Wall of Comradeship Sunil Handunnetti said they had organized this peaceful protest to highlight the grievances of the people in IDP camps, three years after the conclusion of the war. “It has been three years since the war ended, but these people in the IDP camps have still not been resettled in their own areas. more..

'LLRC Action Plan ready soon'

May 24 (DM) An Action Plan to implement the recommendations of the LLRC will be ready soon, External Affairs Ministry said yesterday. “It is being prepared by a Committee headed by presidential secretary Lalith Weeratunga with the assistance of many other stakeholders including the Ministry of External Affairs,” Ministry Secretary K. Amunugama said. He said no specific date could be given about when it would be ready but that it would be ready soon. He confirmed that Minister G.L. Peiris had not given a written document to Hillary Clinton but more..

'US Govt. stands by HRC decision'

May 24 (CT) The US Govt has rejected Minister Prof. G.L Peiris’ “home grown solution” speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars during his visit to the US last week. State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the US Govt stands by the Human Rights Council decision. A journalist at the briefing asked Nuland about comments made by Minister Peiris at the Wilson Center’s audience, during which he said that Sri Lanka rejects more..

Weerawansa urges General to be cautious

May 24 (Island) Former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka should be cautious when giving statements, as they might be detrimental to the country, NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa yesterday. "Not even 48 hours had passed since his release on a special Presidential pardon, when he told the BBC that he did not believe that there were thousands of civilian casualties during the last phase of the war but later he told a newspaper that there may have been casualties as the LTTE more..

Customs’ decision on tusks troubles environmentalists

May 24 (Island) A decision by the Sri Lanka Customs to donate a large haul of elephant tusks seized at the Port of Colombo on Tuesday to Buddhist temples has troubled leading environmentalists and researchers. According to Researcher and Elephant Specialist Manori Gunawardana, the Customs Department’s decision to donate the ivory to temples is tantamount to tacitly condoning the poaching of hundreds of elephants in Africa by making it a status symbol. more..

And now a rogue public trustee

May 24 (SL) What are the duties entrusted to the Public Trustee (PT)? Is it not his obligation to honour the last wishes of those who’s properties and monies have been entrusted to the Public Trustee’s Department? However, now eye brows are being raised as to how the Public Trustee Sarath Seneviratne is swindling the monies vested in Trusts and how he has failed to honour the last wishes of those who have placed their wills with the Department. more..

Treasure hunting is the way to go!

May 24 (LB) I have missed my vocation in life. I should have been a treasure hunter. I fault my parents for this. They never told me it would be so easy, or so painlessly lucrative. All you need is a good archaeological site (and we’ve plenty of those), some basic implements – and a backhoe. These are large, heavy and conspicuous but easily available. As an added advantage, the police don’t see them. Everyone else does, just not the police. more..

'Private sector investments to be increased to 33% of GDP'

May 24 (Island) Sri Lanka needs to increase private sector investments to 33 per cent of the GDP with sustained commitment of public investment of 6-7 per cent of the GDP to support private investment, Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama said on Monday. "GDP growth is expected to be over 8 per cent per annum over the medium term, which will pave the way to almost doubling of our per capita income to above USD 4,000 by 2016. more..

CEB heads for over heating

May 24 (Island) The debt ridden Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), which is already burdened with a long term debt of Rs. 322 bn, is running into further difficulties with no rains falling and a higher rate of electricity generation, especially through costly thermal power. Energy generation on Tuesday, May 22, was a record 35.08 GWh. It was the first time the energy generated during a single day had crossed the 35GWh mark, an official of the Systems Control Department of the CEB said. more..

Sri Lanka denies detaining political prisoners

May 24 (Xinhua) The govt said on Thursday that it does not have any political prisoner in its prisons but terrorist suspects. Cabinet spokesman Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said that 234 prisoners who are on a hunger strike at present are those connected to the terrorist activities of Tamil Tiger rebels. He said those involved in the strike are part of the 668 detainees, including 359 under investigation and 309 awaiting indictment. more..

SEC suspends Taprobane Securities chief

May 24 (LBO) Sri Lanka’s securities watchdog on Thursday suspended the chief executive and managing director of Taprobane Securities Private Limited, pending a probe related to a controversial share transaction between a savings bank and a troubled finance company. In a directive to the chairman and board of directors of Taprobane Securities on May 23, the SEC asked the CEO/Managing Director Dinal Wijemanne be suspended immediately. more..

Keheliya to return tomorrow

May 24 (SM) Media minister Keheliya Rambukwella is expected to return home tomorrow (25) from Melbourne, Australia, where he had been receiving treatment for three months for injuries suffered in a fall. The ministry said Mr. Rambukwella would be able to resume his duties very soon. He is due to speak to the media soon after his return. Mr. Rambukwella fell from the balcony of a hotel in Melbourne and suffered bone fractures on February 07. more..

International probe into Colombo ivory bust

May 24 (Island) The Sri Lanka Customs has, in collaboration with the International Customs organizations, launched an investigation into the large scale smuggling of elephant tusks from Kenya via Sri Lanka to Dubai by ship, Dr Neville Gunawardane, Director General of the Customs said. The weight of the tusks seized by the Sri Lanka customs was 1,529 kilos and a kilo was sold at a price between US$ 1,000 and $ 3,000 in the world market. more..

'President has only reduced SF's prison term'

May 24 (DM) The special presidential pardon granted to former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka had only reduced his prison term by nine months and 25 days and therefore his conviction and civic disability remain unchanged, a senior legal expert said yesterday. He said Mr. Fonseka was released under a special decree issued by President Mahinda Rajapaksa last Friday by virtue of the constitutional powers vested in him more..

Sri Lanka sets up new courts to try war suspects

May 24 (AFP) Sri Lanka is setting up new courts to accelerate cases against hundreds of Tamil rebel suspects three years after the end of the island's bloody ethnic war. Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said the justice ministry would open three courts near the former war zone in the northeast of Sri Lanka to hear charges against more than 650 detainees. "We have taken a decision to speed up the cases," more..

Editorial: Fathering freedom

May 24 (DM) It would not come as a surprise if the methods used to decide the ownership of the war victory are applied again when deciding the ownership of Mr. Fonseka’s release. Of course, nobody expected an epilogue that is less politically motivated or more humane than what one witnesses today. By the looks of it, everyone is hunting for a piece of credit for the release of the former army commander. Perhaps, being out of prison is a long awaited relief for him. more..

Srtocks extend losses on SEC rule

May 24 (Reuters) Stock market lost ground for the fourth straight session on Thursday to a fresh four-month low, pulled down by a new rule barring employees of broker firms from selling shares for six months after their purchase. Institutional investors stayed on the sidelines, waiting for directions after the introduction of the rule by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The main share index fell 0.57 percent, or 28.99 points, to 5,019.12, its lowest since Feb. 14. more..

World Bank calls on Sri Lanka to improve investment climate

May 24 (Xinhua) The World Bank (WB) is calling on the Sri Lankan govt to improve its investment climate as funding from the organization prepares to hit an all-time high during the next four years, the organization said in a statement here on Thursday. The WB said that its Board of Directors has discussed the Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for 2012-2016 which would dramatically increase the resources available for Sri Lanka to more..

Sri Lanka’s National Development Bank outlook cut to negative

May 24 (LBO) Fitch Ratings agency on Thursday cut Sri Lanka’s National Development Bank’s credit outlook to negative, from stable, but its underlying rating was confirmed at 'AA(lka)'. NDB's subordinated debentures were also confirmed at 'AA-(lka)'. It said the cut reflects NDB's increased risk profile in terms of its decreasing capitalisation alongside aggressive loan expansion and potential pressure on its asset quality and profitability through portfolio seasoning and higher credit costs. more..

Cops interdicted over probe on rape

May 24 (CG) Four police officers attached to the Anuradhapura police station have been suspended over their failure to properly investigate a rape incident of a minor. A 13 year old girl was reported in January to have been raped in Anuradhapura but investigations into that incident had not been conducted properly. The police media unit said that the police special investigations unit conducted an investigation over the failure by the Anuradhapuira police to more..

Tamil MPs launch hunger strike

May 24 (CG) A group of Tamil parliamentarians have launched a hunger strike in Vavuniya over the long term detention of several suspected LTTE cadres without being charged. Parliamentarians from the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) as well as MP J. Sri Ranga and former parliamentarian Mano Ganeshan are among those taking part in the protest. Relatives of the detainees and several others are also taking part in the strike. more..

National Blood Transfusion Services to be upgraded

May 24 (GDI) The govt has decided to upgrade the National Blood Transfusion Services (NBTS) with state of the art technology at a cost of US$32,634,979.58 with Assistance from Netherlands. This was revealed by the Deputy Minister of Economic Development Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena at the cbinet press briefing. The NBTS of Sri Lanka is the sole supplier of blood to all Government Hospitals and the majority of private sector hospitals in the country. more..

Lanka Ashok Leyland's unique model pays off

May 24 (BL) Last year, Lanka Ashok Leyland began a unique selling proposition that was meant as much to help a growing economy as to enhance sales. The company, a joint venture of Ashok Leyland Ltd in Sri Lanka, “volunteered to support the govt of Sri Lanka” by offering 500 buses to the Sri Lanka Transport Board without upfront payment. Instead, the Board would pay Lanka Ashok Leyland out of its daily collections. “This programme has revived the sinking SLTB,” more..

Sri Lanka News Debrief - 24.05.2012

Media freedom facing pressure: US

May 24 (CG) The American Embassy in Colombo says media freedom in Sri Lanka continues to face pressure throught the country. Chris Elms, the Press and Information Officer of the U.S. Embassy for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, says the U.S will continue to push for the protection of journalists and the right of all citizens to freely express their opinions. Elms said this in a video posted on the YouTube page of the U.S Embassy which highlights the U.S. Embassy’s perspective on press freedom in Sri Lanka more..

Sri Lanka recall Jeevan Mendis, Fernando

May 24 (CI) Sri Lanka have recalled allrounder Jeevan Mendis and seamer Dilhara Fernando to their ODI squad for the home series against Pakistan starting in June. Also included in the squad is fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep, who toured South Africa late last year with the national team but had to head back home due to a hamstring tear. Rangana Herath, who didn't play in the Asia Cup, is back as well while allrounder Farveez Maharoof and Ajantha Mendis do not find a place. more..

Govt. holds no grudge against SF

May 24 (GDI) The Govt has said it does not hold any grudge against former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka. However, the govt has expressed apprehension over his political activities. Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena today said the govt does not question the contribution Sarath Fonseka has made as the Army Commander during the final phase of war, but added it had a problem with his other endeavours. more..

Gold worth Rs. 55 million seized

May 24 (CT) Gold worth Rs. 55 million, weighing 5.7 kilograms that was illegally brought to the country from Singapore was seized by Customs officials at the Bandaranaike International Airport early morning today, Customs officials said. The gold jewellery, which was reportedly stuffed inside a laptop bag, was seized around 2 a.m by a Special Unit of the Sri Lanka Customs. A suspect a Sri Lankan man who arrived in the country from Singapore this morning, in flight EK 349 was arrested. more..