FR. TISSA BALASURIYA AND MAHESH MOONESINGHE IN BRITISH NEWS


By THILAK S. FERNANDO - Sept 1997

Sri Lanka dominated the news media today in Britain surrounding two Sri Lankans. Mahesh Moonasinghe, termed as ' a bogus solicitor who worked for a North London legal firm' and Fr. Tissa Balasuriya, the ex-communicated controversial Sri Lanka Catholic priest's trip to London to publicise his controversial book on Virgin Mary.

On Sunday, 28th, 'The People' newspaper exposed a bogus marriage scam where a drug addict woman married twenty men in a 1 million bogus marriage scam. The mastermind at the centre of the racket, who is now thought to be on the run, was revealed as Sri Lankan, Mahesh Moonasinghe. Within twenty-four hours of the People of Sunday exposure the bogus wedding racket and Mahesh Moonasinghe was further exposed in the London Evening Standard with Moonasinghe's photographs. He was supposed to have earned up to 25,000 per week according to news reports.

The racket was further exposed by ITV's " World in Action" current affairs programme allocating thirty minutes of prime time television, on Monday 29th, from 8 to 8.30 p.m., where an award winning undercover reporter, Donal MacIntyre from the ITV, went into graphic details how he posed as an alcoholic to expose the well-organised immigration racket. Donal himself posing as an alcoholic had filmed Tara, the pretty young drug addict, who is on the run after marrying at least 20 men in a 1 million wedding scam. The TV team had also captured Theresa ( Tara's flat mate) another heroin and crack addict in a bogus wedding to a Chinese - Li Quang Yang, who had paid 6,0-00 to secure her services. She posed as Alison Martina Kelly for the ceremony, which took place in northwest London Register Office. Clips of Mahesh Moonasinghe working from a plush solicitors office was shown forging signatures on passport documents bragging about his forgery and saying that he should work as a forger. There were also heated arguing scenes where Moonasinghe flying off the handle with his team mates over delayed cash payments. The TV team captured on film another full wedding at Walthamstow, London Register Office where Tara was getting married as Jacqueline Ann Magee, The 24 year-old who had turned her back on her respectable family for a life hooked on drugs working for the marriage racketeers had become a key member of a scam to provide wives for illegal immigrants, who would pay up to 10,000 to marry a citizen with the right to live in Britain, the programme exposed. Organised crime detectives had arrested twelve people in connection with the scam and had later released them on police bail. According to the TV programme the Scotland Yard is still on the hunt for many others for questioning, while the ' bogus solicitor' is on the run, millions of TV viewers were told.

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Father Tissa Balasuriya's visit to London this week to publicise his controversial book, 'Mary and Human Liberation' was first picked up by The Daily Telegraph on Monday, 29th & later by Sunrise, ethnic radio in Middlex.

According to news reaching London, Fr. Balasuriya's controversial writings on Mary and Human Liberation first appeared in 1990 in a quarterly magazine in Sri Lanka . The Vatican got the smell of it after Sri Lankan bishops who came to know about it sent SOS signals to their Headquarters. The Vatican, of course, did not take this news very kindly and the writings were banned for its ' blasphemous interpretations of the Virgin Mary'. Seventy six year old Fr. Balasuriya refused to retract his words and, in January this year he was ousted from the Vatican and he was refused a visa to visit Italy.

Fr. Balasuriya's radical interpretation of the Virgin Mary as 'a robust peasant woman' and challenging her traditional image as a " sinless, spotless virgin mother" is said to be at the core of the dispute. His criticism about the Church's portrayal of Virgin Mary as a 'submissive, pious woman' and original sins are to be released in London when Fr. Balasuriya flies to from Sri Lanka next week to publicise his book, which he has always denied as heretical or blasphemous.

Fr. Balasuriya's appearance in London and the release of his controversial book is bound to provoke outcry among conservative Catholics.