- Minister Bandula Gunawardena orchestrates enormous fraud at the State Trading Corporation.
The Year 2010 has come to an end and The Sunday Leader reflects on the happenings of the year. These are some of stories that made big news in the year 2010. It was an eventful year indeed — perhaps the most eventful in recent times — elections, the arrest of Sarath Fonseka, clashes in the universities, the arrest of student leader Udul Premaratne, sealing of newspapers, dengue, beggars on a hit list, exposures on donations received, acquisition of land in World Heritage Sites, corruption scandals, match fixing, tortured housemaids, fears about Rizana Nafeek — the housemaid condemned to death in Saudi Arabia, the emergence of Wikileaks…… are but a few issues that hit the headlines of this newspaper in the year 2010.
Stealing Rice; The Heist Of The Year
By R. Wijewardene
The Sunday Leader has uncovered evidence of an enormous fraud perpetrated by the Minister of Trade and Consumer Affairs Bandula Gunawardena and the Chairman of the State Trading Corporation, Pradeep Gunawardena.
By exaggerating stories of an impending rice shortage the Gunwardenas were able to persuade the cabinet to extend a two month (November/December) duty waiver on the import of rice extended until March 21st 2010. And using the threat of this fictitious famine the Minister and his accomplice ordered 35,000 tonnes of rice through the State Trading Corporation STC.
IGP Apologises For Raid On Leader
By R. Wijewardene
The Inspector General of Police Mahinda Balasuriya apologised for the raid conducted by the Mt Lavinia Police on The Sunday Leader’s premises last Wednesday (13).
Speaking to The Sunday Leader’s Editor Frederica Jansz Wednesday evening, Balasuriya said the police had conducted the raid in ‘the dirtiest way possible.’ And the IGP insisted the Mt Lavinia Police had no right to conduct the search in the manner they did.
On Wednesday, 30 policemen and women, some carrying arms, stormed the Leader’s premises claiming they had received a tip off to the effect that The Sunday Leader was printing illegal posters. The IGP claimed that the order for such a large armed search had to come from Police Headquarters and maintained that in this case no such order was given.
Lanka Newspaper Sealed By CID
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema - Photo by Thusitha Kumara
The CID yesterday sealed the Lanka newspaper office in Delkanda, Nugegoda after receiving a court order.
The newspaper office according to an editorial member of Lanka was sealed around 2.30 p.m. He told The Sunday Leader that the CID after visiting the newspaper office about three times earlier in the morning had arrived around 2.15 p.m. and requested all its employees to step outside, as they had received a court order to seal the newspaper office.
Fonseka Pleads For Outside Help, Looking At Asylum
Defeated presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka who is reportedly looking at seeking temporary asylum, is appealing for international intervention to pressure President Mahinda Rajapaksa to maintain democracy in the country. In an interview with an Indian news channel, NewsX last week, Fonseka maintained that, “governments across the world must intervene to ensure democracy is established….”
Overstaying Foreigners To Face Government Wrath
The government has decided to blacklist all foreigners found to be overstaying their visas.
According to the Immigration and Emigration Department, Sri Lanka offers the visa on arrival facility to travelers from more than 80 countries, but the department has found that often foreigners overstay their visas which are valid for 30 days and can be extended for a maximum of 90 days.
“Despite such a tourist-friendly facility, we have found out that a large number of visitors overstay in the country, flouting visa regulations, so we have decided to start blacklisting these tourist offenders,” a senior official from the department said.
According to the official, tourists found flouting visa regulations and overstaying their period will be immediately deported and blacklisted, meaning they may not be able to visit Sri Lanka again.
Cabinet Delays Approving Dengue Vector:
37 Dead In Two Months
The massive outbreak of dengue fever has resulted in 37 deaths so far this year and a total of 5208 cases reported islandwide according to the Sri Lanka Epidemiological Unit.
The Colombo, Gampaha and Jaffna Districts have been the worst hit,with each of the three districts reporting over 500 cases.
Colombo, Kandy, Gampaha, Kegalle, Puttalam, Jaffna and Vavuniya have been identified as high-risk areas and are being monitored daily by both the Epidemiological Unit and district officials.
“Being Framed For Lasantha’s Murder” Says Sarath Fonseka
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
Former Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka has accused law enforcement officers of trying to force a confession out of Brigadier D. Keppetivalana in a bid to frame him and the Brigadier in an assassination plot that killed The Sunday Leader Founder Editor, Lasantha Wickrematunge.
General Fonseka told The Sunday Leader that Brigadier Keppetivalana was arrested for his alleged involvement in Wickrematunge’s killing. He said Keppetivalana’s wife had told him (Fonseka) that her husband had been arrested on charges of being involved in the murder of Wickrematunge.
“That is what his wife told me. When they arrested him at home, they had told the family that they were taking him in for the suspected killing of Lasantha. After taking him in they are forcing him to say that he got involved in the assassination following my orders,” Fonseka said.
‘Hero’ Honour For Lasantha
Founder Editor of The Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickrematunge, who was shot dead in January 2009, has been posthumously declared a Hero For Freedom Of The Press by the International Press Institute (IPI).
In a statement, the Institute honoured Wickrematunge as an IPI World Press Freedom Hero. The nomination of Wickrematunge was unanimously approved by the five-member IPI World Press Freedom Hero jury.
Wickrematunge will be one of 60 World Press Freedom Heroes honoured in a ceremony to commemorate the IPI’s 60th year of defending press freedom worldwide at the IPI World Congress in Vienna and Bratislava from September 11-14.
Horror Home In Madiwela
By Ranee Mohamed – Photos by Lalith Perera
Many of the inmates are confined to their beds. The ceiling is all they see.
She could be your mother; she could be mine.
And we will imagine that everything is fine.
But the Doreens, Lornas, Miriams, Hingerts and Graces living in SSVP Friendship House situated on Thalawathugoda Road, Madiwela are looking for an escape route from this place they called a ‘hell’ — and they seem to have no one to tell as they remain trapped in here.
Signed And Delivered
Anoma Fonseka in a pensive mood as she holds up the nomination papers signed by her husband, the incarcerated (Rtd) General Sarath Fonseka, who will contest the April 8 Parliamentary Election. — Photo by Lalith Perera
Seven Soldiers Detained For The Murder Of Lasantha
Seven soldiers belonging to the Sri Lanka Army’s Military Intelligence Unit will continue to be detained as investigations continue into the murder of Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge. The seven suspects are being held for further questioning by the Terrorist Investigations Department and the Criminal Investigations Department.
The seven soldiers have been separated from an original 17 taken into police custody as evidence unfolds which may link the soldiers to the murder of Wickrematunge, detectives said. Director General, Media Centre for National Security (MCNS), Lakshman Hulugalle yesterday said that 10 out of this 17 have been released and are free to go back to their duties.
Police: The Other Side Of The Coin
By Raisa Wickrematunge
They are part of the background, woven into the fabric of the city, so much so that they rarely enter public consciousness. In fact, if the average citizen becomes aware of their presence at busy intersections or when pulled over for an ID check, it is with a feeling of irritation.
Suspects in Lasantha’s Killing Go Free
Five of the six soldiers remanded for the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge have been released from police detention.
While the men remain under open arrest they have been asked to return to barracks as prosecutors have not found enough evidence to proceed with a case against them.
Last week The Sunday Leader reported that the six soldiers were considered to be prime suspects, as barrack logs reported they had been out on undefined ‘surveillance’ on the days when both Wickrematunge and Upali Tennekoon were attacked.
A highly-placed source within the CID told The Sunday Leader that investigators were certain the men had been involved in the attack on Lasantha
- Basil Rajapaksa Says Western Nations Jealous Of Sri Lanka’s Success
‘GSP+ Was Withdrawn Out Of Jealousy’
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa claimed on Thursday that Western nations are shocked at the fact that President Mahinda Rajapaksa has succeeded in handling an issue, terrorism, which they have thus far been unable to tackle.
He explained that most Western nations have failed in many aspects, including the economy, and are unable to fathom how Sri Lanka managed to end a 30-year war, reduce unemployment, increase reserves, increase remittances and record strong economic growth.
“I Am Being Treated Worse Than A Common Criminal” — General Sarath Fonseka
By Our Political Editor
Imprisoned in a Naval apartment for over six weeks, the beleaguered Retired General Sarath Fonseka says that he is being treated worse than a common criminal.
- A Landslide For The Government
A Mudslide For The UNP
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
With election results all but final, it is now evident that the opposition UNP has been annihilated at the polls.
Even by the ailing party’s low standards the UNP’s margin of defeat was extreme.
At the time of going to press, the UNP had polled just 2,336,691 votes, which is 29.43% of the total votes. Which means the opposition will barely be represented in parliament.
However, UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday (10) said the government has not received its much-touted mandate as 2.6 million people have refrained from voting while another 3.1 million have voted against the government.
Boy Thrown Into River Loses Battle Over Life
Four-year-old Amila Sandaruwan Fernando who was thrown into the Kalu Ganga in Kalutara by his mother on March 11 passed away at 11.40a.m. yesterday (20) in the Intensive Care Unit at the Lady Ridgeway Hospital after battling for his life for over a week.
CID Raided Mihintale Temple To Harass Monks
By Nirmala Kannangara
The recent CID raid at the Mihintale Rajamaha Viharaya in search of Danuna Tilakaratne was aimed at harassing the temple monks who have become a threat to the government, Acting Chief Incumbent Mihinthala Rajamaha Viharaya, Ven. Walawahengunawewe Dhammarathana Thero told The Sunday Leader.
According to Ven. Dhammarathana Thero, five CID officers with a search warrant had entered the Mihinthale Sacred area on April 27 and had not only searched for Gen.Sarath Fonseka’s son-in-law Danuna Tilakaratne but also for some other unknown articles in the temple safes.
“First the CID officers searched the temple buildings and then all the caves in the sacred areas. Later they wanted us to open all the almirahs and safes in the temple. If they really came in search of Danuna Tillakaratne then why did they search the safes and almirahs? Do they think that Tillakaratne is a creature that could be hidden in a safe?” Dhammarathana Thero asked.
Strangers In Their Garden
By Ranee Mohamed – Photo by Thusitha Kumara
The ancestral property of the Pereiras in Colombo 7 has been taken over by thugs.
Rev. Rudge Pereira who has dedicated his life in the service of God has more than one reason to ask for God’s help today.
Engaged in the service of counseling seafarers who are away from home, it is but a twist of fate that Rev. Pereira has no one to console him at a time when he is on the verge of losing his ancestral family home and lives amidst a grave threat to his own life and that of his wife and children.
For investigations have revealed that living side by side their home, in a temporary construction, is a group of ‘violent people’ who insist that the property belongs to them. It is rumoured that the debate is a dangerous one in which this soft spoken, holy man has no effective voice.
“I Will Take Care Of The Media Like My Child” — Mervyn
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema - Photo by Lalith Perera
Walking into the residence of newly appointed Deputy Media Minister Mervyn Silva, The Sunday Leader was greeted effusively and directed to the breakfast table where Silva invited us to share a meal with him. Pushing aside our protests he insisted we break bread with him, maintaining this is “our way – this is how we do it in the South.” So while enjoying a deliciously prepared pol sambol, prawn and dhal curry, Silva acted the charming host. Responding to questions posed by The Sunday Leader, Silva took pains to insist he was determined to build on new relations with the media, with whom he has a history of assaults and threats. Defending his previous actions of atrocity connected with journalists Silva claimed it is he who has been a victim of “certain hostile sections in the media.”
Anuruddha Ratwatte Corruption Case Re-Opened
By Frederica Jansz
The Court of Appeal last week ordered that General Anuruddha Ratwatte, be tried once again before the High Court for having concealed a sum of Rs. 43 million worth of certificates of deposits in a bank vault in what was construed to be in excess of his income amounting to an alleged act of bribery and corruption.
The case to be revisited is in relation to September 2002 when a vault at Hatton National Bank in Ratwatte’s name was found to contain Rs.43 million worth of Certificates of Deposits.
Last Thursday the Court of Appeal allowed an appeal by the Bribery Commission to set aside the High Court order of November 30, 2007, when Ratwatte on a technicality was discharged by the courts. The Court of Appeal however last week ordered that the High Court revisit the case and initiate trial proceedings against Anuruddha Ratwatte. The Bribery Commission has asked that Ratwatte be prosecuted for committing an offense in having assets that exceeded his income.
- Diamonds Are Forever
Mahroof At Centre Of Rs. 13m Cheque Fraud Case
By Faraz Shauketaly
The UNP Member/Organiser from Colombo Central, Mohammed Mahroof, is at the centre of a controversial transaction amounting to Rs. 13 million. Bullion Exchange, the up-market gold and diamond jewellers run by the Wahab family, had closed a transaction with Mahroof and his family, amounting to Rs. 13 million. Mahroof is said to have made two visits to the store. In the first instance he had chosen two sets of exquisite diamonds set in gold. He had subsequently returned with members of his family and taken away four sets of diamonds which consisted of necklaces, earrings and bracelets saying he would choose one and return three. The deal done, the order of diamond jewellery was handed over to the prominent businessman cum politician who proffered cheques for approximately Rs. 13.7 million.
“Am Not Afraid To Go To Jail” Says Fonseka
By Sarath Fonseka in custody
“I have always stated and continue to state that I am not a person subject to Military Law and in any event this tribunal has no jurisdiction to try me.
“At the beginning of this Court Martial I took objection to Major General M.P Peiris, functioning in this Court Martial as President, on the basis that I have dealt with him for an integrity issue and removed him from the main stream of the Army subject to an inquiry. I also objected to Major General M.Hathurusinghe participating in this Court Martial as a member, on the basis that it transpired at a Security Council meeting that Rs. 30,000 out of the Rs. 50,000 rent, of the out sourced vehicle used by him was paid by the LTTE while the Army paid the standard amount of Rs. 20,000. Further, I took an objection to Major General S.W.L Dawulgala participating in the Court Martial as a member on the basis that he is a very close associate of the Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who has time and again made clear his hostility and hatred towards me, since I contested his brother at the Presidential Election.”