|fdespite the inding of a prima
facie case of corruption against the minister in a written report submitted by outgoing
Acting Director General, President's Counsel Rienzie Arsecularatne.
The report submitted
to the commission by Arsecularatne on the credit card complaint against Samaraweera states
there is an offence made out under the Bribery Act and calls for the recording of the
minister's statement and institution of proceedings subject to any explanation he may have
for the use of Sri Lanka Telecom-sponsored credit cards.
The complaint against Samaraweera was made in May 1998 by former UNP MP, Rajitha
Senaratne, alleging the minister had unlawfully benefited from the use of the
SLT-sponsored credit cards. It was alleged that Samaraweera used the credit cards both
locally and internationally for hotel accommodation, entertainment, purchase of clothes,
liquor and other gifts.
The investigation was conducted into the complaint by the Bribery Commission under the
direction of Director, Investigations, SSP, Peter Gunatileke. Investigations into this
complaint revealed that a credit card was also issued to former Deputy Minister M. L. M.
Hisbullah and Arsecularatne had directed that an investigation be launched into his use of
the credit card as well. However, with the removal of Arsecularatne from the post of
Director General, the commission has decided not to record Samaraweera's statement or
institute proceedings till the general election is over, it is learnt.
The Sunday Leader learns, the commission has instead directed the investigation
officers to proceed speedily with former Minister S. B. Dissanayake's case.
The complaint against Dissanayake over the purchase of Pan Asia Bank shares by the
Samurdhi Authority was lodged only on August 8, 2001. Dissanayake's statement was recorded
by the commission on Friday, November 9, despite a written report submitted by
Arsecularatne there was no case of corruption made out against the former minister on the
strength of the evidence before the commission.
Meanwhile, controversy surrounds a visit by Inspector Nandesena and Commissioner
Kingsley Wickramasooriya to President's House last week armed with files relating to the
Dissanayake case. Inspector Nandasena is the officer handling the investigation into
Dissanayake. Commissioner Wickramasooriya's wife, Sunila Mendis, is employed at the
Attempted murder charge to be framed against Mangala
Following evidence emerging on the shooting incident at Akuressa last week where at
least four UNP supporters of Sagala Ratnayake suffered gun shot injuries, a private
prosecution for attempted murder is to be filed against Urban Development minister Mangala
A senior President's Counsel specialising in criminal law is in the process of drafting
the charge sheet following details of the incident as recorded by the police coming into
the possession of the United National Front (UNF).
The incident occurred in the early hours of November 5 when a convoy carrying minister
Mangala Samaraweera gave chase to a van carrying supporters of Sagala Ratnayake and opened
fire. One of the victims of the shooting lost an eye in the incident. Minister Samaraw-
eera has claimed that he and his security personnel acted in self defence after shots were
fired at his convoy.
However it is learnt according to notes made by the police in the information book,
only 90 posters of Sagala Ratnayake, one 4 inch bucket, one 8 inch bucket, one Panasonic
cassette radio, one Pioneer speaker, one jack, one wheel brace and four pairs of slippers
were recovered from the van that was shot at by Minister Samaraweera's security personnel.
No weapons were found in that vehicle. There were no gun shot marks in any of Sama-
However the police have noted that there were five bullet marks in the van carrying the
UNP supporters with the rear window shattered due to the gun shots.
It is learnt that Minister Samaraweera in his own statement to the police made at 1.35
AM on November 5, had said that he was travelling from Akuressa to Matara, when he heard
the gun shots.
Samaraweera whose statement was recorded by IP Koralage, states that hearing the gun
shot, he instructed his security to go after that vehicle, stop it and hand it over to the
police. He had said all those in the convoy were asked to stop and go after the van which
was heading in the opposite direction towards Akuressa.
He further states that his security vehicle which was behind him went after the
attacker's vehicle and shot at it.
Samaraweera also stated that after the vehicle carrying his attackers came to a halt
after hitting a lamp post he walked up to them and inquired who they were and was told
they were supporters of Sagala Ratnayake.
Minister Samaraweera has also alleged in his statement that Thilanga Sumathipala and
other businessmen were waiting to harm him.
However Kasun Maduranga Kaluarachchi an 18 year old student injured in the attack by
Samaraweera's security personnel had said in his statement, recorded at the Karapitiya
hospital on November 6, by police constable 22385 Silva, that Samaraweera's convoy which
was heading towards Matara had turned around and given chase to their vehicle which was
heading towards Akuressa and opened fire.
Kaluarachchi had said there were eight of them plus the driver who were on a mission to
paste posters of Sagala Ratnayake when they came under attack.
He had further said in his statement that after the van crashed, Minister Samaraweera's
security personnel had pulled out those in his van and proceeded to assault them. He had
further said with the police arriving at the scene Samaraweera too had walked up them and
asked whether they were "Chandis" and added that "Sagala Balla" should
not try knocking against him.
Meanwhile chief magistrate Matara A.M.Mohamed Mackey had on November 7, reprimanded the
police for submitting a B report based only on Minister Samaraweera's statement. The
magistrate had said that the B report does not reveal whether the statements or complaint
had been recorded from those injured in the attack.
The magistrate had further said that there is no evidence to show that any weapons were
taken into custody from the injured persons or the vehicle they were travelling in.
Significantly, the magistrate has also noted that the B report does not reveal what the
minister's convoy was doing chasing after a vehicle going in the opposite direction.
The magistrate has also noted that all parties connected to this incident should be
produced in court, including those who had admitted to firing as well as those who had
made a complaint regarding the shooting.
The magistrate directed that this case be called again on November 13.
A senior criminal lawyer told The Sunday Leader yesterday that while there were no
weapons found in the possession of the injured persons or their vehicles to establish that
the minister's convoy was fired at, the right of self defence in any event does not extend
to a situation where the danger has lapsed given the minister's own statement that
instructions were given to chase after a vehicle carrying the injured party travelling in
the opposite direction.
He said if the police does not move to arrest the minister and his security personnel
involved in this incident and frame charges, a private prosecution in the magistrate's
court of Matara against them for attempted murder would be filed within the next ten days.
PA claim of pact with LTTE refuted
UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe on Friday wrote to the mahanayakes denying there was
any secret pact with the LTTE but said the party believes in entering into negotiations
with the LTTE to settle the ethnic crisis.
Wickremesinghe was responding to queries made by the Mahanayakes of the Asgiriya and
Malwatta chapters and the Ramanya Nikaya, on whether there was a secret pact between the
UNP and the LTTE.
Wickremesinghe said, "There is no pact or secret agreement between myself and the
LTTE, or agreement between our party or the UNF (United National Front) and the
However the letter emphasises that the party believed it was its abundant duty to
protect the rights of every person belonging to different ethnic groups and religions,
while safeguarding the rights of the Sinhala majority.
The People's Alliance (PA) has made the existence of a 'secret pact' between the UNP
and the LTTE the main plank of its campaign for the forthcoming general elections.
His letter goes on to say, "There is no agreement with the parties that represent
the people of the North and East and our party. Nevertheless, I have built some trust and
faith in them, which is necessary to come to some understanding."
He continues, "I believe this Front has built a strong channel to carry the
message of peace and trust to the people of the North and the LTTE leadership."
"I intend to begin negotiations under your guidance. I will seek the participation
of political parties, religious leaders and civic organisations as well at these
Stating that the UNP was founded by Rt. Hon. D. S. Senanayake who was able to unite all
nationalities and religions under one flag, Wickremesinghe said that it gave him great
pleasure to know he had the strength and ability to make the dream of Senanayake a
Threat to Ranil's life
By militant group
The UNP will this week write to Army Commander General Lionel Balagalla warning him of
a possible threat to party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe's life at the hands of northern
militants armed by the state with Thermobaric weapons.
The decision to write to the commander was taken after Wickremesinghe received
intelligence reports that four Tamil youth with links to the EPDP were sent to Colombo
from Vavuniya with an assignment to assassinate Wickremesinghe.
The reports received by Wickremesinghe state that the four youth are to be trained at a
location close to an operational area. Wickremesinghe told The Sunday Leader he had
information military intelligence was involved in training the four youth.
The UNP will ask the Army Commander to ensure a proper inventory is maintained on the
release of the sensitive weapon to ensure it does not fall into the hands of killer
Govt. and union lock horns on drivers
The ongoing feud between the railway union and the management over the new appointments
of intern shunting drivers to operate trains, entered the eighth consecutive day, putting
commuters into hardship.
Transport Minister Dinesh Gunewardene said he could not meet the demands put forward by
the Railway Operating Engineers Union as they were "unreasonable."
The minister said the union opposed the recruitment of 30 percent of the interns to the
post of engine drivers. He said this was done after holding an impartial examination. The
minister was of the opinion that the union may be protesting against this decision because
new recruits might be causing a threat to the survival of the old hands in the department.
According to Gunewardene, there are 140 vacancies, which had to be filled if the
fleet's running had to be made smooth. He also pointed out that 800,000 people travel on a
daily basis and the railway had to be geared to provide adequate services. "We
recruited the interns with this in view. The union filed a case against the railway in
March this year, but the Supreme Court dismissed the case," he said.
Meanwhile Sri Lanka Railway department's general manager, Piyal Silva, said the number
of trains in operation will continue to increase despite these strikes, and added he was
willing to take action to bring the situation under control in order to provide a better
service to commuters.
Silva said that the action taken by him regarding this matter was approved by the
Attorney General and that he stood by it, until discussions prove otherwise. Silva said
that he is unable to amend the scheme because only two department unions are involved in
this matter and that unless there was a consensus, he was helpless to make any amendments.
However, trade union leaders insist that the management gives them written proof as to
why the 61 personnel were promoted and demanded the management announce the criteria by
which they did so.
The union also mentioned that the management had included retired drivers who are above
the age limit stipulated for their cadre, and by doing so they were putting the commuters
at great risk.
Meanwhile Silva expressed his regret to the public regarding the inconvenience caused.
Airline employees miffed
An estimated 700 employees attached to Sri Lankan Airlines, who were terminated after
the LTTE attacked on the Katunayake international airport and the Air Force base, say the
voluntary severance scheme offered to them is premature.
They have pointed out that their termination should have been carried out with effect
from December 31, but they were compelled to leave the airline following the attack that
took place on July 24.
They said though they agreed to step down from their posts voluntarily, in accordance
with the Voluntary Severance Scheme 2001, they never anticipated the management to serve
them with letters of termination after the Katunayake attack took place.
Employees pointed out that the termination should have been voluntary instead of the
management compelling them to leave.
A clause in the agreement reached between the employers and the employees states that,
"Payments will be made with the December 2001 payroll. However earlier release dates
may be determined by the management at its discretion on an individual basis."
The employees say though the agreement said this, they expected to leave on their own
by December, and not after the July attack.
Some of the retired employees also complained that though the management has not been
given permission by the labour ministry to release of Employment Provident Fund (EPF), the
management pledged to grant them the EPF money.
When The Sunday Leader questioned the officials of the labour ministry they said Sri
Lankan Airlines employees were not entitled to this facility because it was a public
"There are legal barriers. If it was a corporation and later converted to a public
company, then this facility could have been extended. But not now," senior labour
ministry officials said.
The employees point out that they have been misled by the management, which promised to
pay them EPF, when in fact they have no permission from the labour ministry for the
release of the fund.
No party men can accompany ballot boxes
THE elections department will not allow members of political parties to accompany
department officials while transporting ballot papers, Deputy Elections Commissioner M. C.
Arundadhachelvam said on Friday.
The deputy commissioner said political party members accompanying department officials
during transportation of ballot papers was "unpractical."
Last week, UNP General Secretary Senarath Kapukotuwa made an appeal to the elections
commissioner to grant his party permission to travel to Jaffna along with elections
department officials while transporting ballot papers.
Arundadhacelvam told The Sunday Leader, this was unethical and added it would set a
'bad trend.' "In that case we must take representatives of all political parties.
This is something we cannot do," he said.
The United National Front last week also made representations to the election
commissioner Dayananda Diss- anayake to issue a directive against the state media for the
abuse of state property in terms of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.
Airlines withdraws injunction applications
THE Sri Lankan Airlines that obtained two ex parte enjoining orders from the Commercial
High Court of Colombo, restraining Air Lanka Travels Ltd., and Air Lanka Cargo Ltd., from
using the name 'AirLanka,' withdrew its application for an interim injunction, on October
The plaintiff, Sri Lankan Airlines stated the two travel organisations, Air Lanka
Travels Ltd., and Air Lanka Cargo Ltd., were indulging in unfair trade practices, and
unfairly competing with the Sri Lankan Airlines, violating Section 142 of the Code of
Intellectual Property Act.
The plaintiff also stated the airline was formerly known as 'AirLanka' and is still
known as 'AirLanka' and that most of the public and trade continues to identify the name
'AirLanka' with Sri Lankan Airlines.
The Air Lanka Travels Ltd., in a statement has said that the Sri Lankan Airlines was
well aware of the existence of AirLanka Travels before January 1, 2001 and that a bank
guarantee to the value of Rs.3, 000, 000 was even furnished to Sri Lankan Airlines in
September 2000, in order to obtain credit facilities for the purpose of trading directly
with Sri Lankan Airlines. After hearing to the reasons given by the travel organisa- tions
senior counsel for Sri Lankan Airlines Romesh De Silva PC, informed court that after
perusing Air Lanka Travels objections, Sri Lankan Airlines was withdrawing both interim