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                              The last shipment


This is the Matsushima, the last LTTE weapons ship to be destroyed by
the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) on October 7, 2007. The SLN maintains that
the destruction of Matsushima effectively crippled the Tigers'
fire power during Eelam War IV.

 

Navy strangulated the Tigers - Commander

By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema

Despite the lack of latest high-tech super vessels the Sri Lanka Navy according to its Commander Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda has gone on record asserting that the SLN succeeded in effectively combating the LTTE without destroyers and combat ships that are used by many developed countries at sea battles.

The Commander said the newest vessel owned by the SLN was 19 years old while the oldest one was 44 years old. "There is one gun used in one of the craft that was used during World War II," he said.

Some of the SLN boats carry 30mm weapons while the normal guns used in sea combat is 75mm or larger than that, he added.

Nevertheless, despite these terrific constraints, Karannagoda said the navy's constant patrolling of the seas had prevented top LTTErs, especially Tiger Leader Velupillai Pirapaharan from escaping from the country.

He said the SLN established five security circles around the country to prevent any Tiger leaders from moving out and thus paralysed the Sea Tigers completely.

The SLN therefore managed to thwart attempts made by the LTTE on several occasions to smuggle LTTE leaders out of the country.

To corroborate his statement, Karannagoda said the SLN was in possession of photographic evidence as video cameras with night vision were installed in all navy boats and ships.

According to Karannagoda, it was the destruction of the weapons-laden ships that reduced the LTTE's fire power as it tried to conserve its remaining arms and ammunition. The reduced resistance from the LTTE had then helped the army to move forward, he said.

Karannagoda insists the combined actions of each armed force complemented the other during the battle. 

Quoting LTTE's Daya Master on the LTTE's sudden fall back eight months after Madhu, Karannagoda said had been attributed to the destruction of the LTTE's weapons ships.

"We have LTTEers who were captured who also say the fallback was after the ships were destroyed," the Commander insisted.

Karannagoda said the LTTE's weapons procurer in the international market, KP, had called the LTTE on January 15, this year and requested for a period of three months to send weapons. However, till the end of the war, KP was unable to send the promised weapons shipment.

Also, to counter the Sea Tigers' dinghy boats, the SLN had developed its own small craft in Welisara. These small crafts had then helped the SLN engage in successful sea battles against the Sea Tigers.

Out of 400 Black Tigers, the SLN had managed to eliminate 295 Tigers, Karannagoda said.


CID raids CPC Chairman's offices 

By M. Asgar

The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) raided the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation Chairman's offices late on Friday afternoon.

In a sensational development, they also questioned the Secretary of the CPC, Priscilla Samarasingha, who served under the former Chairman, Ashantha De Mel's tenure.

Documents and a computer from the CPC Secretariat used during the same period by the former Chairman were taken into the possession of the CID.

The move is believed to have been connected to the investigations surrounding the "Oil Hedging Contracts" scenario and the allegations of bribery where public officials are said to have been improperly induced in the performance of their duties.

The raid commenced late on Friday afternoon at the Rotunda Towers offices just before the offices closed at 4.20 p.m. and carried on till approximately 8.30 p.m.

Highly placed sources confirmed the action saying that the CID were focusing on the allegations of impropriety and fraud and that the investigators were looking for evidence and information related to the financial transactions.

The same sources commented that this action was long-awaited, expected and may well have benefits to the country though they were unhappy that unlike the former Chairman who immediately resigned, others have not done so and continue to be on paid leave at grave cost to the CPC.

Attempts to reach Petroleum Ministry Secretary, K. Ganegala proved futile.

The Sunday Leader contacted Karunarathna the former Finance Manager at the CPC, who confirmed that he was unaware of this development and that he was still waiting for the CPC to have an investigation in terms of his continued employment.


Justice in retreat

By R. Wijewardene

While the nation celebrated a great victory only a fortnight ago, a report published by the˜ International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) claims that justice in Sri Lanka is still˜ actively˜ in retreat.˜

The International Bar Association, the foremost association of lawyers in the world voiced its concern that the country's legal system was under severe threat.

In a damning 155 page report the association details the threats faced by lawyers in Sri Lanka and accuses the state of working deliberately to intimidate lawyers who do not conform to the government's political agenda.

The report singles out a page on the Ministry of Defence website which implies that lawyers appearing on behalf of terrorist suspects are linked to terrorist activity and in its long list of recommendation the report states;

"The article entitled 'Who are the human rights violators?' must be withdrawn from the website of the Ministry of Defence with immediate effect (It must also be removed from its archive)."

IBAHR's report states explicitly that lawyers arguing cases against the state have been subjected to harassment by the police and concludes that far from being isolated incidents, attacks against human rights lawyers "form part of a pattern of intimidation" and that a "climate of fear had been created among lawyers in the country."

As much as physical intimidation the report argues that the politicisation of the judiciary poses a threat to the justice system, and claims that counter terrorist legislation and emergency regulations have severely undermined the legal system in Sri Lanka.

The report states that every aspect of the legal system in Sri Lanka has deteriorated severely since 2001 and noted that political interference and presidential interference regarding judicial appointments had undermined confidence in the entire judicial system, as had the excessive influence of the Chief Justice.To rectify the situation the report concluded with a long list of recommendations chief amongst which was the re-establishment of the Constitutional Council in accordance with the 17th Amendment.

The report also urged that the appointment, transfer, dismissal or retirement of judges at all levels  be determined by a transparent and accountable system and called on the government to expedite the police investigations intoÿthreats and attacks upon lawyers.

 Ultimately the report stressed the urgent need for the government to phase out the Emergency Regulations and the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which it cites as being chiefly responsible for the deterioration in the country's legal environment.


No breakthrough in Lasantha's murder

The police are still probing the telephone calls received by the slain Sunday Leader Editor-in-Chief Lasantha Wickrematunge but have failed to make any breakthrough yet. Wickrematunge was brutally assassinated four and a half months ago while on his way to office at Attidiya in the high security zone close to the Ratmalana Airport and the Air Force Base.

The four police investigation teams appointed to investigate into Wickrematunge's murder, have failed to make a breakthrough for the past four and a half months. However Police Spokesperson SSP Ranjith Gunasekera told The Sunday Leader that the investigation process has 'progressed' but declined to give details.

"The police are investigating on the details of the telephone calls received by Wickrematunge moments before his death and also the Government Analysts report. The police teams who conduct the investigations do not wish to give me the details as in case of an exposure in the media all their efforts to make a breakthrough could be disturbed.

"What I know is that still they are probing to make a breakthrough at the earliest," the SSP said. However SSP Gunasekera said that the police are 'waiting' to produce considerable details of the investigations conducted so far to the Mt. Lavinia courts at the next hearing date. The murder trial of Wickrematunge will be taken up on June 11 at the Magistrate's Court, Mt. Lavinia.


Health authorities issue dengue red alert

By Nirmala Kannangara

The Epidemiological Unit (EU) of the Colombo National Hospital  has advised the general public to get themselves tested for dengue immediately if they experience fever, Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Pabha Palihawadena told The Sunday Leader.

Following the recent outbreak of dengue  five months ago, the number of deaths has increased to 85, which is a two fold increase compared to 2008 according to Dr. Palihawadena.

"The dengue menace is alarmingly on the increase with more than 6100  patients recorded in the country. Twelve districts have been recognised as high-risk areas while Colombo, Gampaha, Kandy, Kurunegala, Trincomalee, Hambantota and Matale have recorded the most number of patients. The situation has therefore to be monitored very carefully," Dr. Palihawadena added.

According to Dr. Palihawadena the increase in deaths was mainly due to the negligence of patients. He claimed that unless the general public keeps in mind that they have to exclude dengue at the first instance when they experience fever, the number of deaths could further increase.

" The Epidemiological Unit has advised people to get themselves tested for dengue the moment  they experience fever. Most people do not heed our advice and delay taking proper medicine.  Delaying to administer the proper medicine and  also neglecting to take the required rest when infected with dengue, would result in patients reaching the dengue shock stage, which could be considered the last stage," Dr. Palihawadena said. He meanwhile requested patients to go to the nearest government hospital if diagnosed with dengue and advised the public not to delay in taking the proper medicine from a qualified medical doctor.


RSF frowns on media restrictions

Journalists Without Borders (RSF) last week said there was no reason for the military to impose restrictions on the media after the war, and expressed its concerns over the statements made by senior government officials that journalists who had visited areas controlled by the LTTE would be prosecuted.

"Reporters Without Borders is extremely worried by statements by Sri Lankan officials, including Army Commander Gen. Sarath Fonseka, that journalists who visited areas formerly controlled by the Tamil Tiger rebels will be prosecuted."

RSF further stated, "The war is over. There is no longer any reason for the army to impose so many restrictions on media working in the Tamil areas, including restrictions on access to refugee camps."

RSF further stated that access to refugee camps and Tamil areas in general is still severely regulated, preventing the press from obtaining information about the fate of the Tamil population . "Journalists and witnesses who dared to speak out have been intimidated and arrested."

The organ-isation added that the press had only managed to get into these areas during official visits of Sri Lankan and foreign officials.

"Reporters Without Borders reiterates its call for the release of three Tamil doctors - Thangamuttu Sathiyamorthi, Thurairaja Varatharajan and V. Sunmugarajah - arrested for providing the international media with information about the humanitarian situation in the Wanni District."

The statement also added that the government was in the process of identifying Tamils who provided information to the foreign media.

"Reporters Without Borders condemns the way Vavuniya-based journalist Mahamuni Subramaniam, a stringer for various news media including Reuters, has been treated. He was arrested on  May 14 while covering the Justice Minister's visit to the Ramanathan refugee camp."


Access to camps better - UN

By Arthur Wamanan

The UN last week said access to IDP camps in the north still 'needed improvement' following the government's decision to relax restrictions and that it expects the access level would improve in the coming days.

UN Resident Coordinator Neil Buhne at a press briefing last Friday stated that access to IDP centres had improved during the latter part of the week but has not been fully addressed. "There has been progress on access. Menik Farm is broken into five zones. We have pretty good access to Zone-4," Buhne said.

Humanitarian agencies last week stated that restrictions in accessing the IDP sites made their activities more difficult.

However, Buhne said that the UN had access to all the camps and some of the restrictions had been eased. He said vehicles were allowed into camps during the latter part of last week and that had improved the situation.

"There were limitations on vehicle movements. It did have limitations on our efficiency. However, the restrictions were relaxed by Wednesday (27)." He said the UN hoped the access level would improve this week.

The ICRC in Geneva had said that the organisation was not allowed access into the camps. ICRC Spokesperson, Sarasi Wijeratne however said the distribution process was subsequently carried out for 2350 families.


Will never know final body count - Holmes

UN Under Secretary General John Holmes has said the world will probably never find out how many innocent civilians died during the bloody final phase of Sri Lanka's war against Tamil Tigers rebels.

Holmes has told Reuters in an interview on Friday that it was unclear how many died in the months before Sri Lanka declared victory over the LTTE on May 18.

He has also disputed a death toll reported in The Times of London that had cited a "UN source" to support an estimate that at least 20,000 people were killed during the months-long final siege. "That figure has no status as far as we're concerned," Holmes has said. "It may be right, it may be wrong, it may be far too high, and it may even be too low. But we honestly don't know. We've always said an investigation would be a good idea."

He has said it was based on an unofficial and unverified UN estimate of around 7,000 civilian deaths through the end of April and added on roughly 1,000 more per day after that. According to Holmes, there would likely never be a reliable death toll. "I fear we may (never know), because I don't know that the government would be prepared to cooperate with any inquiry," Holmes has said, adding there was no doubt "several thousand" civilians had died during the siege.

Referring to reports on aerial photographs showing evidence of mass graves, Holmes has said the appearance of makeshift cemeteries was no surprise. "A lot of people were killed, several thousand, so you would expect to see a lot of graves there."


 

 

 

More News....

 

CID raids CPC Chairman's offices

Justice in retreat

 

 

No breakthrough in Lasantha's murder

 

Health authorities issue dengue red alert

 

RSF frowns on media restrictions

 

Access to camps better - UN

 

Will never know final body count - Holmes


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