Busy for six months
'Other commitments' more important than court for police
months after the murder of The Sunday Leader's Founder
Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge police investigations into
the killing are reported to have made no progress
Further, on consecutive occasions when the Wickrematunge
murder case was being heard at the Mt. Lavinia
Magistrate's Court police representatives failed to make
an appearance forcing the postponement of the hearings.
questioned by The Sunday Leader as to why the Mirihana
Police had failed to appear before the court, Police
Spokesman Ranjith Gunasekera claimed that 'other
commitments' did not allow them to attend the sessions.
not that the Mirihana Police wanted to stay away from
court but they have other pressing obligations that need
be carried out," he said.
was brutally assassinated on January 8 at the Attidiya
Junction in broad day light in a high security zone in
close proximity to the Ratmalana Airport and Air Force
several witnesses were reported to have been present at
the murder scene the combined efforts of the Mirihana
and Mt. Lavinia Police have failed, as yet, to make a
credible breakthrough in the case.
April 2 the Mt. Lavinia Magistrate directed the police
to submit a full investigation report into the case by
April 16 but for the past three months the police have
failed to submit either the investigation report or the
Government Analyst's (GA's) report on the crime.
According to Athula S. Ranagala, the attorney appearing
on behalf of Lasantha Wickrematunge's wife, Sonali
Samarasinghe Wickrematunge, the police have also not
submitted a Moratuwa University report on the telephone
data related to the crime, which is known to be in their
the police genuinely want to take the investigation
forward they would have made a sincere effort. Now it's
more than three months since they received the GA's
report and the
University report on telephone data but so far none of
this has been submitted to court," Ranagala told The
lawyer also stated that he would submit a formal request
to the Attorney General to have the investigation
transferred to the CID as police investigations have not
made any progress over the past six months.
Military to recruit more
By Raisa Wickrematunge
Military Spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said that
the military was conducting a recruitment drive for
extra military personnel, despite the war having ended
in May this year.
Nanayakkara said that over 22,000 new recruits had
joined since January this year. The total number of
military personnel currently is around 200,000 he said.
Asked if there was a specific number the military
planned to recruit this year, Nanayakkara declined to
give a figure - saying there was no specific target in
terms of numbers.
Military Spokesman said that one reason for the need to
recruit extra personnel was to replace the servicemen
who had been disabled, seriously injured or are retiring
explained that areas which had been liberated would
still have to be guarded. He spoke of some 10,000 former
LTTE cadres who had surrendered and were undergoing
rehabilitation. "We have to monitor these people's
activities, and see that they have no intention of
turning violent again," Nanayakkara said, adding, that
following rehabilitation these former cadres could
return to civil society.
Brigadier added that people moving along certain routes
in former LTTE-controlled areas were still vulnerable to
claymore attacks and bombs. In addition, extra personnel
were required he said, to aid in early recovery
projects, such as the de-mining process and
Meanwhile, Police Spokesman SSP Ranjith Gunasekara said
the police too were planning to take on new recruits -
"We are looking for 10,000 new recruits," Gunasekara
said. The Police Spokesman said extra personnel were
needed because there were plans to open several police
stations in the north.
Court rules predictions not a threat to President
By R. Wijewardene
Chandrasiri Bandara, the astrolo-ger detained by the CID
for seeing signs in the stars that posed a threat to the
President was released on Friday, July 3, after over a
week in detention.
Colombo Court found insufficient evidence of a credible
threat posed by his predications to justify his
interpretation of movements in the heavens led him to
predict that Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake
would find himself president on September 9.
the debate regarding the accuracy and efficacy of
astrology is age old the CID came out strongly in
support of the prophetic powers of the stars, and
detained Bandara on the grounds that his prediction
presented a grave threat to the safety of the President,
whose current terms extends into 2010.
astrologer was detained and questioned at length in
order to ascertain whether or not the stars had given
him special knowledge of a conspiracy against the
Colombo court however came down firmly on the side of
rationalism and found Bandara' s predictions did not in
fact pose a threat to the safety of thePresident. While
the debate regarding the credibility of astrology is as
yet unresolved Bandara is now free, presumably to make
any predictions he wants. Though it is likely that even
the stars might be persuaded to adopt a measure of self
censorship in future.
Sharp decline in tea production
By Arthur Wamanan
production has recorded a decline of 35%-40% when
compared with the corresponding period last year,
according to experts in the trade.
trade expert and Managing Director, Elpitiya Plantations
(Pvt.) Limited, Dr. Rohan Fernando told The Sunday
Leader that the trade experienced an unprecedented
drought in February and March. "Following this drought
just as the market was picking up, we were faced
thereafter with adverse rains in many places that
resulted in a decline in tea production again," Dr.
Fernando further said that although sales had increased
it was not sufficient to compensate the losses incurred
in tea production.
Ceylon Estate Workers' Union (ACEWU) Secretary, J.M.A.
Premaratne also reiterated that tea sales had improved.
kilo of tea was sold at Rs. 450 at the auction. This is
a big improvement considering the state we were in last
year," Premaratne said.
Premaratne however said not all issues had been
addressed. "The effect of the global economic recession
is still prevalent, although to a lesser extent. Around
20,000 to 30,000 persons have lost their jobs in the tea
and rubber sector. Several factories were closed and
they still have not opened. This has affected
production," Premaratne said.
Government tides over foreign
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
Economists say the government has managed to collect
sufficient dollars to ease the foreign reserves crisis
that existed several weeks back.
Economist Dr. Harsha de Silva said there has been a
change in the equation and there has been an increase in
the country's foreign reserves.
US$ 300-400 million brought by the Central Bank, the
increase in Treasury Bill purchases have brought in the
much-needed dollars, he said.
Silva also noted that the financial aid received by the
country to address the IDP issue and the development and
rehabilitation programmes have also helped increase the
country's foreign reserves.
question earlier was whether the government could
collect sufficient dollars to meet the country's
external debt obligations for this year. Whether we will
have to default on external loans is not a question any
more," he observed.
situation, he said is much better than it was two months
However, he pointed out that it is yet to be seen if the
government would be able to build on it with the right
ideology and bring about a 10% growth rate.
Central Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal meanwhile has said
there was no longer an urgency to receive the US$ 1.9
billion bailout package requested from the International
Monetary Fund (IMF)
said the IMF is not a "political institution."
the monetary authority of the world," Cabraal has said.
"I have had personal assurance from the managing
director of the IMF that it will be resolved.
it (the loan) come when it comes. Till it comes let us
manage it (the exchange rate) as it is being managed."
Finance Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama has also
reportedly said last Wednesday the IMF loan may be
approved in four to five weeks.
added the decision on Sri Lanka's loan application would
be a "test of the objectivity" of the lender.
However, according to IMF officials, the Executive Board
is yet to take the requested bail out package for
External Relations Director, Caroline Atkinson on
Thursday told a press briefing in Washington that the
finalisation of the programme would depend on the
approval of the Executive Board, which is yet to take up
"Discussions are continuing, and the finalisation of the
programme, as with any other programme, would of course
depend on the Executive Board. We don't have a date for
an Executive Board meeting at present on Sri Lanka,"
Atkinson has said.
Britain relaxes travel advisories
the improved security situation in the country Britain
has relaxed some of its travel restrictions to Sri
British High Commissioner, Dr. Peter Hayes announced
that in light of the improved security situation,
British tourists would no longer be dissuaded from
travelling to the Yala National Park for leopard
spotting, Arugam Bay for surfing, or visiting
Trincomalee, one of the world's deepest natural ports.
However the UK will continue to discourage British
tourists from travelling to other parts of the Eastern
Province, and further advised against all travel to the
north of Sri Lanka. This measure has been exercised due
to the fluidity of the security situation in areas still
recovering from the conflict, according to a news
release from the British High Commission.
Additionally, Singapore Airlines (SIA) plans to begin
night flights to Colombo. This too is due to the
improved security situation following the resolution of
the conflict, says SIA's Sri Lankan General Manager.
From August 2, flight SQ 468 will leave Singapore at
22:40 p.m and arrive in Colombo at 23:50 p.m. The
retimed SQ 469 flight will leave Colombo at 01:05 a.m
and arrive in Singapore at 07:40 am, on August 3.
Currently, SIA departs from Singapore at 10:40 a.m and
arrives at 11:50 Sri Lankan time, while departing from
Colombo at 13:05 p.m and arriving in Singapore at 19:40
p.m. SIA's General Manager pointed out that there is a
higher demand for night flights following the reduction
in security risks. However, factors such as the economic
recession and the AH1N1 flu are being taken into
consideration before a decision can be made as to
whether to increase the daily flights out of Colombo.
Murder suspect found dead
By Raisa Wickrematunge
primary suspect in a murder investigation was found dead
on Friday (3). His body was found with his throat cut
using a sharp weapon.
year old man was the main suspect in the killing of
three family members in Horana. The victims were 55 year
old R.P. Nimalasiri, S. Malkanthi, also 55,and their 25
year old daughter, R.P. Inoka. It was reported that the
family were well to do farmers.
Spokesman SSP Ranjith Gunasekara said that the man had
been accused of raping the 25 year old over 10 years
rape case was pending when the family was found chopped
to death on June 30. In fact the case was to be heard
the next day - July 1. Police had visited the suspect's
house and had found him missing, arousing their
suspicions. It was reported that police were confident
of making an arrest by the next day.
However, Gunasekara said someone else had murdered the
suspect before police could apprehend and question him.
Gunasekara said that police had no leads into the
killing as yet, and were awaiting the medical report. He
observed that the man had cut marks on his throat.
Clarification by Chairman,
Re: Letter to the Editor 'Concerns of the British High
refer to the letter sent by Mr. S .Stanley Fernando of
Moratuwa, which was published in your esteemed newspaper
on June 28, 2009 with the caption 'Concerns of the
British High Commissioner.'
article refers to a discussion I had with the High
Commissioner of the UK in Sri Lanka regarding the travel
advisory issued by his country on Sri Lanka.
admitting that such a discussion took place several
weeks ago, I wish to categorically state that at no
stage did the High Commissioner make reference to 'The
LTTE's global empire of sleeping terrorist cadres and
Tiger fugitive Kumaran Pathmanathan's ascent as the new
terrorist leader despite the destruction of the LTTE in
the Wanni are the main concerns that prevent Britain
from removing its Travel Advisory that tells Brits not
to travel to Sri Lanka" as stated in Mr. Fernando's
be grateful if my response is given due publicity in
your esteemed newspaper.
Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism