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Sunday July 15th, 2007

LTTE tries to target Trinco, other key installations
Red alert

The security cordon in Colombo and other parts of the country has been strengthened after the LTTE on Thursday for the first time openly vowed to hit major economic and military targets in Sri Lanka.
The security boost comes amidst intelligence reports that the LTTE is planning to launch air strikes in Trincomalee and Colombo after the security forces captured Thoppigala on Wednesday, sources told The Nation yesterday.
“Defence authorities are on high alert and are not taking any chances,” highly placed sources said.

Government to take fresh peace plans to India
The government is contemplating on a negotiated settlement to the ethnic conflict after they consolidate themselves in the East.
Government sources told The Nation that President Mahinda Rajapaksa is awaiting the final outcome of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) report to send a high-powered delegation to India to brief them on Sri Lanka’s latest peace plans.

 

The march that commenced in Mavil Aru last year ended last Wednesday with the capture of Thoppigala by the security forces, marking the end of a campaign to liberate the Eastern Province. Here the army’s elite Commandos ascended the cap shaped mountain, Baron’s Cap, to hoist the flag of the nation and that of their regiment (Pic by Ishara S. Kodikara)

 


German Embassy says–
‘Minister’s utterance fabricated’

Highways Minister and Chief Government Whip Jeyaraj Fernandopulle dropped another bombshell yesterday, accusing German Ambassador in Colombo Jurgen Weerth of being guilty of tarnishing the image of the country and further warned...

Fowzie to shift loyalties?
Speculation is rife that Petroleum Minister A. H. M. Fowzie and his son Nauzer Fowzie are planning to join the United National Party (UNP) soon.

Gallantry medals for armed forces
The government is seriously contemplating decorating all military officials who took part in the successful Thoppigala and eastern liberation offensive.

 

 

NEWS

Maldives to send four Tigers for Colombo trial
Four Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadres who are currently in a Maldivian jail, caught while smuggling weapons to Sri Lanka in a hijacked Indian trawler, will be sent to Sri Lanka to stand trial as terrorists soon.
Maldivian Foreign Minister Dr. Shaheed announced that he would not stand in the way of transferring the LTTE cadres jailed for smuggling guns through Maldivian waters, also to stand trial in Colombo on additional charges of terrorism under Sri Lankan law.
The Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Male, Mohamed Farooq has confirmed to a Maldivian news agency that he has had successful talks with the Maldivian Foreign Minister about the transfer of the prisoners and the Maldivian Foreign Minister has indicated that he would not stand in the way of a transfer of the terrorists to face a trial in Colombo.
Both men have played down the concerns of some pro-Tiger NGO’s that the LTTE prisoners’ lives would be at risk in a Sri Lankan jail.
During a six week investigation, according to the Maldivian Foreign Ministry officials, the four cadres confessed they were men of the LTTE. In early July they also pleaded, according to Maldivian authorities, guilty of gun running in the Maldivian waters. A Maldivian court sentenced them to a jail term of 15 years.
At first the Maldivian authorities were reluctant to extradite them to Sri Lanka. But later, following discussions between the two governments, Maldives reportedly changed view.
The Sri Lanka High Commissioner in Male, Farooq has said, “If we find they intended to commit terrorist acts in our country, we have the right to charge them with further crimes.”
Farooq, denying the charge that they would be tortured, said there were many LTTE inmates in Sri Lankan jails and none of them had been harmed.

London permits pro-LTTE group rally at Trafalgar Square
The Greater London Authority (GLA) has granted permission to an alleged pro-LTTE organisation, the British Tamil Councillors and Associates, to hold a rally in Trafalgar Square to protest against human rights violations against Tamils in Sri Lanka.
The rally was scheduled to take place last afternoon, amidst much protest by mainly Sri Lankans living in the UK who have pointed out that the GLA’s decision to grant authorisation to a pro-LTTE organisation to hold a rally in London was against the law as the LTTE was a banned organistaion in UK.
“The GLA is granting permission to the rally and is making it a condition in its permissions to the organisers that there will be no promotion of the LTTE on stage (including banners) or through the rally programme and that the focus of the rally is a peaceful protest regarding human rights issues in Sri Lanka,” the authority’s Public Liaison Unit stated.
The GLA also claimed that the police have confirmed that the British Tamil Councillors and Associates is not a proscribed group under The Terrorism Act 2000 and have no specific intelligence at this time to suggest the event would be disorderly. “The police have confirmed that if the GLA grant permission that they will provide a proportionate level of policing and deal with any offences, which may come to light, as with any community event in Trafalgar Square. There is, therefore, no basis to refuse permission for such a rally,” GLA added.

Concern mounts over recent LTTE threats
Authorities are concerned over the statement made by LTTE Political Wing Leader S.P. Thamilselvan that the LTTE would attack military installations and key economic centres. Highly placed security forces said yesterday that this is the first time that the LTTE had openly announced that it would take military and economic targets. It is normal for the LTTE to channel its announcement through the Norwegian facilitators but in this case it has not said anything of that sort to Norwegian Ambassador Hans Brattskar who went to Kilinochchi on a farewell call mid last week. Brattskar had not been able to meet with LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran during his visit.

JVP wants debate on Thoppigala
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has written to Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara seeking a debate on the Thoppigala capture.
In a letter to the Speaker, JVP Propaganda Secretary Wimal Weerawansa has requested a full day debate on the topic during the impending parliamentary week beginning Tuesday.
“The security forces have cleared the LTTE from the Eastern Province, and they should be congratulated on their feat,” Weerawansa stated in his letter.

TNA briefs international community
A Tamil National Alliance (TNA) delegation led by its Parliamentary Group Leader R. Sampanthan is currently on an European tour to brief the international community about the present political situation in the country.
The TNA team comprising Parliamentarians Suresh Premachandran, S. Adaikalanathan, Gajen Ponnambalam and S. Senadhirajah left the island last week and are expected to return next month, a TNA spokesman said.
According to the spokesman their mission was to bring to the attention of the European countries the plight of the Tamils and the ongoing violation of human rights in Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile TNA Parliamentarian N. Srikantha told The Nation that the objective of the visit was to get the international community to mount pressure on the government.
He said though the government was in a jubilant mood to celebrate the victory of Thoppigala, the Tamils were silently suffering.
He said the Thoppigala intrusion by the armed forces further complicated the already complex situation in the country.
He said if the government genuinely wanted to resume talks, then it should honour the Ceasefire Agreement.
He said if there was any willingness to honour the CFA then the government would also have to strictly honour all the clauses enshrined in the CFA.

SC drafting new circular on Grade 1 admissions
The Supreme Court is considering to draft new circular on guidelines for the admissions to Grade 1 children to national schools of the country, because the court disagreed with guidelines submitted by the Secretary to the President.
The Nation learns that the court is seeking to consider the views and proposals of parents, past pupils’ organisation, educationists, teachers and other interested parties before formulating the guidelines.
In order to give them an opportunity to submit their views and proposals, Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva has directed Supreme Court Registar to mention the relevant fundamental right application before the court on July 19.
When the Fundamental Rights Application filed by a parent who failed with the admission of his child to Ambalangoda Dharmasoka College came before court, it issued an interim order to cancel the existing guidelines and directed to forward new guidelines.
Following this direction President’s Secretary Lalith Weeratunga forwarded new draft guidelines to the court.
The Nation learns the new guidelines were also very similar to guidelines cancelled by the court, and deleted the marking scheme which court considered to be very important.
Supreme Court is of the view that without the marking scheme, the guidelines empower to use the discretion of the principals and education officers, thus paving the way for corruption.

Top team leaves today to plea for Rizana
A high level Sri Lanka delegation headed by Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Hussein Bhaila will leave for Riyadh today to meet top officials of the Saudi Arabian government and the family of the four-month old infant who was allegedly killed by a Sri Lankan housemaid Rizana Nafeek, currently on death row.
Nafeek’s parents and the high level delegation is scheduled to seek a pardon or plea against the ruling, at least for a lesser sentence taking into consideration the housemaid’s age as she was only 17 at the time she allegedly committed the crime two years ago. The government, it is learnt, has agreed to bear all travelling and other incidental costs of the parents.
It is also learnt that the delegation will be carrying a letter by President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressed to the King.
It is also learnt that the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh has signed an agreement on July 11 in Riyadh with the law firm, Kateb Fahad Al-Shammari to retain their services to file the judicial appeal against the death sentence imposed on Rizana Nafeek, by the Dawadami High Court last month.

 

 


 



POLITICS

The ‘liberation’ of Thoppigala
The word that reverberated throughout the country last week was Thoppigala, a stretch of much-coveted territory in the Eastern Province. As security forces wrested control of the region, the response of the rest of the country said much for its debates and divisions with regard to the ethnic conflict that has engulfed the nation.
It cannot be denied that parallel to the military operation to ‘liberate’ Thoppigala, there was another strategic war that was being fought in the state-run media houses in Colombo. The instructions were quite clear – portray the capture of Thoppigala as a significant military advance that has the potential to be the beginning of the end for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Hence the barrage of video footage in the electronic media, which captured for posterity the capture of Thoppigala.
Then came the congratulatory messages beginning with a brief but special announcement from the Commander-in-Chief himself, President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Even the likes of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) – which does not always see eye to eye with the government these days – joined in paying tribute to the war heroes.
The dissenting voices came first, understandably, from the LTTE, which described the event as a temporary retreat for strategic reasons. That was supplemented by a threat which the Tigers made no attempt to disguise – a warning that the terrorists would now focus their attention on vital economic targets.
The other to pooh-pooh the Thoppigala success was, predictably, United National Party (UNP) and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. Perhaps what Wickremesinghe meant to say was that capturing Thoppigala did not mean that the Eelam war was over, but given his penchant for expressing the correct sentiments in the worst possible way, he did not do himself any favours...

UNP ups the tempo as Govt. revels in Thoppigala victory
The main question that hangs over the government today is what would come next in the aftermath of the Thoppigala victory.
There is no doubt that the government is basking in the euphoria of the Thoppigala victory, which by all means is a significant achievement on the part of the country’s armed forces.
However, the government’s victory celebrations would not last long if it fails to address the other burning issues of the country effectively
Even as the government is patting itself on the back over the victory, the opposition parties are blaming the government for trying to push the burning problems faced by the people under the shadow of the Thoppigala military gain.
Phase II
Following the Thoppigala victory, the government is ready with an elaborate plan to develop the east, without which it would not be able to win the hearts and minds of the people. However, it is certain that the second phase of the government plan would be much more difficult than the military onslaught to secure the entire east.
If the government fails in its effort to develop the east and provide basic facilities for the people such as roads, basic healthcare, schools, etc., the objective of the military push becomes meaningless because the people, who have gone through sheer difficulties over a long period of time, would tend to drift towards the LTTE in desperation. Therefore, the task before the government is difficult and should be handled with utmost care.
Test the waters
Simultaneously, it is now time for the government to think of the referendum in the east in terms of the Indo-Lanka Accord signed in 1987 to determine the will of the people and to ascertain whether they would be willing to be part of north-east joint administration. This would be a good opportunity for the government to test the waters since India too is unhappy over the de-merger, which took place owing to a judicial decision.

NEWS FEATURES

The Bench, Bar & You
Retrospective legislation dealt with hijacking
Sepala Ekanayake created history by committing the criminal offence of hijacking an aircraft – in doing so he became the first Sri Lankan to hijack an aircraft. The plane belonged to a powerful country – Italy. Ekanayake was motivated to commit this criminal act by the love he had for his son and wife.
His action forced the government of Sri Lanka to pass retrospective legislation to take legal action against him. He was the first person to be tried under Act No. 24 of 1982 certified on July 26,1982.
The Italian government did make an application to Sri Lanka for the extradition of Ekanayake, but the application was refused due to a technical defect in the application. The members of the Parliament insisted that he should be tried by the courts of Sri Lanka.
The Italian government was more concerned with Ekanayake’s criminal activities when he threatened the crew of the Italian plane, held the passengers and crew as hostage and obtained a large sum of money as ransom from the Italian government.
Ekanayake committed this offence between June 29 and July 1, 1982. At that time there was no legislation to prosecute Ekanayake for the crime he committed.
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Bangkok gave an assurance to Ekanayake in Bangkok that he would not be arrested on his arrival to Sri Lanka and also assured him of safe flight to Sri Lanka.
The Ambassador had given this assurance after consultation with Colombo. Ekanayake had also undertaken to release the hostages when his demands were met. From July 1 to July 3 he was a free man but the government had to change this due to very important reasons, which would benefit the country.
After Ekanayake’s arrival in Colombo, the then Italian Ambassador Franco Micilli de Biase made a complaint to the police that Ekanayake retained stolen property belonging to the Italian government.
It was suggested that the International Federation of Pilots Association, International Private Passenger Carriers, International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and also the Indian government and other nations demand that the Sri Lankan Government should prosecute Ekanayake, and appropriate legislation should be introduced for the punishment of hijacking an aircraft.
The Italian Ambassador’s complaint was made after Ekanayake had banked a major part of the ransom money, US$ 280,000. He had deposited the sum at the Bank of Ceylon International Division.
Consequent to the Ambassador’s complaint, the police commenced investigations with regard to the retaining of stolen property under the Penal Code of the country.
If Ekanayake had not demanded ransom when he hijacked the plane, the police could not have commenced the investigation since, at that time, Sri Lanka lacked legislation to deal with hijacking of airplanes.

NEWSMAKERS:
Dr. JJ lost in his own importance

A medical officer by profession, he was elected to Parliament in 1994 on the UNP ticket. He was appointed Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Refugees Minister in 2002.
Target for extremists
Jayawardena claims that public accusations by his political opponents that he is an LTTE sympathiser having close links with them, has made him a target for assassination by nationalist groups. Recently he claimed that the police informed him of his life being in grave danger.
“Anura Senanayake of the Crimes Division told me that I’m a primary target of various extremist groups. This is the result of constant claims by the government and parties such as the JVP and the JHU, that I’m an LTTE agent. But, the government is not giving me adequate security.”
Dr. Jayawardane claims that this is not the first time the police has warned him of the risk.
“The police and the CID have acknowledged my claims twice in 2005 and 2007 but the government has turned a deaf ear. This is not the way the UNP behaved when we were in power.”
Dr. Jayawardane claims that the UNP in 2002, made security arrangements to safeguard the lives of opposition members who needed protection.

 

SPORTS

Murali completes 700 in 50th Test victory
Champion off-spinner Muttiah Muraliltharan grabbed his 20th match bag of ten wickets or more and became only the second bowler in Test history to capture 700 wickets when he bowled Sri Lanka to a comprehensive innings and 193-run victory over Bangladesh in the third and final cricket Test which ended at the Asgiriya International Cricket Stadium on Saturday. The win inside four days gave Sri Lanka their third whitewash of a Test nation and also their fiftieth win in 170 Test matches since 1982. They had earlier beaten Zimbabwe and West Indies at home by similar margins. After Sri Lanka had closed their innings at the overnight 500-4 with an imposing lead of 396, Muralitharan got to work on the hapless Bangladesh batsmen as he twirled his way to another six-wicket haul taking 6 for 54 to follow his first innings bag of six for 28. It was the 60th occasion he had taken a five-for in an innings. Bangladesh resisted with their first two wickets adding 123 before Muralitharan got into the act to sweep the rest of the batting under the carpet. Bangladesh was eventually all out for 176, eight minutes before tea. Only left-handed opener Shariar Nafees offered any kind of resistance batting as long as 161 minutes for 64 (9 fours).

Fingara Cricket Talent Search in Dambulla
Fingara International Cricket Academy (FICA) conducted its 4th cricket talent search among 22 schools in the North Central Province at the Rangiri Dambulu International Cricket Stadium recently. There were over 225 young cricketers from among schools in Dambulla, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Kekirawa, Thalawa, Eppawala, Yatiyalpathana, Palugaswewa, Thibbatuwawa, Bakamuna and Rattanakadawela who participated and immensely benefited from the coaching programme conducted by the team of FICA coaches headed by Hemantha Devapriya. Former Sri Lanka A player Sanjeewa Weerasinghe and former Sri Lanka schools under 19 Captain Malintha Gajanayake were among the cricketers who participated at the event and shared their experiences with the young cricketers. Cricket gear was presented to the respective schools, in addition to providing them with meals, refreshments and travelling charges. Deputy Chairman Mervyn Jayasinghe, Executive Director..

Point Blank
Striking a balance
There is certainly something wrong somewhere in the Future Test Program (FTP). Otherwise how can Sri Lanka find itself playing a full series of three Test matches against a weak country like Bangladesh and only two Tests against the best Test-playing nation Australia when they tour there in November? As much as divided opinion would suggest the more exposure that Bangladesh gets they are bound to improve, the same principles of justice could be applied to Sri Lanka who are striving to become the best Test-playing nation by displacing Australia from its pedestal. But a series of two Tests with Australia is certainly not going to help their cause at all. What Sri Lanka should be doing is reverse the roles and play two Tests with Bangladesh and three with Australia. That would be fair justice to any team vying for the top spot in the ICC Test cricket rankings.

INTERVIEWS

Kiriella challenges Rajapaksa to get into witness box
Q: The UNP has woken up from its slumber and is finally taking on the UPFA government over the alleged monetary deal with the LTTE. What is the truth behind this entire episode?
A:
Soon after the last presidential election, we suspected that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had some kind of a deal with the LTTE, but we had no proof. It was only a suspicion then. It was Sripathi Sooriyarachchi who first gave us evidence to establish the existence of this secret deal.
On April 5, he revealed in parliament that millions of rupees were paid to the LTTE before and after the presidential election. He said this was to prevent the people in the north east voting for the UNP and to ensure Rajapaksa’s victory.
Q: You have said that the party has obtained an affidavit from a person who happened to be the key witness to the deal. Can you name the person and disclose his identity if this is true?
A:
We can. But we will do it at the correct time. I could say with responsibility that we have affidavits from people who were there when the transaction took place before the election. We also have documentary evidence of the monies that were paid after the election, with both transactions running into millions.
Q: An affidavit, according to the law, is not an authentic document to establish any truth even before a court of law. Do you, as a lawyer, think the government could be taken to task with such a document?
A:
That is why we have asked for a select committee. In other countries the established practice is to appoint a select committee when incidents of this nature are revealed in parliament.
For example, we have the Committee on Public Enterprises.

“All legacies must end” – Anura
Q: How did your niece Yasodhara’s wedding in London go?
A:
The wedding went off very well. We had about 150 guests, most of them were English. My sister had invited only very few Sri Lankan friends in addition to Sunethra and I and it was very well done and was very elegant. There was no church ceremony or poruwa ceremony. She will be having the real homecoming here in Sri Lanka in September. They are looking for a place to have it. There will be about 3,000 guests, a hell of a lot for a wedding, so they are looking for a place. It will probably be at the BMICH.
Q: When is your sister, Chandrika Kumaratunga due in Sri Lanka?
A:
She is due next month – in August. She’s busy with this Clinton Foundation work. She is due to go to Mozambique within the next few days on assignment and from there she will come here.
Q: Do you think that after her daughter’s reception is over, she may explore the possibility of getting back into the political groove, even in some small way?
A:
Well at the moment, she is not interested in getting involved in politics. She is very keenly watching the situation and she is very strong in her views about what’s going on. But apart from that she has no plans to enter politics immediately. She may do so later on.
Q: How do you think she feels about the invitation extended to her by former Minister Mangala Samaraweera to come back and save the SLFP?
A:
Well, Mangala has asked her to do that. If she gets involved in politics at all, she might become the catalyst for a joint national government. The SLFP, the UNP – not only parts of the UNP like today but the entire party – then the SLMC and CWC. She doesn’t want to hold office however, so she may only play the role of a catalyst.

Flying high
Q: The entire East has been secured. The three armed forces have worked in tandem. As the Air Force Commander, in your view, what is the secret for greater cooperation among the three forces?
A:
The Commanders of the Army, the Navy and I, have all been around for a very long time. All three of us are veterans of this war. We know the weaknesses and strengths of the enemy, as we give leadership to our forces. We also work as a team, knowing the importance of joint operations.
We knew we had a job to do. To be effective, we knew that each has to play its part and support the overall objective.
The common goal was to finish this war as quickly as possible and rid the people of this burden. We know that the country has tremendous potential. We have to finish this war, for the government to take over and negotiate a solution.
From the inception, each of the forces prevented the LTTE from calling the shots. In the sea, the Navy made a invaluable contribution. The Army carried out their operations successfully, according to a plan. As for the SLAF, I could say it played its part; the pilots were accurate, the air traffic controllers, those handling ground operations and special operations and those handling ground security, all contributed towards our success.



 
 

Colombo

 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

 
       
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