Parliament | Daily News


2019 Easter Attacks:

Prosecution process a meticulous one that requires more time: Dr. Weerasekara


It would take time to bring the perpetrators of the 2019 Easter attacks to justice, as the prosecution process needs to be carried out in a meticulous manner, Public Security Minister Rear Admiral (Rtd.) Dr. Sarath Weerasekara said in Parliament yesterday.

He noted that the government vows to never allow terrorism and extremism to resurface in the country again. He also assured that the government would bring the perpetrators of the Easter attacks to justice. The minister said that the CID is working together with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Australian Federal Police for the purpose.

He noted that international investigations generally take time, adding that the mastermind of the 2001 September 11 attacks in the US, Kaleed Sheik Mohammed, is still in custody without charges being filed so far. He also cited the Rajiv Gandhi and Lakshman Kadirgamar assassination cases, adding that filing charges against the perpetrators took years. He said these cases needed to be meticulously filed to ensure that these perpetrators were not given the chance to creep through minor loopholes in the law.

The minister said, “A case has been filed in the Kegalle High Court against 16 suspects in the destruction of Buddha statues in Mawanella. Six suspects have been charged in the Puttalam High Court in connection with the discovery of explosives at the Lactose Estate in Wanathawilluwa. A case has been filed in the Kegalle High Court against three suspects in connection with the attempted murder of Mawanella’s Mohamed Tasleen. The Kandy High Court has filed a case against the suspect Mohideen Iksan Amahad for obtaining weapons training in Aruppola.”

“The suspect Imath Iddisam Pakir has already been charged in the Gampaha High Court for aiding and abetting terrorist activities. A case has been filed in the Kurunegala High Court against suspects Mohammad Naufer and Mohammad Yusri for aiding and abetting terrorist activities. Attorney-at-Law Pijas Hezbollah and another suspect have been charged in the Puttalam High Court for aiding and abetting terrorist activities. A case has been filed in the Colombo High Court against the former IGP and the former Defence Secretary for aiding and abetting criminal activities through negligence,” he said.

“The report of the Presidential Commission was submitted to the Attorney-General in February, this year. Afterwards, 54 police officers with a team of lawyers from the Attorney-General’s Department, led by a Senior Deputy Solicitor-General, conducted an in-depth study of this evidence. This was overseen by the Attorney-General. While doing so, certain shortcomings arose. Some witnesses may need additional evidence. Details of telephone numbers are required and additional Government Analyst reports were required. A report summarising this flawed evidence was handed over to the police on April 24 for immediate action,” he added.

Minister Weerasekara noted that the Attorney-General had handed over the report given to them on April 24 to the IGP on May 12. By that time, the police had completed most of the shortcomings and sent them to the Attorney-General’s Department. The remaining shortcomings are expected to be addressed in the near future, he said, adding that once all these shortcomings are rectified, the Attorney-General could take legal action against the accused.

“The Attorney-General’s Coordinating Officer has already submitted the excerpt files to the Attorney-General on May 17, 2021 regarding four of the five suspects. That is, the excerpt files of Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Waqar Younis, Shaul Hameed, and Mohammad Fazan, have already been sent. Investigations are currently underway regarding Mohamed Azim, who was arrested on March 21. The police have arrested 704 suspects and, of them, 203 are in remand custody, while 84 are on detention orders. There are 244 on bail, while 168 have been released and 32 have been indicted,” Weerasekara said.

Referring to Mohammad Naufer Moulavi, Minister Weerasekara said that according to the joint investigations, it is clear that Naufar Moulavi was the mastermind of this attack. “He was the one who brought the IS ideology to Sri Lanka and directed Zaharan to that ideology in 2016. This is also confirmed by Zaharan’s wife, Sadia. He was the one who handled the entire IS training course; his books and laptops prove it. He prepared the entire syllabus.

“Naufer Moulavi supervised the training camps in Nuwara Eliya and Hambantota. He married off his wife’s sister to Zaharan. They studied at the same Madrasa School, the Sala Madrasa School, and served as Naufer Saharan’s senior. Naufer played a key role in the Darul Adal organisation, which also included Zaharan,” he said, adding that the FBI has confirmed that Naufer was a key figure in the attack.

The minister said that information has come to light that several foreigners were involved in the Easter Sunday attacks, and that an Australian national of Sri Lankan origin, Luqman Talib, has already been arrested in Qatar. Weerasekara also revealed that there is information that four Maldivian nationals were also involved in this terrorist attack.



War Heroes must be held in the highest regard: Field Marshal Fonseka


Marking National War Heroes’ Day, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka said in Parliament yesterday that War Heroes who sacrificed their lives for national security, peace, as well as economic and political stability, should be held in the highest regard.

He said, “It was on May 10, 2009, that we saw the end of LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. On May 18, our country was liberated from the terrorists who were engaged in the North and the East. I consider it the greatest privilege of my life to have led the Sri Lankan Army of 200,000 soldiers, which made the greatest sacrifices to end terrorism in that final battle against the LTTE.”

“President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was the then Secretary of Defence, as well as Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was then the President, should be honoured for fighting the war alongside us. Meanwhile, I would also like to pay tribute to the Navy, Air Force, the Police Department, and the Civil Defence Force, who also supported the victory of the Army,” he added.

Fonseka said, “Our great War Heroes of all ranks fought 24 hours a day for two years and nine months at the cost of their lives during this final stage of the battle. Fifty Naval war heroes, eight Air Force war heroes, and 30 police and Civil Defence personnel each sacrificed their lives in the Fourth Eelam War. They deserve our highest respect.”

“In the last battle I commanded, 5,200 brave War Heroes were killed, 3,000 were permanently disabled, and 19,000 were wounded on the battlefield. Thus, you can understand the greatness of the sacrifices they made. I do not hesitate to offer my utmost respect to them and their families and relatives,” he added.

“We performed this duty of bringing peace to the nation, to provide equality and security to the people of the North and the East. I am sorry that some members of this House spoke about the LTTE; none of these MPs fought or stood up for the Tamil community. I would like to remind them that they were able to come to this House democratically and engage in politics because of the victory given by our War Heroes,” Fonseka also said.


Sajith calls for ‘maximum relief’ for War Heroes


Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa yesterday paid respects to fallen War Heroes for strengthening the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the country.

Commemorating the National War Heroes’ Day, Premadasa said, “We must provide the maximum relief, care, and assistance to our disabled War Heroes, as well as the widows/widowers of our fallen War Heroes. We will extend our support to the Prime Minister to implement the promises made for the war heroes, if a supplementary estimate is presented.”

“War Heroes sacrificed their lives to bring lasting peace to this country. I request that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution be maintained, as listening to other communities in the country will make this peace sustainable,” he added.



Port City Bill has potential for investment surge in SL: Cabraal

The Port City Project has the potential to give the investment surge the country needs to improve its economy, Money and Capital Market State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal said. He was speaking at the debate on the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill in Parliament, yesterday.

The state minister said, “As far as the Port City Law is concerned, it must be very clearly established. Since 2015, there has been a constant deterioration of our economy. From 2006 to 2014, the GDP of our country improved significantly, and by 2014, we had around 79 billion dollar worth GDP. After 2014, it hit a stagnant patch, and our economy was in the same position for the past five years.

“We had a rising debt situation within this period, as well as a drop in the GDP and world economic business rankings during. It is time that we do something about this. Our reserves have gone low and our currency has depreciated. We need a new impetus for our economy to move forward. We have fixed a number of economic problems created during the previous regime. For example, the interest rates are now more manageable, slowing down the rupee depreciation.”

He said, “After the impact of COVID-19 on the economy subdues, we can get it up and running better. We have spent Rs.138 billion to counter the pandemic. While doing that, we are fast-tracking development projects that were lagging behind during the previous government. The government is also investing in public development projects with the hope that Sri Lanka will get back on the fast track of development.

“We need a new economic burst of at least USD 3 billion to come into the country on an annual basis. It will ensure that we maintain a growth rate of 6% in the country. The Port City is a development project that has the potential to give us that necessary burst in investments.”


Opposition maintains double standards: Gammanpila


The Opposition is maintaining double standards based on the power it has right now, Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila said. He was speaking at the debate on the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill in Parliament, yesterday.

He said, “When Parliament was dissolved and the country was locked down during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, they wanted to resume Parliament as they had the majority of the seats. Now, however, they want Parliament to be closed due to the pandemic as the government has the majority.”

The minister said that the Port City Project is very important to attract foreign funds to face the pandemic with a stable economy. He pointed out that the country has to spend a lot in its fight against the virus. He added that if the Sri Lankan Rupee depreciated any further, they would have to spend even more. Hence, he said that it was important to commence development projects in the country.

The minister added that the Supreme Court suggested that when amendments are made to the Bill, it could be passed with the simple majority. He added that hence, the concepts of the Bill did not contradict the Constitution, and the flaw was with the manner in which the Bill had been drafted. Hence, the government has decided to make all the amendments proposed by the Supreme Court.

“The Opposition has alleged that the Colombo Port City is a ‘Chinese colony’ or a ‘separate country’. I challenge them to prove it,” he said. The minister pointed out that as Sri Lanka failed to take its maximum benefit of its strategic location and set up a special economic zone, the Singapore and the Dubai optional centres were established. He added that Sri Lanka could resume economic growth with this construction.

Gammanpila said, “To stabilise the Sri Lankan Rupee, we need to bring in foreign funds. As of now, we have received USD 1.4 billion for this project.”

The minister further said that the country expects USD 15 billion in foreign investments through the project. The government would get 155 acres to lease and earn revenue as well. Another benefit is that 80,000 job opportunities would be created, as many other indirect jobs are to be created, he added.

Abeygunawardena urges SJB to assist Government in Port City Project


Ports and Shipping Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena urged the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) to assist the Colombo Port City Project as the UNP-led Oppositions has failed to support constructive moves. He was speaking at the debate on the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill in Parliament, yesterday.

Abeygunawardena said that the Parliament is capable of speaking of the Colombo Port City thanks to the construction of the 5.4km Breakwater for the Colombo Port during former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s tenure. He added that due to the same construction, the port got three terminals, including the East and West terminals.

“Thereafter, we commenced the construction of the Colombo Port City. In it, a Chinese company spent USD 1.4 billion, and we didn’t pay a penny. However, that amount was spent to buy our granite, transport, labour, and everything else. It was a strength to our people. It is acceptable that the JVP objected to this program. We can recall that Anura Kumara Dissanayake said at the outset that if this project commenced, all the granite in the country would be over,” he said.

“The Good Governance Government halted the project. We had a plan to divide the land in three equal parts: one to China, one to the Sri Lankan Government, and the other for common use.

“Then the Chinese Company attempted to sue the Sri Lankan Government after a three-year delay, and the Good Governance Government agreed to grant another 28 hectares to the Chinese Company,” he added.