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Parliamentary panel to be appointed over Channel 4 claims

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Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers has decided to appoint a special parliamentary committee to look into the Channel 4 documentary claim that the current intelligence chief Suresh Sallay was complicit in the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings, Labour Minister Manusha Nanayakkara said.

Major General Sallay hatched the plot while working for the directorate of military intelligence with the objective of creating instability to clear the way for Rajapaksas to return to power, The Times newspaper said on Monday, based on the UK-based Channel 4 documentary.

“As a responsible government, yesterday the cabinet decided on this and there will be an announcement on a special parliamentary committee,” Nanayakkara told the parliament when the opposition questioned about the latest Channel 4 documentary.

“In addition to this, internationally, if any investigations are required, the cabinet discussed yesterday to go ahead with it. We will not hesitate to act on this.”

However, he said such videos by Channel 4 have been released in the past to make Sri Lanka’s human rights position at United Nations sessions worse.

“What is clear is that whenever the Geneva Human Rights Council is scheduled to meet, videos like this are brought in, continuously,” he said.

“We have to analyse the evidence presented in this video. We won’t hesitate to act on it or discuss it.”

Analysts have said the carnage clearly favoured Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s election in November. Rajapaksa expressed his willingness to contest in the presidency within five days of the Easter bombing.

Sallay was promoted as head of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) no sooner Gotabaya Rajapaksa came to power in November 2019. He was given a one-year service extension by President Ranil Wickremesinghe recently.

Islamic extremists set off suicide bombings at two Catholic churches, a Christian church and three luxury hotels. The attacks were later claimed by the Islamic State group.

In the Channel 4 video, a whistle blower who has already left the country identified as Azad Maulana, a former top aide of current minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan, had spoken of Sallay planning the attacks for about three years.

There was no immediate official response from Sallay or the SIS.

Sri Lankan authorities failed to act on warnings issued by an intelligence agency in neighbouring India 17 days before the coordinated suicide bombings, according to several investigations into the attacks.

Accusations of the involvement of Sri Lankan intelligence operatives has already been reported to courts. However, this is the first time Sallay is directly accused of plotting the attacks.

Sri Lanka’s weekly newspaper, The Sunday Times said, in a letter to Channel 4, Sallay called the allegations “outright false” and denied any contact with the individuals who spoke to the film-makers.

“He said he was not in Sri Lanka on the dates the alleged contact with the bombers was made.”

(economynext.com)

(Except for the headline, this story, originally published by economynext.comhas not been edited by SLM staff)

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French ambassador in SL, passes away

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The French Ambassador for Sri Lanka and Maldives Jean-François Pactet has passed away today (May 26).

According to the police, the ambassador has passed away at his official residence.

He was 53 years old.He has served as the Ambassador in Sri Lanka since October 2022.

A career diplomat, Pactet was previously Deputy Director of Culture and Education in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

From 2016 to 2019, Jean-François Pactet was in charge of the Ministry’s policy regarding global health, gender equality and education, and supervised French contributions to multilateral funds in these areas.

Prior to this, Jean-François Pactet has been posted at the French Embassy to the United States in Washington (2012-2016) and at the French Permanent Representation to NATO in Brussels. 

He was also a Deputy Spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Veteran singer and musician Ananda Perera passes away

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Renowned singer and musician Ananda Perera has passed away at the age of 67.

Family sources confirmed that he died while receiving treatment at a hospital in Kandy.

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Tea represents harmony, social inclusivity, says China – SL reps. to UN (Video)

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Tea as a popular drink shared by multiple countries around the world stands for harmony, diversity and social inclusivity, said representatives both of China and Sri Lanka to the United Nations at a ceremony held in the United Nations headquarter in New York on Tuesday.

The event themed “Tea for Harmony” was held to celebrate the International Tea Day, which also fell on Tuesday with a nod to China’s centuries-old tea traditions. It is co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of China to the UN and China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

“For thousands of years, tea has traveled along the Silk Road and the maritime routes to reach people around the world. Tea cultures from various countries, while sharing the same roots, have deeply integrated with their own customs and traditions. Just like this year’s theme ‘Tea for Harmony’ suggests, tea has indeed played an important role in promoting harmony within diversity,” said Dai Bing, China’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN.

In his opening speech, Mohan Peiris, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to UN, noted that tea functions as a means to bring people together for a casual chat, and thus helps to encourage social interaction and stands for inclusivity.

“Drinking tea promotes social interaction. Sharing tea provides an opportunity for individuals to come together. And that’s something we do here in the delegates lounge. It facilitates conversation. Let’s have a chat over a cup of tea. It encourages inclusivity. Community drinking can bring people together. Well, it also fosters equal footing. The very act of sharing a cup of tea is typically egalitarian. It’s big,” he said.

Products from Xinyang, a well-known tea-producing region in central China’s Henan Province, were highlighted at the event, with tea masters making drink with Xinyang Maojian, a widely welcomed local green tea at the scene.

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