Connect with us

News

Rajapaksa officials linked to Easter Sunday bombs – Report

Published

on

Sri Lankan officials loyal to the Rajapaksa family were complicit in the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings that killed more than 250 people, including eight British tourists, whistleblowers have alleged.

One highly placed insider claims in an interview with Dispatches, to be aired in the UK on Channel 4 tomorrow, that he set up a 2018 meeting between a senior military intelligence official, Suresh Salley, and Islamic State-affiliated bombers to hatch a plot to destabilise Sri Lanka and facilitate the Rajapaksas’ return to power.

“The meeting finished, Suresh Salley came to me and told me the Rajapaksas need an unsafe situation in Sri Lanka, that’s the only way for Gotabaya to become president,” Hanzeer Azad Maulana, the whistleblower, claims. “The attack was not a plan made in just one or two days, the plan was two, three years in the making.”

Salley was promoted to head of military intelligence when Gotabaya Rajapaksa won power on a promise to restore security six months after the Easter Sunday attack.

He previously served as defence minister under his brother, the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa. They were jointly credited with crushing the Tamil Tiger insurgency but lost power in 2015, and later faced investigations into extra-judicial killings, human rights abuses and large-scale corruption during their time in government.

The alleged involvement of the powerful Rajapaksa family in the attacks has long been rumoured in Sri Lanka but the documentary, made by Basement Films, founded by the former Channel 4 News editor Ben de Pear, marks the first time high-level whistleblowers have spoken about the alleged connections with the bombers. Gotabaya was forced from power last year amid a popular uprising over Sri Lanka’s economic collapse.

Maulana fled Sri Lanka last year and has presented his testimony to European intelligence agencies and the United Nations. They are treating his claims as credible and investigating.

Of the Easter Sunday dead, 43 were foreign tourists, including many children. A British man, Ben Nicholson, survived but lost his wife and two children. Anders Holch Povlsen, the Danish billionaire who owns a majority share in the clothing giant Asos and is the UK’s largest private landowner, and his wife, Anne, lost three of their four children.

A second whistleblower, an unnamed senior government official, backed Maulana’s account of Salley’s ties to the bombers and claimed that military intelligence repeatedly thwarted police investigations, before and after the bombings. “When this regime came to power in 2019, all officers connected to the investigation were transferred out, the investigation was completely,” the official says.

Documents obtained by Channel 4 also appear to show several false leads presented by military intelligence to throw police off the Isis cell’s trail before the bombings. Other documents show that Indian intelligence warned Sri Lanka two weeks before the bombings that the Isis cell was planning to attack Catholic churches. The warning was not acted upon.

When a presidential report into the bombings was concluded in 2021 Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the president at the time, refused to release it.

The Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, appealed to the Pope, who called last year for an independent investigation into the attacks.

Maulana’s testimony is particularly striking because of claims to have connected the bombers with Salley. Lawyers who have brought legal action in London for the families of the victims said his account would be of interest to anyone seeking redress in jurisdictions outside Sri Lanka as well as within.

Maulana served for years as an aide to Pillayan, a politician loyal to the Rajapaksas, who met the bombers while he was in prison facing charges of the murder of a political opponent. Maulana claimed Pillayan immediately saw the utility of extremists only interested in “death, death, death”.

Maulana claims Pillayan and Salley engineered their release from prison before he arranged for Salley to meet them. “We can use them, they are not interested in anything in the world,” Maulana quoted Pillayan as saying.

Maulana also claimed to receive a call from Salley on the morning of the bombings asking him to go to the Taj Samudra hotel in Colombo and collect one of the men, but he was unable to do so. CCTV shows one of the bombers receiving a call inside the Indian-owned hotel before leaving suddenly. Hours later, he detonated explosives inside a smaller Colombo hotel.

In a letter to Channel 4, Salley 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. “I have no connection whatsoever in the Easter Bombing,” he wrote.

Neither Pillayan nor the Rajapaksa family responded to Channel 4’s requests for comment.

(thetimes.co.uk)

News

Expressways generate whopping income during Avurudu season

Published

on

By

The expressways have generated an income of Rs. 159,802,950 from April 10 – 13, Road Development Authority (RDA) says.

According to the Director of Expressway Operation Maintenance and Management Division – R.A.D. Kahatapitiya.

Over 4,350,000 vehicles have used the expressways during this period, he has added.
As many as 366,000 vehicles have used the expressways during this three-day period.

Continue Reading

News

Special transport arrangements to those returning to Colombo

Published

on

By

Special train services are in operation from this evening (April 14) for people to return to Colombo after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year holidays, the Railways Department said.

Deputy General Manager of Sri Lanka Railways –  N.J. Indipolage stated that accordingly, eight additional train journeys will be in operation from Badulla, Galle and Beliatta railway stations to Colombo Fort.

The Department of Railways also mentioned that the office trains will be operational as per usual from April 16.

Meanwhile, the National Transport Commission has said that special buses will be deployed to transport those who had gone to their hometowns during the New Year.
Bus associations have also stated that buses to Colombo will be operational.

Continue Reading

News

Local multi-day fishing trawler seized with ICE & heroin worth over Rs. 3798 Mn.

Published

on

By

In another successful intelligence operation of the Sri Lanka Navy, a local multi-day fishing trawler (01) carrying a large haul of narcotics, with 06 suspects aboard, were intercepted about 133 nautical miles (about 246 km) off Dondra, south of Sri Lanka. 

The operation also resulted in the seizure of another local one-day fishing trawler (01) with 04 suspects, believed to have been there to fetch the consignment of narcotics mid-sea. The operation was mounted by deploying Sri Lanka Coast Guard Ship (SLCG) Samudraraksha which made the apprehension on 12th April 2024.

 The haul of narcotics included about 179kg and 906g of crystal methamphetamine (Ice) and about 83kg and 582g of heroin (with their packages). The Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera arrived at the Galle Harbour on 13th April to inspect the consignment of narcotics held in this operation.
The Sri Lanka Navy and Coast Guard regularly patrol and conduct search operations along the island’s coast to prevent illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, stemming via sea routes.

During this dedicated operation based on naval intelligence, a suspicious multi-day fishing trawler, which was about 133 nautical miles (246 km) off the south coast of the island, was intercepted and searched by SLCG Samudraraksha. As the fishing trawler was suspected of smuggling a haul of crystal methamphetamine and heroin in 17 sacks, during the search, the narcotic-carrying trawler was held on 12th April, with 06 suspects aboard.

Additionally, SLCG Samudraraksha inspected another local one-day fishing trawler, which was plying suspiciously in the sea area. During the inspection, 04 suspects were apprehended, along with the trawler, on suspicion of attempting to exchange narcotics with the multi-day trawler previously seized.

Following a thorough search of the suspicious multi-day fishing trawler at the Galle Harbour on 13th April, authorities recovered 17 sacks containing crystal methamphetamine and heroin. The haul of crystal methamphetamine, weighing about 179kg and 906g (including packages), were in 129 packages, stuffed in 13 sacks and the stash of heroin, weighing about 83kg and 582g (including packages), were in 76 packages, contained in 04 sacks. The consignment of narcotics, along with the 06 suspects and the multi-day fishing trawler was handed over to the Police Narcotic Bureau (PNB) for onward legal action.

Moreover, the 04 individuals, along with the one-day fishing trawler, which were seized on suspicion of being involved in a drug exchange at sea, were also handed over to PNB for further legal action.

The individuals held in the operation are known to reside in the Weligama, Imaduwa, and Galle areas, ranging in age from 23 to 54 years old. Meanwhile, the gross street value of the consignment of drugs seized during this operation is believed to be more than Rs. 3798 million.

Including the recent confiscation, the Sri Lanka Navy has held drugs with a gross street value of over Rs. 9300 million during operations mounted so far in 2024. The Sri Lanka Navy – the country’s first line of defence is committed to coordinating with other law enforcement authorities, to carry out anti-drug operations of this nature in order to foil drug smuggling attempts being made in the guise of fishing.

(navy.lk)

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2023 Sri Lanka Mirror. All Rights Reserved