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The Mahinda (Rajapakse )’connection’ and a multi million dollar deal

Mahinda ;the culprit

Damning documents and details have emerged to prove that the government has yet again moved to place the interests of President Mahinda Rajapakse’s family before the state and the public, in a well thought out move to persuade state telecom operator, SLT to shell out millions of rupees to yet another family company.

The shocking details will show that the family company was set up for the specific purpose of securing a multi-million dollar deal with SLT while withholding vital approvals from SLT to force it to go into business with the Rajapakse family business.

If ‘Helping Hambantota’ was the Rajapakse family’s proverbial baby’s first steps into the world of nepotism and family corruption, the facts exposed on this page show that the President’s kin are long past crawling: they are now fit to run a marathon. And it shows that the ‘Helping Hambantota’ scandal has not brought a blush of shame to the collective cheeks of the Rajapakse family.

‘Help yourself while the spoon is in your hand,’ it appears has become the motto of the Rajapakse administration.

Here are the facts.

The board of Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) of which the government has a majority stake, in its attempt to enter the WiMax broadband internet market, is this week slated to finalise the purchase of a 40% stake in privately owned Sky Network (Pvt) Ltd. The man behind Sky Network is none other than the nephew of President Rajapakse, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse, Senior Presidential Advisor, Basil Rajapakse and Ports and Aviation Minister, Chamal Rajapakse. That man is their sister’s son, Himal Laleendra Hettiarachchi.

The decision has come following repeated requests from SLT to the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission to issue WiMax frequencies to the state telecom giant. SLT’s application to the TRC for Wi-fi frequencies has been collecting dust at the commission for years now, whilst private operators, Dialog Telekom and Suntel have been granted frequencies and moved full speed ahead with their operations.

Application on hold

SLT applied for WiMax frequencies around two years ago, along with the other major mobile operators. Senior SLT officials have told The Sunday Leader that despite repeated reminders and requests the TRC never acted on the SLT WiMax request, despite serving other operators and even new entrants to the field.

Whilst waiting for the TRC to authorise its access to WiMax frequencies, SLT conducted the necessary field trials to launch the new broadband service. But alas, as of June 2007, SLT had still not heard anything positive from the TRC, and with competitors Dialog and Suntel moving rapidly to bring their service offerings to the market, the state dominated company was once again on the verge of missing the bus.

Then came the messiah, brought to SLT’s board of directors by Board Paper PLC/T/65/2007 tabled on June 29, 2007 by Japanese CEO, Shoji Takahashi and government appointed Chief Corporate Officer (CCO), Pat Abayasekara.

The two top officials revealed to the board that “Lyca Group in UK which is a virtual operator in UK has approached SLT for business through its 95% owned subsidiary, Sky Network, which has been given WiMax frequency to operate islandwide.” They highlighted that SLT was “considering an acquisition strategy as an option” to get into the WiMax market. (See box for full board paper)

What is so special about Sky Network Private Limited that they should be able to acquire facilities from TRC when they were not even operating in Sri Lanka where SLT as the pioneer and custodian of the state’s telecom infrastructure, failed?

Rs. 20 company

When Sky Network was incorporated on May 9, 2006, it was effectively a Rs.20 company, with two initial shareholders, holding a single Rs.10 share, each. They were Hettiarachchige Sirisena of Horana and one K.M.S. Bandara of 175/2, Old Kottawa Road, Mirihana, Nugegoda. Please note that Mirihana is the Rajapakse neighbourhood which also featured prominently in the ‘Helping Hambantota’ scandal. Practically the entire family have their houses in Mirihana.

This Nugegoda address also serves as the registered company address of Sky Network Private Limited. The two subscribers were the initial directors of the company, and an electrical engineer, Ajantha Karunadasa of Gangodawila, Nugegoda was appointed to the ‘board’ on May 24, 2006.

By March 2007, this shelf company had been able to accomplish what giant SLT could not, having secured three separate frequency reservations from TRC in the WiMax range, which would be assigned to them with an Internet Service Provider licence, subject to the submission of an accepted business plan.

Thus on March 15, 2007 some 950,000 shares were issued by the company to Hastings Trading E Services of Portugal, which is a subsidiary of the UK-based Lycatel pre-paid international calling card group. Two weeks later, on March 30, 2007, Karunadasa resigned from the board of Sky Network, and was replaced as a director on the same day by none other than Himal Laleendra Hettiarachchi whose address as per Form 48 is 175/2, Old Kottawa Road, Mirihana, Nugegoda.

Same address

Himal Hettiarachchi is the son of one of President Mahinda Rajapakse’s sisters. Despite his entry to the company only well after it was formed, his residential address being the same of Sky Network is also the same as one of the initial subscribers to the company, K.M.S. Bandara. It will be seen that Bandara was only a front man who was put in place till the groundwork was done so that no suspicions were raised at the outset of the game afoot.

The location of Hettiarachchi and Bandara’s residence – also the registered office of Sky Network – is symbolic. Going back to the days of ‘Helping Hambantota,’ many of the 30 something trustees to then Prime Minister Rajapakse’s famous Standard Chartered Bank account, Rajagiriya Branch, were residents of the Mirihana area, which even then was a bastion of Rajapakse’s relatives.

On June 1, 2007, both K.M.S. Bandara, who according to the official records lives at the same Old Kottawa Road address of the President’s nephew, and Hettiarachchige Sirisena of Horana, resigned from the board of Sky Network, to be replaced by Indian national, Rabindra Gaitonde and Lycatel UK CEO, Milind Kangle. The game was now well and truly underway.

By the end of the same month, the now foreign controlled company was in a position to ‘lend a helping hand’ to state telecom company SLT, by offering a joint venture or collaboration for WiMax services, using the frequencies reserved by Sky Network. Of course, for his labour, Laleendra Hettiarachchi was given a 5% stake of the company.

If the step-child treatment meted out to SLT by TRC, followed by President Rajapakse’s nephew obtaining Wi- Max frequencies over the counter and offering to sell their use to SLT together were insufficient to smell a rat, the proof of the pudding was soon to follow.

Diffident

The Sunday Leader contacted top SLT officials in order to ask them about their plans for entering the WiMax market and also to find out whether plans were afoot to buy a stake in a private company in order to move into WiMax. The officials however requested anonymity.

Our sympathies are with the board of directors of Sri Lanka Telecom. The external pressures on them to please the Rajapakses aside, SLT was truly stuck between a rock and a hard place when it received the Lycatel offer through Hettiarachchi’s Sky Network. They could either accept playing second fiddle to a Presidential upstart, or sit out the national Wi- Max revolution.

Thus, at the board meeting on June 29, 2007 where the CEO and COO of SLT presented Hettiarachchi’s proposal, approval was granted to carry out a valuation of Sky Network and proceed with negotiations for an equity acquisition of the company.

The largesse

By January 2008, the board of SLT had agreed to very tough conditions put forth by Himal Hettiarachchi’s group, which would ensure that the Rajapakse family had a piece of the action. It was agreed that whilst SLT would hold only a 40% stake in the new joint venture (the remaining 60% would be held by Hettiarachchi’s Sky Network) SLT was supposed to put up 70% of the multi-billion rupee investment cost of the project.

Therein lie the means of the Rajapakse poshanaya. The President’s nephew’s minions are granted access to a valuable telecommunication facility by the state regulator, which was denied to state dominated SLT. The state-owned company was thus almost blackmailed with the prospect of being left out of the WiMax revolution, unless it agreed to put up 70% of the cash for a multi-billion rupee venture and take only 40% of the profit from the said venture.

Compare SLT to Hettiarachchi’s Sky Network. The former was the founder of the Sri Lankan telecom industry, is a public quoted, state owned company whose management is held by a 40% stakeholder (Japan’s NTT) who in turn is well established in the international telecommunications industry. How NTT of Japan as a minority shareholder would look at this deal remains to be seen.

On the other hand, Sky Network is a two year old, Rs.20 company that managed to acquire lucrative facility reservations from the state regulator over the counter. Following the gain of this valuable facility, President Rajapakse’s nephew, Himal Hettiarachchi makes his debut into big business along with a UK pre-paid IDD calling card conglomerate.

The only asset of any value that Sky possessed were its frequency reservations. SLT was unable to get its own WiMax approval from the TRC, which comes directly under the purview of the President, and is effectively chaired by the President’s Secretary, Lalith Weeratunga.

No choice

Thus in order to keep up with other telecom companies such as Dialog and Suntel and not be left out, SLT was left with no choice other than to negotiate an extorting joint venture with the poshanaya (family empire.)

A board memo submitted by CEO Takahashi dated January 21, 2008 was indicative that the deal was virtually sealed with only the number of directors each company is to have on the board to be finalised. (See box for memo)

Given that the deal is to be finalised by SLT’s board of directors this week, it is incumbent on us to advise the SLT board of the TRC’s current stance on the company’s WiMax allocation. When The Sunday Leader contacted current TRC Director General, Priyantha Kariyapperuma, he advised us that SLT’s WiMax application was first taken up during the term of his immediate predecessor, Kanchana Ratwatte.

“The SLT WiMax application ran into some delays during the former DG’s time. I only assumed duties on January 2, 2008. Since then, they have not raised the WiMax issue with the TRC. I myself asked SLT officials but they dismissed the issue stating that they had ‘other priorities’ at the time.”

Kariyapperuma told this newspaper that he had spoken to the Spectrum Management Division of the TRC regarding the SLT request, and that there were a few issues with frequency distribution that would be resolved shortly in order to accommodate the SLT request. “I have told SLT officials who met me that there is no problem, and the request will now be granted. We should be able to give them WiMax within about 45 days,” the director general told us on record.

Explanation

Asked for the reason that the SLT request was delayed for two years whilst other telecom providers were granted WiMax frequencies, the incumbent Director General asked that we speak to his predecessor, since he was not aware of the conditions at the time.

When The Sunday Leader spoke to former TRC Director General, Kanchana Ratwatte, he informed us that a conscious decision was taken by the TRC to not provide SLT with WiMax facilities, before his tenure.

Ratwatte highlighted that SLT was the sole controller of the island’s vast wired telephony infrastructure, and was thus charged with its management. Although stressing that the decision to deny SLT’s WiMax application was taken before his time, the former DG openly supported the decision.

He cited the example of SLT being awarded frequencies to commence CDMA wireless operations. “After this, they totally stopped expanding their wired line operations.” Ratwatte said that he himself had made it clear to SLT that giving them WiMax was not an option for this reason, although he allowed that such a decision was never communicated to him in writing.

SLT officials however scoffed at Ratwatte’s explanation. One high ranking SLT official said that if the TRC was planning to restrict the company’s operations due to its exclusive control over the country’s wired infrastructure, the state telecom giant would not have agreed to such a proposal.

Indignant

“How can they say they have the right to tell us what business to go into and what businesses to stay out of, and control our services? Is this the job of the regulator? Why is this concern only extended to SLT and not to other operators who wish to expand from their core business?” the officer charged.

Now that the current TRC administration has gone on record stating that SLT will be authorised to begin WiMax services within 45 days, it can be shown for certain whether SLT’s board of directors went into the President’s nephew’s Sky Network deal for the good of the national telecom provider or at the whim of the first family. All that SLT now has to do is wait for the 45 days and get their own frequencies as promised by Kariyapperuma without having to go into a deal with Sky Network for want of the WiMax facility.

Should the SLT board hasten to seal the deal with Lycatel and Sky Network even after TRC Director General, Priyantha Kariyapperuma’s assurance that he is moving to provide SLT with WiMax, it will be a clear sign that Sri Lanka Telecom’s interests are not being placed at the forefront.

The only viable asset that Sky Network has, that would convince SLT to shell out 70% of the investment for such an enormous project, in return for the scrapings – a mere 40% of the profit, is their WiMax frequency reservation.

Wait and see

With SLT now set to secure the same WiMax facility from the TRC due to Kariyapperuma’s change in policy, all eyes will be on SLT’s upcoming board meeting this week. It remains to be seen whether SLT’s board of directors – including the representatives of the venerable Japanese NTT management – will have the necessary chutzpah to stand up to the Rajapakse poshanaya.

SLT eager to jump on board

21st January 2008
Board Memo

Sky Network Joint Venture

At the last board meeting of the SLT Board of Directors, the proposed terms of acquisition were approved subject to the revision of the composition of the Board of Directors of Sky Networks (Pvt) Ltd.

SLT Board requested the composition as four (4) directors from SLT and three (3) directors from the existing shareholders, one of whom would be the CEO of Sky Networks (Pvt) Ltd and would be selected with the approval of the Sky Networks Board.

This requirement was conveyed to the current shareholder Hastings (Lyca Group) and is still under negotiations.

Recommendation: Board approval is sought to give authority to CEO to negotiate and resolve this issue.

Shoji Takahashi
Chief Executive Officer


SLT laments delay, moots joint venture

29th June 2007
Board Paper PLC/T/65/2007
Equity Acquisition of Sky Network (Pvt) Ltd – WiMaX frequency owned company

1. Introduction

SLT has done field trials on WiMax Services and is awaiting frequency allocation to launch WiMax services in Sri Lanka which is a wireless broadband solution. SLT has already applied for the WiMax frequency from the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) but despite repeated reminders there has still been no progress to obtain these frequencies. Dialog Broadband and Suntel already own frequencies and they have already rolled out their WiMax networks ready for service offering. The time to market and first mover advantage is very critical in this business as well and SLT will lag behind with the delays and SLT will become another follower in the market. Similar experiences have been there in the past too.

Lyca Group in UK which is a virtual operator in UK has approached SLT for business through its 95% owned subsidiary Sky Network, which has been given WiMax frequency to operate islandwide. SLT is considering an acquisition strategy as an option. In response to initial inquiry to go forward with partnership with equity acquisition of this company to launch WiMax services was positively responded. It is also, possible to leverage cost advantage and operational efficiency through such arrangements.

2. About Sky Network

(i) Name: Sky Network (Pvt) Limited

(ii) Company registration number: N(PVS) 46122

(iii) Share Holding:

95% Hastings Trading E Services – Portugal (subsidiary of Lyca Group)

5%, Himal Laleendra Hettiarachchi

(iv) Board Members

1. Milind Kangle (Chairman) – CEO of Lyca Mobile UK Ltd

2. Christopher Tooley

3. Himal Laleendra Hettiarachchi

WiMax Frequency

1. 2400-2430 MHz (Islandwide)

2. 5470-5850 MHz (Selected urban towns around Colombo)

3. 3500 MHz band to be reserved on exclusive basis upon submission of business plan

3. Recommendations

Board approval is sought to carry out a Valuation and Due Diligence on Sky Network (Pvt) Limited with a view of equity acquisition and by retaining Certified Public Accountants Ernst & Young for this purpose.

Shoji Takahashi P. N. E. Abayasekara
Chief Executive Officer Chief Corporate Officer

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February 24, 2008 Posted by | Hot News from Lanka | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Sripathy MP ; Killing part 2;dramatically increased doubts !

Questions over Sri’s death


The mangled wreckage of Sooriyaarachchi’s vehicle

Eyewitnesses spoke to police and
media but not produced in court

Wife calls for impartial investigation
citing several reasons

Vehicle not examined by the government
analyst for explosives and/or gunshots

PA Pradeshiya Sabha member
produced as witness

By Dilrukshi Handunnetti
and Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema

While controversy surrounds the car crash that killed Coordinator, SLFP (M), Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi and three others in Tambuttegama on February 9, fresh questions are now being raised as to why the police produced two hitherto unknown persons in court as eyewitnesses last Friday (15) when there were eyewitnesses at a nearby garage in Tambuttegama, army personnel and villagers who gathered at the scene of the crash.

Some of them spoke to the police and subsequently to the media but none of them have been produced to furnish eyewitness accounts in court.

Whether there is merit in the argument that there was foul play or not, the sequence of events leading to Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi’s death and some of the eye witness accounts soon afterwards become a matter of public interest.

The concerns have been compounded by the fact that one of the eyewitnesses who appeared in court on Friday turned out to be a PA Pradeshiya Sabha member.

While associates allege that there was no reason to produce unknown eyewitnesses before the Anuradhapura Magistrate on Friday (15) particularly if there was no foul play, the late MP’s wife Dilrukshi Perera has written to Inspector General of Police (IGP), Victor Perera on February 14 calling for an impartial investigation into the incident citing several reasons to suspect foul play in the crash that killed herhusband.

Besides, she insisted that the vehicle should not have been so quickly removed from the scene of the crash but should have been examined without delay by the government analyst for explosives and/or gunshots etc.

Meanwhile, The Sunday Leader has verified information that when the matter came up before the Anuradhapura Magistrate on Friday (15), two eye witnesses were produced by the police, with both claiming the jeep travelled at excessive speed.

Unconfirmed reports

Soon after the fatal car crash, there were unconfirmed reports about a sound similar to a minor explosion being heard by two men running a garage in close proximity to the scene of the crash. They assumed it was a minor bomb blast and soon afterwards rushed to the scene.

However, these two were not among those produced in court to give eyewitness accounts – this despite the fact that they arrived on the scene of the accident shortly after the crash.

The two eyewitnesses who were producedtold court that they witnessed the jeep speeding on the road and identified the mangled metal contraption to be the same they saw minutes before the crash. The PA Pradeshiya Sabha member had told court that he drove past the speeding vehicle. He reportedly told court that he saw the speeding vehicle while on his way to purchase some goods with his daughter. Soon after that, they saw the same vehicle crashed into a massive tree, he stated.

The other eyewitness account was made by a police officer from the Galnewa police. He reportedly told court that he was on his way to check out some ‘transformer blast’ when he happened to travel passing a jeep that moved at ‘reckless speed.’He later discovered the badly damaged vehicle by the roadside.

Importantly enough, the two persons from the garage who initially claimed to have heard some ‘explosion like noise’ and rushed to the scene were not produced in court. Also, it was reported that there was a large army presence at the scene of the accident following the car crash (see Eye Witness Account), but none of them appeared in court on Friday to give evidence.

Concerned query

In this backdrop, Sooriyaarachchi’s associates query as to why the police felt the need to produce hitherto unknown witnesses and one of them a PA politician if there was nothing suspicious about the car crash that killed Sooriyaarachchi and three others. Court fixed the next hearing for February 27.

Meanwhile, Sooriyaarachchi’s lawyers produced before the magistrate the letter written by his widow to IGP Victor Perera calling for an impartial inquiry.

In her letter dated February 14, Sooriyaarachchi’s widow, Dilrukshi Perera has requested IGP Victor Perera for an impartial investigation to the car crash that killed her husband along with three others and to appoint a special team of officers for the purpose.

She stated that a large number of friends and relatives have brought to her notice several issues that caused suspicion with regard to the circumstances of the accident and claimed that only the local police was handling investigations (at the time of writing) which she found unsatisfactory.

Requesting that a lawyer nominated by her be permitted to watch the family’s interests at the investigation, she added: “The vehicle should have been examined without delay by the government analyst for explosives and/or gunshots etc. I understand that this was not done. What is also of greater concern is that the vehicle was removed from the scene of the accident very quickly, before investigations had properly commenced.”

Valid reasons

The letter further added that there were two reasons whichcaused her to doubt the theories propounded in explanation of Sooriyaarachchi’s violent death. It read: “Firstly, the harassment meted out to her husband since he was removed by His Excellency the President from his ministerial portfolio exactly one year before the date of the accident. Next, he was persecuted, arrested and remanded on frivolous charges and our house in Colombo was bombed so that we were compelled to move house to what we thought was a safer place.”

Exposures

The letter to the IGP claimed that it was thought that the reason for the unjust political victimisation was because Sooriyaarachchi was one of the few formidable critics of the present government, who publicly brought to light many illegal, immoral and corrupt deals of some people in power.

The letter highlights that Sooriyaarachchi publicly exposed facts with regard to an agreement with the LTTE and key government personalities to defraud the last presidential election. “He was to be the key witness in the probe into this allegation by the Special Parliamentary Select Committee. In fact, Sripathi was arrested immediately before he was due to present a motion in parliament requesting a probe. The probe of the Select Committee is still pending,” it added.

The letter further adds that Sooriyaarachchi championed a call for an independent investigation to look into the infamous MiG 27 deal and that he also exposed irregularities in the attempted sale of Telecom shares to a foreign company and successfully obtained a stay order from courts, the final court decision still pending.

Vituperative campaign

Dilrukshi Perera in her letter emphasises that the IGP should therefore appreciate the importance of removing the chief petitioner/complainant in all the above matters that are of great national interest and claims that the above instances on the other hand were most embarrassing to those wielding power in government.

“It is also of interest to note that a most vituperative campaign was carried out against my husband in the state media since he was sacked from the government. I must say that Sripathi stood for democracy and freedom and only fought for the right of every citizen to an honest and good government. Sripathi believed that this country could lay claim to a great and noble future. He was only legally and morally exercising his right to ensure this. No one should be harassed or punished for this,” adds the letter further emphasising the fact that the late Sooriyaarachchi received death threats through anonymous calls and letters.

In conclusion, Sooriyaarachchi’s widow adds that in the above context, she had serious doubts about the manner in which the motor accident occurred and hence earnestly pleaded with the IGP as the head of the Police Department, the agency which citizens of the country look to for justice and fair play, to take impartial action to institute an independent investigation into same.

Family bans two government politicos

The Sooriyaarachchi family banned two government politicians – namely non-Cabinet Ministers Mervyn Silva and Mahindananda Aluthgamage from visiting the funeral house in Kandana.

Silva who had put up posters and banners expressing grief over the sudden demise of the MP later on removed all such signs of mourning and reportedly banned others from putting up banners mourning Sooriyaarachchi’s death.

Both ministers have regularly used abusive language on the late Parliamentarian and obstructed him from speaking in parliament.

However other government politicians visited Sooriyaarachchi’s home to pay their last respects.

Brief profile

Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi was born on September 8, 1962

Married to Dilrukshi Perera he was a father of four children.

He served as a navy officer before entering politics. He was appointed Essential Services Commissioner in 1999

Entered politics in 2003 with the blessings of then President Chandrika Kumaratunga

Successfully contested for the first time in 2004 from the Gampaha District on the UPFA ticket securing 76,637 preferential votes.

President Kumaratunga appointed him as Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports in 2004.

Appointed non Cabinet Minister of Port Development by President Mahinda Rajapakse in December 2005.

Writes to President Mahinda Rajapakse on February 7, 2006 regarding Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapakse alleging specific instances of corruption and irregularities

A claymore mine attack in Kadawatha allegedly targeting Sooriyaarachchi while on his way to a mobile service at a temple averted on October 19, 2006

On February 9, 2007, Sooriyaarachchi together with Mangala Samaraweera sacked from portfolios by Mahinda Rajapakse

On March 6, submits a motion calling for a special parliamentary select committee to probe an alleged electoral pact between key government personalities and the LTTE to defraud the 2005 presidential election.

In March 2007, arrested by the CID for alleged misuse of an official vehicle

Exonerated from the charge after five weeks

Crossed over to the opposition in June 2007 along with Samaraweera. Together they form the SLFP- Mahajana Wing

The SLFP (M) Wing signs a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to form the National Congress with the main opposition UNP in July 2007

Sooriyaarachchi’s final day

Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi on Saturday, February 9, left for Anuradhapura to meet a former member of the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN), one Ekanayake.

Sooriyaarachchi, Ekanayake and S.K.R. Silva (who was also killed in the accident), were long standing friends since they were all members of the Sri Lanka Navy at one point. Even after leaving active service, the trio had maintained close links.

Silva had for some time expressed his interest in starting a paddy business and had called on Ekanayake to find a suitable storehouse to commence the business.

On Friday (8) night, Silva had called Ekanayake and informed him that he would arrive in Anuradhapura the following day to inspect some of the storehouses Ekanayake had earmarked for the business.

Silva had also told Ekanayake that he would be leaving Colombo around 7.30 a.m. on Saturday and that he would call him once he arrived in Anuradhapura.

Around 11 a.m. Silva had called Ekanayake and had asked him to meet him near the Lion pillar (Sinha kanuwa) in Anuradhapura. Ekanayake had then asked Silva to come to Dahiyagama, which was convenient to him.

Silva had then informed Ekanayake that he could not come to the location suggested by Ekanayake as Parliamentarian Sooriyaarachchi had accompanied him.

Ekanayake had then agreed to meet Silva and Sooriyaarachchi near the Lion pillar.

They have then gone to inspect the storehouses identified by Ekanayake to start Silva’s business. They next visited the Ulukkulama Govi Sevana as well.

However, Silva had not been satisfied with any of the storehouses inspected that day.

Sooriyaarachchi, Silva and the rest of the group had then left Anuradhapura after dropping Ekanayake at Dahiyagama.

The next Ekanayake heard was of the accident that had taken place and of Sooriyaarachchi’s and Silva’s death.

Following the accident, Ekanayake was first asked to record a statement with Galgamuwa police.

However, on Tuesday (12), the Anuradhapura police summoned Ekanayake. Sergeant Bandara from the Intelligence Unit had informed Ekanayake that he had to record another statement from him claiming that the Presidential Secretariat had requested more details.

Investigations complete – DIG Wayamba

Wayamba Province DIG, Jayantha Jayasinghe says that the investigation into the accident by officials from the Government Analysts Department and the motorcar inspectors had concluded that the impact was caused due to speeding.

Jayasinghe said that the report of the investigation was handed over to the Tambuttegama Magistrate on Friday (15).

“The investigators have concluded that the accident was caused due to speeding,” he said.

Jayasinghe observed that the investigators had looked into the speculation that foul play was involved in the accident when investigating into the accident.

“The investigators have cleared a lot of speculation that was built following the accident. They have looked into the allegation that gun shots were fired before the vehicle went off the road and have said that there have been no such shots fired,” he said, adding that investigations have revealed that the tyres of the vehicle were worn out.

Jayasinghe also said that the two survivors of the accident in their statements to the police have said that the vehicle was speeding at the time of the accident.

When questioned as to how the investigation was handed over to the North Western Province when the accident took place in Tambuttegama in the Anuradhapura District, Jayasinghe said that the accident had taken place in Galgamuwa, which belonged to the Kurunegala District. “In fact, the accident has taken place in the border (between the Anuradhapura District and Kurunegala District),” he said.

“There is no suspicion with regard to the accident now. All aspects have been looked into and verified by the investigators,” Jayasinghe added.

Survivor’s account

Lakmal Vajirasiri, one of the survivors of the accident that killed Parliamentarian Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi says he cannot recall the cause of the accident as he was asleep at the time.

A former director of the Yovun Senankaya formed by the late Sooriyaarachchi, Lakmal had received a telephone call from the former on Friday (8) asking him to be ready the following day to travel to Anuradhapura.

“I was called on Friday and was asked to be ready to go to Anuradhapura the following day. I was told to be in Divulapitiya on Saturday (9) morning and I was picked up around 8.45 a.m. We reached Anuradhapura around 11.30 a.m.,” he said.

According to Lakmal, once they arrived in Anuradhapura they met with a person who had showed them several warehouses to store paddy.

“One of the Parliamentarian’s friends was interested in seeing the warehouses. After we looked at several and since there was nothing that caught his interest, we decided to return to Colombo,” he said.

Around 12.15 p.m., they had stopped for lunch at a roadside boutique a little before Tambuttegama.

“After lunch, we resumed our journey and a little while later, most of us fell asleep. I was fast asleep when the accident took place. In fact when I woke up, I was in hospital. I have no idea as to what happened,” Lakmal said.

Eyewitness accounts

A few minutes after the accident, a group of people travelling to Anuradhapura had arrived at the scene of the accident.

Liyanage Samantha Kumara and his brother arrived at the scene of the accident about 10 minutes after the accident had taken place when they had witnessed several army personnel already there at the scene clearing the area.

Liyanage said that he and his brother were on their way to an alms giving in Iluppallama in Anuradhapura when they arrived at the scene of the accident.

“There were a lot of army personnel along with a lot of villagers surrounding the vehicle. Some of the army soldiers stopped our vehicle and asked us to take a few injured to hospital,” he said.

Liyanage had then got down from the front passenger seat and opened to door behind when the first injured person was brought to the vehicle.

“The first person I saw among the injured was Lakmal, whom we knew personally. I told my brother who was at the driver’s seat that Lakmal was injured and then I called my workplace. I asked them to inform Lakmal’s family that he was injured in an accident,” he said.

Liyanage and his brother had taken some of the injured to the hospital.

“Another van followed soon behind with several others injured in the accident. It was after we admitted everyone to hospital that we knew that Parliamentarian Sooriyaarachchi was involved in the accident,” Liyanage said.

“After admitting everyone, we waited for a while till some people arrived and then we left because we were already late for the alms giving,” Liyanage added.

February 17, 2008 Posted by | Political Hot News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sripathy MP Killed by accident or Pre Plan? ::Is Rajapakse and co involved ?

sripathy,Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi,mp Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi,Sri Lankan MP,killed MP,LTTE,Eelam,tamil news, sinhala news,sri lankan news,mangala,mangala samaraweera Sripathy No more…
Exactly one year to the day he was sacked from his ministerial portfolio by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, SLFP dissident and Gampaha District MP died under tragic circumstances in a road accident yesterday.

MP Sri pathy

The former Minister, his driver Kumara and bodyguard S.K.R. Silva were killed when the jeep they were travelling in skidded off the rain-soaked Kurunegala-Anuradhapura Road and crashed headlong into a tree last afternoon, Police said.

The incident took place at around 1:15 p.m. in Madagama in the Galgamuwa Police Division, when Sooriyaarachchi and a group of six people, including his deceased driver and bodyguard, were travelling back to Colombo from Anuradhapura.

The victims of the crash were rushed to the Thambuttegama Hospital a few kilometres away but Sooriyaarachchi and two others were already dead on admission, hospital officials told The Nation.

The MP’s Secretary Lakmal Vajirasiri and one other person who was injured in the accident are still receiving treatment at the Thambuttegama Hospital.
Sooriyaarachchi leaves behind his wife Dilrukshi, two daughters, Thishani (17) and Piumi (15), and two young sons, Adhishtan (10) and Apekshan (5).

On February 9 last year, Sooriyaarachchi and his colleagues Mangala Samaraweera and Anura Bandaranaike were sacked from their ministerial positions by President Rajapaksa. Samaraweera and Sooriyaarachchi later went on to establish the SLFP splinter group, SLFP Mahajana Wing, in which Sooriyaarachchi functioned as chief coordinator.

Since his sacking, Sooriyaarachchi had been one of the Rajapaksa administration’s most vociferous critics.
Sooriyaarachchi, known to his closest friends and relatives by the affectionate nickname ‘Sri,’ first entered Parliament as an MP of the United People’s Freedom Alliance, born of the political marriage between the SLFP and the JVP.

His seat in Parliament belongs to the ruling UPFA coalition and the late MP will be succeeded by the SLFP representative with.

Allegations made by UNP:

in a press release on the same day ,mp killed UNP member Luxman Kiriyella said that the death of Sripathy mp is suspicious , and clear investigations should be go on, as our members from the area where the accident took place reported firing sounds at the time of the accident .

Political killings is a normal practice in the politics of sri lanka . The people smallest Island fighting for the power and kill other to get the powers.

The second think is the accident claimed the life of three traveled in the vehicle ,how it is possible as it is not happen in other similar accidents .

The maximum possibilities guessed at the moment:

1>may be a very rare type of real accident (20%)
2>A group with gun on a vehicle chased this vehicle and lead to this incident (60%)
3> A big vehicle hit this vechicle or on the way to hit ,so driver turned the cab ,it lead to the accident.

February 10, 2008 Posted by | Top news | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mahinda’s Party in the Capital on the cold blood of Innocent Sri Lankan

Coutesy of : Sunday Leader 10/02/2008

 Mahinda Rajapakse

 

As the nation remained steeped in sorrow

That the loss of a life is a time for mourning has been a universally accepted norm. Sri Lankans for that matter, have through history acted with solemnity when it came to mourning the loss of a life.

However, all this was cast aside on February 4, when none other than the Head of State decided to throw a lavish party to commemorate the country’s 60th Independence Day.

 Just the day before Independence Day, the people in the country encountered several tragedies and it is in this context questions have arisen over President Mahinda Rajapakse’s decision to go ahead with a party when not far away from Temple Trees, at D.S. Senanayake College, bodies of the students killed in the Fort Railway blast had just been brought for the people to pay their last respects. Bombs were exploding in various parts of the island – in Buttala, Dambulla, Fort, Weli Oya – increasing the number of people who lost their lives to over 100.

Sombre mood

These deaths, many of them children, moved the whole nation. The whole country was mourning the death of the innocents.

It was in this backdrop that the country celebrated its 60th Independence Day. The people while marking the event on a low key, were in no mood for grand celebrations as evidenced by the deserted roads that day. Thoughts of death and destruction gripped the city.

Taken for granted

Something that President Mahinda Rajapakse seemed to take for granted was the value of human life which the ordinary people held sacred. A man who claims to represent the common man and claims to know their joys and sorrows appeared to be insensitive to their feelings at a time of national tragedy.

Just imagine for a moment, the US president having a party at the White House for whatever reason soon after a spate of bombings in Washington. There is no gainsaying, even if a party was scheduled before the disaster, it would have been cancelled pronto.

But not so Apey Rajapakse. Regardless of the people who lost their lives for no fault of theirs and the mourning of their loved ones, the President decided to proceed with a grand banquet on February 4. So much for understanding the pulse of the common man.

Plans for grand do

While the nation disturbed by the large number of deaths decided to either engage in religious activities or commemorate Independence Day in a sombre mood, the President and his men were finalising plans to have a grand do.

Temple Trees was decorated to the hilt, with fairy lights and the works. Over 700 guests were invited to the event, including ministers, ambassadors and businessmen.

A unique feature that night were three separate sections named Historical, Colonial and Down South, where each section featured delectable cuisine from the relevant period.

Full works

The next feature that caught the guests’ eye were two carts that prepared hot gram and two stalls that made Saruwath.

The atmosphere at Temple Trees was in stark contrast to the sorrow that had befallen the rest of the country due to those who died due to the bomb explosions and the fear that gripped the country.

Apart from the food and beverage, the President and his men had organised entertainment as well. Sahan Ranwala’s music group was in attendance providing lively entertainment.

The President who personally greeted his guests, encouraged them all to savour the fare on offer at the Down South section.

Interestingly however, out of the 700 invited, only 400 actually turned up at the event. Several senior cabinet ministers were also conspicuous by their absence on the occasion.

February 10, 2008 Posted by | Political Hot News | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bomb Blasts in South and Colombo :: Gotabaya is being Pay back.

68_welioya-map.jpg

2008 Born with the Cold Blood killing of Tamil MP Mageswaran in Sri Lanka.

Now it is scoring up to 150 civilian deaths from the majority community for the first time.

In Jaffna and Sri Lankan Army controlled areas , where tamils lived, every day minimum 10 innocent Tamils being killed ,by unidentified armed men.

In the Heroes days of LTTE last year so many arieal attacks claimed so many innocent lives . Then recently In  January 2007  School Children’s Buss attacked by claymore and 17 people including school children were killed.

If you are a continuous reader of Tamil Net then you can be frustrated by calculating the number of Tamils being killed every day. As I have enough connections with Jaffna and my roots there , i am able to confirm so many deaths happend even in my relative circles .

NO Sinhalese in the south know about this , and not worry about this, if you see the on line magazines of Sri Lanka ,you can understand the mentality of the majority people.

After the killing of more than 2000 Tmails in last year, The tamil terror party planned and started to blast the south ,their ultimate intension is teaching a lesson to Gotabaya like people about the pain of the war. Definitely Kotabaya will not realize as he is living in AC room and traveling in bullet proof car  ,and his family is living a very very high profile life from the commission he earns from the arm dealings .

But the majority Sinhala people are supporting this war and telling “go army go” when ever a hit in Kilinochi is reported this people enjoy by burning fire works on the sky.  This people never worry about the innocent tamils hit and killed in that attacks. As they don’t  know the bitter taste of the cold blood, now a lesson is being given to them.

I personally love all human beings, but  as i spent my 30 years of life in Jaffna and seen all the truth of Sri Lankan army acitvities, how they handle tails in war areas , now i also have to support this killings as a part of war.

Once in the 2005 , when army was trying to capture the east, they put the shell on a school and killed lot of tamil refugees in the school , that time the minister responsible for media told that this type of thinks cannot be avoid in war.

So the hon minister now should keep his ugly mouth shut up, as this also cannot be avoided as all are fair in War an Love !

February 4, 2008 Posted by | Hot News from Lanka | 2 Comments

The Karuna and Kotabaya ::Karuna smuggled to UK by SL Government

The Karuna case unplugged

By Ranjith Jayasundera

The sentencing of Karuna Amman in a British Court last Friday has burst open a legal and diplomatic Pandora’s Box for the Sri Lankan government. Given the rate at which evidence is piling up from all quarters to prove that the government spearheaded the smuggling of Karuna into the United Kingdom, it will soon be impossible to avoid the international ramifications that follow.

Aside from Karuna’s statement to the British authorities — significant extracts of which The Sunday Leader has in its possession — our own investigations consisting of interviews with Katunayake airport officials and immigration officers amongst other eye witnesses to the scene, have served to create a dazzling picture of Karuna’s Hollywood blockbuster style exit from Sri Lanka.

Point man

The point man calling the shots according to Karuna was none other than Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapakse, and according to The Sunday Leader’s own inquiries, the government would be hard pressed to prove how so many local and international laws could be flouted in one go without the approval of someone at least as powerful as Defence Secretary, Rajapakse.

Karuna told the British Police that he made his initial request to visit the UK to the Defence Secretary with whom he was acquainted in his capacity as leader of “a breakaway faction” of the LTTE that had “reconciled with the government.”

According to Karuna, he met with Defence Secretary, Rajapakse and asked him to facilitate a trip to England for him, in order to visit his family. Rajapakse had allegedly agreed to take care of all arrangements, and from that point Karuna states he was at ease.

This version of events is just slightly at odds with documentary evidence published last November in The Sunday Leader that indicates that the idea of sending Karuna to the UK originated at a Geneva meeting between EPDP Leader Douglas Devananda, Asian Tribune Editor, K.T. Rajasingham and President Mahinda Rajapakse.

At the meeting on June 15, 2007, Rajasingham had suggested getting rid of Karuna since he had outlived his usefulness and President Rajapakse had replied that he would speak to the necessary defence authorities and handle arrangements from that point on.

‘Partners in crime’

However the bone was split between the Executive President and his kid brother, the Defence Secretary, and the gears of the government machinery got into motion. On August 30, 2007 the Department of Immigration and Emigration issued a diplomatic passport number D1944260 in the name of “Kokila Dushmantha Gunawardena” whose occupation on the passport was given as Director General of Wildlife Conservation.

The photograph on the passport was that of Karuna Amman. The Department of Immigration, it is pertinent to note, comes under the Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law and Order of which Gotabaya Rajapakse is Secretary and President Rajapakse the Minister.

Despite Foreign Minister, Rohitha Bogollagama repeatedly and vociferously denying that the passport is genuine, our investigations prove that it was. The Sunday Leader learns that British officials have used the most sophisticated techniques available as well as guidelines provided by the Sri Lankan government for identifying valid passports, and as such they are certain that Karuna’s diplomatic passport (in their possession) is valid down to the last detail of its printing. It is possible all records in Sri Lanka were destroyed.

Karuna himself in his statement to the British police was to point out that “in Sri Lanka, without government assistance no one can get diplomatic passports.” After the passport was produced, it was delivered to the Foreign Ministry. Trusted officials then drafted a Third Party Note that was sent with passport D1944260 and several other passports directly to the British High Commission from the Foreign Ministry requesting that visas be granted for the persons included to attend a climate change conference in the UK.

On the basis of an understood trust between two governments, the applications were duly processed and the British High Commission on September 5, 2007 issued a six month multiple entry visa on Karuna’s passport, which was subsequently collected from the embassy by Foreign Ministry officials.

VIP treatment

After the visa was issued, travel plans for his departure on September 18 were made. Karuna was assigned an escort and a body double from the defence establishment’s Military Intelligence Wing, both of whom accompanied him to the Bandaranaike International Airport from his safe house in Colombo.

Whilst Karuna was en route to the airport, instructions were received by various officials at the airport to accommodate a VVIP travelling incognito. Unimpeachable sources have confirmed to The Sunday Leader that Nalaka Bamunusinghe (then director of AASL, and Coordinating Secretary to the President) and Shalitha Wijesundera (then deputy chairman) are amongst those who received presidential instructions to assist Karuna at the airport.

Karuna’s vehicle was met at the main air force checkpoint by an armed air force escort at around 1.45 a.m. and they moved together under cover of darkness down the main airport road, past the departure terminal, and turned left before the arrivals terminal, into a narrow lane leading to the VIP lounge.

Eyewitnesses

At this point, eye witnesses confirm that they witnessed Karuna descend from his vehicle with his two Military Intelligence escorts. Airport Deputy Chairman, Shalitha Wijesundera was waiting for them, and Karuna was handed over to him by one of the intelligence officers, whilst his body double proceeded past Wijesundera to speak with the immigration officer on duty at the VIP lounge. Karuna was then whisked right through immigration by Wijesundera and the intelligence officers withdrew, leaving their charge in the care of the Airport Deputy Chairman.

Meanwhile, SriLankan Airlines flight UL 505 bound for London was scheduled to depart at 0215 hrs on September 18. All passengers had boarded and the aircraft was docked to the sky-bridge on the tarmac. A passenger announcement was made requesting that all passengers be settled as a VIP was about to board the aircraft.

The aircraft’s cabin crew proceeded to close the curtains separating the economy class cabin from the business class cabin. As all air travellers are aware, passengers conventionally board from the left hand side of an aircraft. However at around 0205 hrs, before the aircraft had left the sky bridge, the front right hand side door was opened and an emergency ladder vehicle docked with the plane.

Drove upto aircraft

A vehicle carrying Karuna and Shalitha Wijesundera drove up to the ladder vehicle and stopped. The two got out of the vehicle, and Wijesundera personally escorted Karuna up the ladder and on board the aircraft. After Karuna was seated and buckled in, Wijesundera produced the famous passport, D1944260, and handed it to Karuna, who acknowledged with a nod, before Wijesundera left the aircraft.

Thus ended several years of VIP treatment for Karuna who had enjoyed the best of both worlds — from both the LTTE and then the government. Wijesundera debarked the aircraft, the ladder was retracted, the plane door was closed, and UL 505 took off bound for London’s Heathrow Airport with Kokila Gunawardena alias Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan, alias Karuna Amman, seated in the front row of the business class cabin.

Karuna’s police statement both verifies this series of events, and tells the story of what happened thereon. The ex-TMVP leader disembarked from UL 505 at Terminal 4 of Heathrow Airport to no special welcome. He proceeded through the normal immigration channel at the airport and the immigration officer upon seeing his diplomatic passport, allowed Karuna to pass through without any questioning and without producing a landing card.

The game is up

Karuna left the airport in a London taxi at around 9:30 a.m. on September 18, and it can only be presumed that he proceeded to his Kensington home where he was arrested just over six weeks later.

Having been tipped off as to Karuna’s presence and been provided the exact address of Karuna’s Kensington, London apartment, British police raided the apartment, detained Karuna and seized his diplomatic passport, serving him with papers for illegal entry into the UK under the Immigration and Asylum Act of 1974. Karuna was subsequently taken to the Collingwood Detention Centre where he was detained pending further inquiry.

When investigators examined his passport and visa, they were astounded. Karuna’s passport was legitimate in that it showed absolutely no sign of forgery even upon the most vigorous inspection. His visa also was valid as it had been officially issued by the British High Commission in Colombo.

Karuna had not made any false statements to the High Commission in Colombo, as thanks to the Sri Lankan government handling the procurement of his visa, he had no contact with the High Commission whatsoever.

The fact that his visa was granted on the merit of a Third Party Note by the Sri Lankan government through regular channels for diplomatic and VIP travel would have made it nearly impossible for a prosecutor to prove that Karuna had himself committed an offence under immigration law.

Finally, the British police came up with a plan. On December 22, officers visited Karuna at the Collingwood Detention Centre and technically ‘arrested’ him for breach of Section 25 of the Identity Cards Act No. 15 of 2006. Karuna was then moved to the Heathrow Police Station where he was questioned and his statement recorded with regards to the offence of “possessing a false identity document with requisite intention.

The charge meant that that Karuna had possessed the forged passport with the intent of using it to conceal his identity, and carried a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. In his statement, Karuna admitted that his name was not Kokila Gunawardena and revealed his true identity. (See box for extracts of Karuna’s statement produced in court).

Admitted

Karuna also admitted outright that he was not a diplomat, was not attending a climate change conference and was not the Director General of Wildlife Conservation. In short, the ex-LTTE deputy spilt his entire story to the police officers.

The British officers could find no evidence to dispute any fact that Karuna had told them and as he had not had any other recorded form of written or verbal communication with any British officials prior to his questioning, the odds were against the investigators to try and prove that Karuna had the requisite intention prescribed by Section 25 (1) of the UK ID Cards Act.

In the Act, requisite intention is defined as “the intention of using the document for establishing registrable facts about himself.” Given the lack of evidence that Karuna had planned to use his passport to register facts about himself, the British charged Karuna for merely “having in his possession without reasonable excuse” his “identity document that relates to someone else” under Section 25 (5) of the Identity Cards Act.

This much less serious offence carries a maximum prison sentence of just 24 months. The case however was watertight, and Karuna pleaded guilty knowing full well that he had no “reasonable excuse” for possessing the diplomatic passport.

The sentence

On Friday, January 25, Karuna was sentenced to nine months imprisonment and the clock began to tick for the British government to charge him with crimes against humanity.

The Sri Lankan government’s repeated denial of involvement in Karuna’s escape is pathetic, desperate and futile. The British High Commission, whilst routinely refusing to comment on the specifics of the case, has evidence that Karuna’s passport was both delivered and collected from their premises by Foreign Ministry officials.

Investigators in the UK have found absolutely no evidence that Karuna’s diplomatic passport was forged despite utilising all available means. This particular revelation has dramatic ramifications for the UK’s immigration policy towards Sri Lanka. Assuming the government is to be believed in that it had nothing to do with Karuna’s escape, this means Karuna managed to forge a diplomatic passport well enough to fool not only the UK authorities but also Sri Lanka’s own immigration officials.

For how could Karuna have boarded UL505 at the Bandaranaike International Airport, an airport brimming with security checks, without arousing suspicion at the airport, especially at the VIP lounge?

Message

Would a Sri Lankan immigration official not have recognised Karuna and known full well that he was not the Director General of Wildlife Conservation? If this is possible, there is nothing to prevent a lesser known face such as Sea Tiger Commander, Soosai or LTTE Intelligence Wing Head, Pottu Amman from forging diplomatic passports and strolling in and out of the country at will. More importantly, the government has through its denial of involvement sent a clear message that Sri Lankan diplomatic passports are not to be taken seriously at face value.

Defence Secretary Rajapakse, having been accused of masterminding the operation and promising Karuna that he would be able to travel to and from the UK at leisure, made a true gem of a statement to IANS after he was accused in court.

Corroborates Karuna

Rajapakse began by corroborating part of Karuna’s statement, admitting that Karuna had in fact approached him about visiting England to be with his family. He confirmed that he tried to assist Karuna through the good graces of a ‘friendly third country.’ “I then abandoned the idea of helping Karuna in this matter. And that was a long time ago,” he recalled.

Having already shot himself in the foot by admitting that the two were familiar, the outspoken Defence Secretary then proceeded to pick off his toes with the skill of a veteran military marksman.

“Why should I want to send him away when he could be useful in Sri Lanka?” queried Rajapakse. We leave it to readers to judge what use the Secretary of Defence, Public Security, Law and Order would have for a man who lined up and executed over 700 unarmed policemen in cold blood.

The Defence Secretary sidestepped the issue of how Karuna was granted a diplomatic passport on his government’s watch, and instead diverted attention on how Karuna obtained a British visa. “I do not know how Karuna got the passport. But to my mind, the question that needs to be asked is, how he got a British visa?” Rajapakse pondered to the IANS, unconsciously hinting that a Sri Lankan diplomatic passport is easier to acquire than a British visa.

“The British visa is not easy to get. There is a lot of scrutiny. The visa seeker, other than a minister of the government, has to go to the High Commission for a detailed interview. This being so, how was Karuna given the visa?” he asked. Well, we know how. It was through a government TPN.

Infantile thinking

The Defence Secretary too thus holds the line that the government had nothing to do with helping Karuna obtain his visa. That Rajapakse and for that matter Foreign Minister Bogollagama expect the public to take their word against documentation with the British High Commission in Colombo, telephone records, forensic evidence and eye witness accounts to the contrary only goes to further prove their own infantile thinking and their callous disregard for international relations.

Rajapakse in his interview with IANS also invited the British judiciary to question him, mistakenly assuming that he had been accused by the British in court of aiding Karuna: “It was wrong on the part of the British judiciary to have said that I helped him get the passport, without first verifying with me.”

Well if the British authorities wanted an opening, there they have it, from Gotabaya no less.

What Karuna told the British PoliceThe following is an extract from Crown Prosecution Advocate, Robert Meikle’s speech at Karuna’s sentencing hearing, wherein he reads out of Karuna’s statement to the Metropolitan Police. He said he had been living in Sri Lanka and wanted to come to London as his family and children were in the United Kingdom. He told the investigating officer that the Sri Lankan Government gave him the passport and sent him to the United Kingdom.He said that he told the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary that he wanted to visit his family in the United Kingdom and it was he, the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary, who arranged everything for him and he told him that he would get a six month visa for the United Kingdom. The Secretary also told him, no problem if he wanted to come again. He then said that he thought that the Sri Lankan Government had spoken to the British Government about this visit.He said he had no involvement; was unaware of how the official got him the passport and he was only aware when the immigration officers arrested him.He said the Defence Secretary of Sri Lanka was the President’s brother and he knew him as they had met before as when he broke away from the LTTE, which is the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and he had broken away and led a breakaway faction and apparently then became reconciled with the government.

When he broke away from the LTTE the government protected him and he then gave the name of the Defence Secretary to the officers.

He said he did not go after the passport and said that in Sri Lanka, without government assistance no one can get diplomatic passports.

He explained that in a meeting with the Secretary he told him of his intentions to visit his family in the United Kingdom; he had not seen them for a long time. Well, after that everything was arranged for him.

He said that he was taken to the airport and did not go through Customs and the agent who took him there went to the immigration official and he took them direct through the airport and he was then taken on board the plane, which flew to the United Kingdom.

As I say, enquiries with the Sri Lankan authorities dispute that they had anything to do with this passport.

On arrival in the United Kingdom, he went past the immigration official, had no questions of any note asked of him and took a taxi to the address in Kensington.

As far as his diplomatic status is concerned, he said: “No, I’m not a diplomat. I’m protected by the government.”

He said he had a genuine Sri Lankan passport in his name and date of birth that had been arranged for him by Norwegian officials. However, this had been given back to the Sri Lankan Government when they knew he wanted to come to the United Kingdom.

He was shown the passport on which he travelled. Stated the photograph was him. It was not his name and not his date of birth and again, said the government did it all and he said that the government said that he could not travel in his real name.

He said he did not go to the British High Commission or Embassy and was only travelling on the document that he travelled on because he was obeying government instructions, that being the Sri Lankan Government instructions, he was saying.

He was asked whether he had come to the United Kingdom to attend a wild life convention, as stated in the visa application, and said he knew nothing about the visa and that the government did not tell him anything.

He said that the agent in the airport again sorted everything out and he was taken on board the flight and before he left he was handed the passport. He said he was aware that the details on the passport were not his.

When he landed at Heathrow he gave it to immigration, he did not tell them anything regarding the details on the passport; they did not ask him anything. He says it was all down to the Sri Lankan Government authorities.

Source : Sunday Leader

Courtesy of Sunday Leader , Sri Lanka .

February 3, 2008 Posted by | Hot News from Lanka | , , , , , , | Leave a comment