By Laila Nasry
Sgt. Manawadu testifying in the case against two Air Force officers who allegedly threatened, harassed and intimidated The Sunday Times Consultant Editor Iqbal Athas and his family told Court he was ordered by Assistant Superintendent Pinidiya to proceed to the Athas's residence.
In this case two Air Force officers Squadron Leader H. M.Rukman, the bodyguard of a former Air Force Commander and Squadron Leader D. S. P. Kannangara the officer in charge of the Special AirBorne Force were indicted in the Colombo High Court for committing criminal trespass, intimidation and unlawful entry with weapons into the Sunday Times Consultant Editor Iqbal Athas's Nuge-goda residence on February 12, 1998.
Answering a question posed by State Counsel P. P. Surasena he said at the time of the incident he was attached to the Mirihana police and was on patrol duty at Delkanda when he received the message.
Stating that he was aware that the address given to him was that of journalist Iqbal Athas Sgt. Manawadu said locating the house was easy as there was a police post outside.
On his arrival he signed the book at the police post and had identified himself to Mr. Athas's domestic aide Subramaniam who let him in.
Sgt. Manawadu said he had proceeded upstairs to Mr. Athas's study on the first floor. Asked whether Mr. Athas was at the study Sgt. Manawadu said he was on the phone with DIG Jinadasa after which he had handed over the phone to SGT. Manawadu.
Questioned on the topic of conversation Sgt. Manawadu said the DIG had informed him to carry out a full scale investigation and further ordered him to take fingerprint samples.
Thereafter Sgt. Manawadu said he inspected Mr. Athas's home and its surroundings. Questioned at to the state of mind of Subramaniam Sgt. Manawadu said he was in a state of shock and so was Mr. and Mrs. Athas.
He further said CID officer Asela had arrived at the scene of the incident and had conducted an investigation, recording statements of those present during the incident.
Srinath Perera, counsel for the 1st accused questioned the Sgt. Manawadu as to whether any fingerprints were obtained to which he replied in the negative.
When questioned by Anil Silva, the counsel for 2nd accused, whether Mr. Athas mentioned that prior to the sergeant's arrival a group of persons had come and searched the house, Mr. Manawadu answered in the affirmative.
Police constable Hemantha of the Criminal Investigation Department testifying said Inspector Dha-mmika had ordered him to go to the Athas's residence and accompanied the witnesses to the identification parade. Prior to that he was to report to Inspector Dhammika.
In reply to a question by the state counsel he said having arrived there around 11 a.m. the police post at the gate had informed Mr. Athas of his arrival. After explaining to Mr. Athas the purpose of his visit around 12.30 p.m. he had accompanied Mr. and Mrs. Athas and three domestic aides in their van to the Gango-dawila Magistrate's Court.
Mr. Hemantha said he had taken them to the police room where he had waited with them until the witnesses were escorted by Mr. Piyadasa (an officer of the Gangodawila Magistrate's Court) to the identification parade. He said the witnesses had no contact with anyone outside the room and added that he was not aware of the whereabouts of the accused in the court premises.
Under cross examination by Srinath Perera Mr. Hemantha said he had not recorded a statement as he had not taken his information book.
In reply to a question he said he could not recall on how many previous occasions he had escorted witnesses for an identification parade.
When Mr. Perera suggested that he had been sent to the Athas's home for showing photocopies of the photographs of the accused to the witnesses Mr. Hemantha denied having done so.
In reply to a question by Anil Silva Mr. Hemantha denied receiving an envelope from Inspector Dha-mmika to be taken to the witnesses. He also said he was not aware of who the witnesses were.
Mr. Hemantha said having received an address from Inspector Dhammika he proceeded to the Athas's residence. Answering a question he said he did not know whether they were ready to go for the identification parade on his arrival.
He denied Mr. Silva's suggestion that he was sent to the Athas's home to deliver a letter containing photocopied pictures of the accused and the purpose of calling Inspector Dhammika was to report that such an order was successfully carried out.
He said he did not deliver any such letter and the purpose of the call was to report that all the witnesses were present for the identification parade. He also said he received orders from Inspector Dhammika to take the witnesses to the Gangodawila Magistrate's Court under escort.
Daya Perera PC with T. G. Gunesekera and G. G. Ponnambalam watched the interests of Iqbal and Anoma Athas. Senior state counsel P. P. Surasena appeared for the prosecution.
Srinath Perera PC appeared for the 1st accused while Anil Silva represented the 2nd accused.
The trial was put off for October 26.
By Chandani Kirinde
Former Cricket Board president Thilanga Sumathipala has been embroiled in a political storm with allegations that he brokered the defection of many prominent PA members to join the main opposition UNP.
In an interview with The Sunday Times Mr.Sumathipala dismissed the allegation that he offered financial incentives to the defecting MPs as "fabricated." However, he said he was happy about the turn of events that came about as the result of their departure from the government ranks.
Responding to allegations made by Minister Samaraweera about links with the LTTE he said "It's a totally fabricated story. He is trying to victimize me and trying to drag people like us into a political controversy. I have nothing to do with the LTTE."
Mr. Sumathipala referring to Mr. Samaraweera's allegation that a Tamil politician who had connections with the LTTE had given him money said the whole world was trying to bring terrorists to the democratic process."Mr. Samara-weera is not only trying to discredit and defame me but he is also discrediting and defaming the socalled Tamil politicians who are part of our society. They are Sri Lankans. One day they are talking peace and say they want the LTTE to lay down arms and join the democratic process. At the same time they criticise the LTTE as a terrorist organisation. Is this the kind of people who are trying to develop the country?" he asked.
Mr. Sumathipala denied having spent a single cent on any of these politicians who defected from the PA government.
"When something is done against the government, they bring the money factor into it. Take Anura Bandara-naike crossing over to the PA.They say it was based on policy and principles. If the defecting person happens to from another class, the government will bring in the money factor into it," he said.
Responding to a question whether he was in any way instrumental in bringing about the defections in the PA, Mr. Sumathipala said: "In the discussions with S. B. Dissnayake and few others, I told them that the country was going from bad to worse and that they had a duty by the country. I think it is all obvious now. I am totally happy for what has happened for this country when they crossed over. I feel this decision was taken in the correct spirit, in the interest of the country's economy and its future."
Mr. Sumathipala denying rumours that he was planning to enter politics said he would confine himself to his projects as an administrator. He said he would complain to the IGP as he was getting many threatening telephone calls after the President and Mr. Samaraweera charged that he was responsible for toppling the PA regime.
From Neville de Silva in London
The Commonwealth's failure to address terrorism as a priority issue before the September 11 attacks on the United States has come under heavy fire.
In an article headlined "The appalling silence of the Commonwealth", Derek Ingram an expert on Commonwealth affairs wrote: 'If in years to come historians ask "where was the Commonwealth when the world changed on 11 September", the answer could well be "Nowhere to be seen"'.
Writing last week for the Gemini News Service, London, Mr. Ingram who has covered every Commonwealth heads of government meeting since the second world war says: "The Commonwealth, it seems, has lost its voice at a time when it was never more needed.".
Analysts point out that it was left to Sri Lanka's President Chandrika Kumaratunga to take an initiative that should have been undertaken by the Commonwealth when she wrote to Commonwealth leaders, rallying them to form a Commonwealth coalition against terrorism.
After President Kumaratunga's appeal to Commonwealth leaders to help end the scourge of terrorism, Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon welcomed the call and made the first statement of some length on the subject.
Mr. McKinnon's comments were contained in a media statement released on October 11, exactly one month after the terrorist attacks in the United States.
On September 19, while launching his biennial report for the Commonwealth summit, he did say that the Commonwealth had a major role in fighting terrorism.
But when asked by Colombo-based The Sunday Times, the first among the Commonwealth media to take up the issue of Commonwealth neglect, why his report does not even mention the word terrorism even once, Mr McKinnon's answer was that it was published before the terrorist atrocities.