PSD chief faces conspiracy charge
Indictment soon as new evidence emerges in Maturata case
The head of the controversial Presidential Security Division, Superintendent
of Police Nihal Karunaratne, a Parliamentarian and three others are likely
to be indicted by the Attorney General's Department on conspiracy charges
connected with incidents in Maturata during last December's Parliamentary
They are being accused of aiding and abetting nine others who are to
be indicted on a number of counts including mischief, unlawful assembly,
destroying state property and for violating provisions of the Firearms
Ordinance, Offensive Weapons Act and elections laws.
The nine include a sergeant and a constable from the PSD, an Army sergeant
and two corporals attached to the PSD, three private security guards from
Monaro Security Services and a civilian.
Besides, Superintendent Karunaratne, others who are to face conspiracy
charges are Ajantha Soysa, owner of Monaro Security Services and now a
People's Alliance Parliamentarian, Jayaratne Dissanayake, an unsuccesful
PA candidate for the Nuwara Eliya district at last year's general elections,
Sub Inspector Jayantha of the PSD and Mr. Sendanayake of Monaro Security
Indictments by the Attorney General's Department are the outcome of
investigations conducted by the Criminal Investigation Department. A team
led by ASP Ravi Waidyalankara and Inspector Janaka Senanayake was tasked
for the investigation by then Director Asoka Wijetilleka. The probe was
supervised by DIG Rufus Solangaarachchi.
The probe report now before the Attorney General's Department, The Sunday
Times learnt, has led to some startling revelations.
One is the finding that the persons allegedly involved in the incident
had in possession two pistols. One of them had been allegedly in the hands
of the sergeant attached to the PSD.
CID investigations had revealed that the two pistols in question had
been purchased by Monaro Security Services from the Sri Lanka Navy's armoury
The security firm's owner, MP Ajantha Soysa, had made an application
on November 21, last year, directly to a VVIP. The VVIP had granted approval
that very day and the Ministry of Defence had authorised the issue of the
two weapons on November 23.
It had been purchased from the Navy on November 29. There has been no
user permit for employees of the security firm to use the two pistols.
This was said to be in marked violation of laid down procedures.
Though the weapons were obtained by Monaro Security Services, it had
no documentary evidence to prove it had secured any ammunition. Yet, the
weapons were loaded with 9 mm ammo.
During CID investigations, PA candidate Jayaratne Dissanayake is learnt
to have claimed that the weapons were used by two Monaro Security Services
men to escort him from Colombo to Maturata. This was after he had arrived
at the party headquarters to collect Rs 200,000 for the polls campaign.
However, the CID report now with the Attorney General's Department says
the claim had been disproved since Mr. Dissanayake had been addressing
meetings in the Nuwara Eliya district during the period he claimed he was
Another startling find is that the nine persons involved in alleged
incidents had used two vehicles carrying forged number plates. CID investigations
had revealed that the two vehicles belonged to the Samurdhi Authority.
These were just two from a fleet of 13 vehicles which the Presidential
Security Division had taken charge on November 16, last year, from the
Samurdhi Authority. Directions to hand over these vehicles to the PSD had
been made by Cyril Gunapala, Secretary to the Samurdhi Ministry.
The events leading to the CID investigation were sparked off following
an incident on December 2, last year.
Just 200 metres outside a venue where now UNF Minister, S.B. Dissanayake,
was to address a public meeting in Padiyapellala, the officer-in-charge
of the Maturata Police had seen a group that arrived in two Double Cabs
smashing up a green Defender Land Rover. They were trying to get away when
SI Dissanayake had stood on the bonnet of the first one, aimed his pistol
at the driver and warned him to get down. Thereafter the nine occupants
in the two Double Cabs were arrested.
Subsequent events led to N.K. Illangakon, DIG (Presidential Security
Division) complaining to Police Chief Lucky Kodituwakku that the Maturata
Police had not conducted an impartial investigation. He urged Mr Kodituwakku
for an unbiased probe.
CID detectives who were detailed for the probe first recorded DIG Illangakoon's
statement. He had claimed that the PSD officers were sent to Maturata since
the President was due to visit the area. He said that frivolous charges
were made against the PSD men and that they were subject to harassment.
He had said that the Presidential visit had later been cancelled.
But the PSD men and others are alleged to have been in possession of
weapons including a grenade launcher - items which the CID contends are
not required for surveillance.
Yet another 'logistics run' by LTTE
Whilst Navy top brass were at a cocktail party at the Eastern Area Headquarters
in Trincomalee, Sea Tiger rebels carried out a successful logistics run
from the deep seas off Mullaitivu on Friday night.
What the consignments contained is still not clear to the authorities.
State intelligence agencies were busy yesterday trying to ascertain what
it contained. Soon after the news of the logistics move reached Colombo
on Friday night, Army Headquarters placed troops countrywide on full alert.
Extra precautionary measures went into effect in the city and suburbs.
Friday's logistics move, intelligence sources say, is the fourth since
the LTTE declared a cessation of hostilities on Christmas eve last year.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is away in Singapore, is learnt
to have been apprised of the situation. (See Situation
Report by Iqbal Athas for details.)
Choksy considers VAT
The government is considering the introduction of the VAT as a replacement
for GST and the NSL, among other tax measures, said Finance Minister K.N.
"The VAT (Value Added Tax) is among several measures being considered
under plans to rationalize the tax system," he told The Sunday Times.
The budget is to be presented on March 18
GST (Goods and Services Tax) and NSL (National Services Levy) were taxes
at 12.5 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively, introduced many years ago.
Officials said revenues under GST did not meet expected targets while there
was criticism that it affected middle and lower classes though essential
foods like milk and sugar were exempted.
But economists argue that introduction of the VAT is merely a name change
and unlikely to widen or reduce the tax base. "GST covers most the items
and replacing it with VAT may not bring in targeted revenues unless there
is proper collection," one economist said.
Mr. Choksy said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had also made
proposals on tax changes, noting that an IMF team in Sri Lanka last week
on an annual budget review mission was satisfied with the reforms programme
of the new government.
He said the team led by Jeremy Cater had two meetings with Prime Minister
Ranil Wickremesinghe and himself. The Finance Minister said the IMF Standby
Credit facility, which had been partially disbursed, would be re-worked
and ready for implementation after the budget.
Norwegians preparing their own truce draft
The Norwegian government will now provide its own draft agreement for a
mutually-acceptable ceasefire between the government and the LTTE, The
Sunday Times learns.
According to diplomatic sources, the Norwegian facilitators will come
up with their own draft after earlier copies were leaked to the foreign
and local media.
The document had leaked to the media while the Norwegian facilitators
led by Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen had still been in Colombo
meeting government leaders.
Norwegian diplomats in Colombo had admitted that a seven page document
containing provisions for a mutual ceasefire had leaked to the media. They
believe it went first to a London-based news service, and diplomatic pressure
had been applied to stop the story from being sent worldwide.
The embarrassed Royal Norwegian embassy in Colombo then denied last
Sunday that there was a "formal ceasefire proposal yet presented to the
parties", and that "various drafts of different character have been subjected
The embassy statement said that only "parts of a draft" had been circulated
in the media, giving rise to added fears that more provisions were to be
incorporated into the agreement.
The Sunday Times learns, however, that three copies of the draft agreement
were in fact given to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. One copy, it
is learnt, had been in the possession of LTTE's chief negotiator Anton
Balasingham in London whom Mr. Helgesen had met before arriving in Colombo.
The draft agreement which provided for a detailed truce as a precursor
to starting peace talks, attracted widespread criticism by nationalist
groups such as the National Joint Committee, a federation of Sinhala and
One of the criticisms was that the agreement recognised the LTTE as
an equal party to that of the government. There were provisions also to
ensure that the Sri Lanka government could only protect its sovereignty
at sea from "external aggression".
The LTTE was permitted to engage in political work in government-controlled
areas, and there was to be a freeze in the strength of the Sri Lanka Army
as well as the LTTE.
The direct Norwegian intervention to draft its own agreement, dis-owning
the previous drafts also by the Norwegians, and already given to the Sri
Lankan government,comes in the wake of the unlikelihood of a mutually acceptable
ceasefire agreement being signed before February 24, the date when the
current unilateral ceasefire by both sides lapses.
This seemed to signal that there was no immediate possibility of any
agreement being reached for a permanent or, long-term ceasefire, nor any
signs of an early start to peace talks.
Both the government and the LTTE are expected to extend the unilateral
truce by another month, but the Norwegians are looking at a long term cessation
of hostilities in order to start substantial peace negotiations thereafter.