dealers (nameless) against me
, Resettlement and Refugees Minister Jayalath Jayawardena, who is
said to be in the bad books of the LTTE and banned from entering LTTE-controlled
Wanni, denies allegations that the rebels have imposed restrictions
on him entering the north and says he is willing to face any probe
on allegations of corruption or misuse of power.
who visited Jaffna yesterday after a long absence, says he will
be visiting the Kilonochchi area within the next fortnight for a
medical camp to donate 100 wheel chairs and will continue to carry
out his ministerial work in the north. Excerpts from the interview.
say the LTTE is objecting to your presence in the areas controlled
That is not correct. I have travelled several times through
LTTE-controlled areas and I was the first Sinhala cabinet minister
to go on the A-9 highway. In two weeks time, I will be holding a
medical camp in the Kilinochchi district to donate some 100 wheel
chairs. If the LTTE does not want my presence, why is it allowing
me to work in LTTE-controlled areas?.
LTTE members have not met you?
won't give names but I am dealing with an NGO called Tamil Rehabilitation
Organisation, which is linked to the LTTE. It provides relief to
widows and orphans. I was recently invited by the TRO to see its
de-mining project in Kilinochchi.
been involved in work in the north before the UNF came to office,
but the LTTE's political wing leader S. P. Thamilchelvan who has
met leaders of many parties has still not met you or you have not
If the opportunity
comes I will meet him. There is no problem that I cannot meet him.
So you deny that the LTTE does not want you to come there?
If so, from
where are they coming?
In the past
few weeks, baseless and malicious allegations are made against me
by individuals or groups which are gunning for me for some reason.
be more specific or name names?
Not yet. Let
me say this. My campaign for peace and ethnic unity started long
before the UNF came to office. Even as an opposition member, I had
the courage to visit the Wanni, despite allegations that I was a
spy and the link between the UNP and the LTTE. The state media were
used for a full-scale attack, portraying me as a traitor.
My wife could
not go to the market, my children to school or my mother to church.
My whole family went through a trauma. Some of the charges were
made by President Kumaratunga herself but I could not take any legal
action because she had immunity.
in the past. Now different allegations are being made against you?
With the blessings
of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, I have since the UNF came
to office worked hard and achieved much for the poor people of the
north. Arms dealers are dead against me. People who have been earning
millions of dollars out of war are against me. Arms dealers' money
can be used to discredit or even destroy me physically.
name names please?
is such a move but I cannot name names now. They will be disclosed
appropriate time. There have been specific allegations against you.
One linked to the reconstruction of a main road in the north. Construction
of roads comes under the Ministry of Highways and the Road Development
Authority. My ministry has nothing to do with.
Did your family get a road construction project?
My father was a civil contractor and started his business in
the 1940s. When he died in 1972, I was still a schoolboy awaiting
A/L results and my mother took over the business. She ran it herself
till 1996 when my sister was brought in as a partner and the company
was registered again..
Were they actively involved in business before the UNF came to office
and did they carry out any construction work?
It was registered as a civil engineering company during the previous
government. It was doing construction of state buildings and I have
details regarding contracts. So it is not correct to say that the
company suddenly got active after the UNF came to office.
What about the particular road in the north?
The RDA called for public tenders in February. My mother's
company applied and was selected by the RDA because it gave the
lowest tender. I have documents to show this. Just because I am
a minister, can't my family members earn a living legitimately?
There is no proof that I influenced anyone.
What about the allegations relating to commissions from dry rations
being sent to the north?
My ministry secretary is a senior civil servant. There is a
cabinet appointed tender board which decides on suppliers, prices,
quantities in a transparent manner. I am not directly involved in
What about the allegation that you rented an apartment at JAIC
Hilton for US dollars 2600 (about Rs. 250,000) a month.
I have a letter from the General Manager of JAIC Hilton denying
What has the Prime Minister said about the allegations against
He did not ask me anything but on my own I have given him all
Have you been sidelined from rehabilitation work in the north ?
No. I was the chief guest at yesterday's trade fair in Jaffna.
tragedy behind a two-year-old child's death
Dilshan Lakmal was like any other two-year-old
child. He played with his two older siblings and did naughty things
that all young children do. But unlike most other children, Lakmal
met his death last week as a result of an internal wound allegedly
caused by a beating by his mother.
incident occurred in the Mawella area in Kelaniya with neighbours
claiming that children in house were beaten up by their mother frequently.
Today she and
her sister-in-law are in remand for causing Lakmal's death and his
remaining siblings are left alone with the father, a hearing impaired
suffered from many physical ailments. A few days before his death,
he had a breathing difficulty and I took him to the National Hospital.
He was there for three days and he died. It was only after the post-mortem
the doctors said his heart had been damaged by a blow," the
said that the incident was a result of an accidental beating. "My
wife had been angry and had given him a blow. Two of his ribs had
been broken as a result and his heart had been affected," the
man said after visiting his wife in the Welikada prison.
police who are investigating the incident admitted that the neighbours
had complained to them on a few occasions and the woman had been
warned not to beat the children.
of the Women's and Children's Section of the Peliyagoda police said
the main suspect (the mother) who did odd jobs in houses to make
a little money seemed to have been directing her frustrations caused
by poverty at her young children.
The other two
children Krishantha (8) and Chalani (5) used to attend a neighbourhood
school but these days as they cannot be left alone at home, they
are forced to accompany the father when he goes out for work.
in a difficult situation without their mother. There is no one to
look after these children," the father lamented. For him the
sorrow of losing his young child has been compounded by the burden
of how he could raise his two other children with his meagre earnings.
Senate backs Lanka's peace process
Senate has passed a resolution supporting Sri Lanka's peace process
and called on the international community to support the process
and lend assistance to the reconstruction of war-damaged areas.
passed this week said the US was willing to "lend its good
offices to play a constructive role in supporting the peace process,
if so desired by all parties of the conflict".
was passed 10 days after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe met
US President George W. Bush who pledged full support for the peace
the ongoing ceasefire between the Sri Lankan government and the
LTTE and the government decision to lift travel restrictions on
It called on
both the government and the LTTE to recognize that adherence to
internationally recognized human rights facilitated the building
of trust necessary for an equitable and sustainable peace.
also called on the parties to negotiate in good faith with a view
to finding a 'just and lasting political settlement to Sri Lanka's
ethnic conflict while respecting the territorial integrity of Sri
refused for ex-Air Force officers
By Laila Nasry
The Colombo High Court last Thursday refused bail
for two Air Force officers convicted for criminal intimidation,
trespass and unlawful entry with weapons into the home of The Sunday
Times Consultant Editor and Defence Correspondent Iqbal Athas.
the judgment in the application for bail pending appeal, filed on
behalf of the two Air Force officers, Rukman Herath and Sujeewa
Kannangara by their wives, High Court judge Sarath Ambepitiya dismissed
the case stating the exceptional circumstances as urged by the defence
to be considered were not of such a nature and therefore bail would
not be granted.
The judge said
that there was no legal precedence as to what these exceptional
circumstances could be and therefore he believed such circumstances
should be determined on a case by case basis.
On the previous
date when the application was taken up for argument both counsel
for the defence, Srinath Perera PC and Mr. Ranjit Abeysuriya PC
urged court to consider granting bail under exceptional circumstances,
submitting that the judge had the discretion to grant bail under
such circumstances and that he should not feel in any way that his
hands were tied.
Counsel P.P. Surasena countering the argument said that to consider
this an exceptional case which demanded exceptional concessions
would only invite more persons in similar situations urging court
to do the same.
the judgment, court considered the exceptional nature of the grounds
for bail as submitted by the two counsel on behalf of their clients
- the main factor being the wives and the children suffering as
a result of the convictions and absence of the convicts from home.
citing the illness of his client's daughter as a strong factor in
support of bail submitted two reports one by a paediatrician and
the other by a psychiatrist. The reports said that the behaviour
of the child had changed subsequent to the conviction and that currently
she remained psychologically disturbed.
too, citing the miscarriage suffered by the wife of his client as
a result of her husband's conviction urged bail adding that the
child would also benefit by having the father home.
in the judgment it was held that consequences to the family were
not exclusive to this case alone and often inevitable in a conviction
and thus did not amount to an exceptional situation.
was stated that respectability was not a ground for bail. Mr. Abeysuriya,
in support of bail, had submitted on the previous occasion that
his client Kannangara came from a family with a legal background
and the chances of him absconding consequent to bail being granted
were remote as he had been present in court on all 30 trial dates.
Mr. Perera too made similar submissions stating his client Rukman
Herath had an unblemished service record in the Air Force, and that
the likelihood of his client absconding was remote.
The court also
referred to the time limit factor urged by the defence stating that
bail should be granted in the interim of appeal which would take
two years and also the defence submission that it was Ms. Athas
and not Mr. Athas who had identified the 2nd accused Kannangara.
The defence argued that these factors should be considered for bail
as the chances of the case succeeding in appeal were great. But
the court dismissed this argument by saying that they were not grounds
on which bail could be preferred.
Rukman Herath and Squadron Leader Sujeewa Kannangara were found
guilty on two counts namely for committing the offence of entering
the Athas residence on February 12, 1998 and for criminal intimidation
towards Mr. Athas by threatening to cause grievous hurt by using
Both were sentenced
to seven years RI each for the first count and two years RI for
the second count. They were also ordered to pay a fine of Rs. 10,000
in the event of default, one year RI.
Counsel P. P. Surasena appeared for the prosecution. Srinath Perera
PC with Christopher de Alwis and Senerat Jayatunga appeared for
Rukman Herath. Ranjit Abeysuriya PC with Duncan de Silva appeared
for Sujeewa Kannangara.