News in brief

All set for March 20 islandwide census
By Chandani Kirinde

A task force of some 100,000 trained persons will be deployed on March 20 to conduct Sri Lanka’s first comprehensive Census of Population and Housing in more than 30 years. The last islandwide census was held in 1981.

The time frame for the census has been finalised. The schedule covers the weeks between February 27 and March 19, while the actual head count will take place on March 20, with a revision round held the following day, March 21.

Information will be collected from all Sri Lankan residents. The data will include basic details such as name, date of birth, marital status, religion, ethnicity, educational attainments, as well as speaking, reading and writing abilities, etc.

The census questionnaire also covers information about residents’ computer literacy and whether they have communication equipment and access to the Internet from their homes. Residents will be asked to give reasons for migration from one district to another should they be living in an area that is not the district of their birth. There will also be questions relating to physical and mental health.

Export firm manager secretly filmed Facebook friends and posted nude images on the Net

By Damith Wickremasekara

A manager of a tea export company has been arrested on a charge of photographing and videoing young women in compromising positions and placing the images on pornographic websites and Facebook accounts. It is alleged that the man had taken the photographs and videos after promising to marry the women.

According to the Cyber Crime Division of the Criminal Investigation Department, the manager had used office equipment to upload the offensive materials, and had also sought the technical help of staff working for a mobile phone company.

A CID officer told the Sunday Times that the man’s modus operandi was to make friends with females on the social network Facebook and then invite them to tea or lunch. He would then take them to a house he owned, and after putting them under the influence of alcohol and drugs, take intimate pictures of the women with hidden cameras. “He also made sure that he edited himself out of any of the photos or video footage,” the officer said.

The arrest came after one of the victims lodged a complaint with the Cyber Crime Division after finding her pictures on Facebook. In addition, she found that the materials had been forwarded to friends, relations and office colleagues. It is understood that the complaint was made to the CID after the victim had refused to continue a relationship with the export company manager.

Police who raided the company office found a large stock of nude photographs and videos of young women. The police seized all the photography and video equipment used by the manager. The mobile phone company employees who had assisted the manager have been identified and are due to be taken into custody, the CID officer said.

In 2011, the CID’s Cyber Crime Division received more than 320 complaints relating to cases of blackmail, computer hacking, illegal transactions, data theft, and the posting of nude pictures, including manipulated images showing the faces of unsuspecting persons superimposed on nude bodies.
“Our unit has all the facilities required to investigate cases of cyber offences,” the CID officer told the Sunday Times. “Members of the public who have complaints of criminal use of information technology and the internet are welcome to seek our assistance,” he said.

Jeweller remanded for robbing another jeweller

By L.B. Senaratne

Kandy Acting Magistrate Mahinda Liyange remanded till January 16, an owner of a jewellery shop on Yatinuawara Veediya, for the alleged robbery of silver, gold and cash amounting to Rs 9.4 million from another jewellery shop in Kandy.

The suspect, K. Nagalaeshwaran was produced before the acting Magistrate Liyanage on Saturday afternoon, following investigations conducted by Kandy Crimes Inspector K. Ruvindasiri. The suspect had allegedly broken into the other jewellery shop and robbed the valuables. Attorney-at-Law Nanda Senanayke appeared for the suspect.

Nuwara Eliya will remain cold for some time

Nuwara Eliya continues to be wrapped up in cold weather with the temperature dipping to 7.4 degrees Celsius, an official with the Department of Meteorology said yesterday.

The cold weather in the area was a result of the impending north-east monsoon conditions and the temperature was expected to remain so for some time, Duty Forecast officer B. G. Yasaratne said.
He added that the rest of the country will also experience fairly strong winds while light showers are expected in the Eastern and Uva provinces today.

The weather elsewhere in the country will remain fairly dry for most part of the week, he said.

Navy and NARA rescue stranded whale

By Padma Kumari

Navy personnel spent five hours in an operation to rescue a whale trapped in shallow waters off the coast of Kalpitiya. The giant mammal was towed out to sea with the help of a 12-foot belt strapped to its body.

The 38-foot whale was spotted struggling in water three feet deep, near the island of Mella. About 60 Navy officers took part in the rescue effort, which was supervised by staff of the National Aquatic Resources Agency (NARA) based in Kalpitiya. According to NARA, the whale belonged to the “fin whale” species.

SLPI panel discussion on women in media

The Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) will conduct a panel discussion on “Increasing the role of women in media” on Friday, January 20, 2012 from 10 am - 12 noon at the SLPI Auditorium, 96, Kirula Road Colombo-05.

In 2011 the SLPI commissioned a study titled: “An Assessment of Female Participation in Mainstream Media. It was the country’s first comprehensive study on the participation of females in media and the panel discussion is a follow- up to the report.

The panelists include:- Kumar Nadesan (Chairman of SLPI -Moderator)
Hon. Keheliya Rambukwelle (Minister of Mass Media & Information), Hanna Ibrahim (Editor -Ceylon Today), Joanna Butcher (CEO -National Council for the Training of Journalists -UK), Chethana Liyanage (Manager-Training & Development -Capital Maharaja Organization)
Shehan Baranage (Director News & Current Affairs –Derana)
Those wishing to participate should contact or call 5353635 on or before 12 noon on Thursday, January 19, 2012.

PNB gets its wires crossed

Suspects detained for 4 months till Govt. Analyst confirms suspicious substance as tranquiliser

By Telles Anandappa

Two Sri Lankans and a foreign national charged with trafficking in narcotics and held in detention for four months, were discharged by the Colombo Fort Magistrate, after the Government Analyst reported that the substance examined was an animal tranquiliser.Novin Koray, his wife Ms. Rukmali Kushanthi Novak and Yasantha Sanjaya Nagahawattha were arrested by the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) at their residence on August 16, 2011, on a tip-off given by the courier company that the parcel handed over by them, to be dispatched to the United States, was suspected to contain cocaine.

The PNB, along with armed Police personnel, took them in for questioning, and after interrogation for six days, they were produced before a Magistrate, and remanded till December 19, 2011.

When the case was taken up before Colombo Fort Magistrate Ms. Lanka Jayaratne, a report submitted by the Government Analyst stated that the contents examined contained Ketamine- a drug used on humans and also on animals as an anesthetic, and hence, the suspects cannot be charged under the Dangerous Drugs Control Act.

Accordingly, the PNB was ordered to inform the relevant authorities to consider whether charges could be filed under the Cosmetics Act. Meanwhile the passport of the foreign national was held by Courts for two weeks.

IGP orders probe into release of vehicle by police

The Inspector General of Police N.K. Illangakoon has ordered an inquiry into a complaint regarding the release of a vehicle by a police station in the suburbs of Colombo which had collided with a vehicle driven by a female ayurvedic physician. The accident occurred in Mahabage and the ayurvedic physician who was injured is presently warded at the Ragama hospital

According to the complaint the vehicle was released without an inquiry being held. The incident came to light when the father of the physician, himself a physician complained to the IGP and the Human Rights Commission.

The complainant physician claimed no effort was made by the police to send his injured daughter to the hospital while the person responsible for causing the accident and the vehicle concerned were released immediately and without an inquiry or an examination of the vehicle taking place.

The complainant further claimed he had been threatened by the police who ordered him to come to an amicable settlement with the person responsible for causing the accident.

Senior Superintendent of Police (Peliyagoda) A.K. Senaratne has been appointed to conduct the investigation.

Jaffna road expansion will not touch sacred or historical sites, says RDA

By N. Parameswaram

Four main roads in Jaffna have been earmarked for expansion, but fears have been expressed that the road work could damage sites of religious and archeological value. The roads are Point Pedro Road, Kankesanthurai Road, Manipay Road, and Palaly Road.

The Sivan Kovil

Concerned parties have pointed out that the road expansion could affect historical spots such as the gateway to the palace of the Last King of the Jaffna Sangiliyan, the Sivan temple in Jaffna, and the Hall of Jaffna Hindu College.

However, Jaffna engineer Moses Mariyathasan of the Road Development Authority (RDA) has given an assurance that the RDA “will not touch places of worship or historical monuments”, adding that there has been “some political pressure to stop the work beyond municipal limits.”Road expansion is necessary, the RDA has explained, because most roads in the Jaffna area are narrow and the sharp increase in vehicular traffic has “put a huge strain” on these roads.

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