Wanted fugitive, Udayanga Weeratunga, former Ambassador to Russia, was escorted to Colombo from Dubai by two Criminal Investigation Department (CID) detectives at dawn on Friday and driven from the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) straight to the CID headquarters where a statement was recorded from him for well over five hours. It related to the procurement [...]


Udayanga Weeratunga escorted to Colombo by CID detectives


Udayanga Weeratunga being taken to prison to be remanded on Friday night

Wanted fugitive, Udayanga Weeratunga, former Ambassador to Russia, was escorted to Colombo from Dubai by two Criminal Investigation Department (CID) detectives at dawn on Friday and driven from the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) straight to the CID headquarters where a statement was recorded from him for well over five hours.

It related to the procurement of MiG-27 fighter jets for the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) in 2006. CID detectives said further statements would be recorded from him.

He was later produced before Colombo Fort’s Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake on Friday and remanded till tomorrow.

Mr Weeratunga, against whom there was a warrant, had been detained in Dubai in the past several months by the Police there. The intimation came to Sri Lanka Police just days before last November’s presidential elections to visit the emirate and take charge of him. However, as the local Police were deployed on election duty, action was delayed.

A two-member CID team – ASP Vijitha Perera and Chief Inspector Weerasinghe – flew to Dubai early this week. They returned together with Mr Weeratunga on SriLankan Airlines flight UL 208 from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the Emirates arriving in Colombo at 4.52 a.m.

However, in Colombo, Police sources claimed that Mr Weeratunga travelled on his own as a passenger from Dubai and was arrested only on arrival. These sources also said that the former Russian envoy had alleged that he faced political victimisation and was not involved in any wrongdoing.

Kotte MC gets tough on stray dog menace

Kotte’s Municipal Commissioner has got tough on persons feeding stray dogs, warning that action would be taken against them under the Rabies Ordinance.

This is after a complaint was lodged by a resident on Devala Lane that stray dogs were causing a threat to them.

Accordingly, Kotte’s Municipal Commissioner A.D.S. Sadika has sent out a warning to the residents that if persons provide food to stray dogs they would be considered as the owners of the dog and action would be initiated against them.

The move has left residents who feed stray dogs pondering whether action would be initiated against them in other areas of the Kotte area, as feeding of stray dogs is not uncommon.

Marshy land mired in politics

A controversy has risen over a marshy land beside the road leading to the Parliamentary complex in Kotte.

The marshy land extending around two acres is located at Rajamalwatta between the Lands Ministry and the Agriculture Ministry.

The Lands Ministry acquired the land as a flood retention area and has entrusted the responsibility to the Agriculture Ministry.

However, a person who claims ownership to the land has now put up a board that the particular land was for sale.

Ironically, both the Lands and Agriculture Ministries are in the vicinity of the particular land, but no action has been initiated to prevent the sale of the land.

The man who claims ownership reportedly was linked to a former cabinet minister and questions are raised whether the political connection was the reason that no action was taken to establish ownership.


State-of-the-art Jaffna Cultural Centre ready: Controversy sorted out

The Rs 1.2 billion Indian-funded Jaffna Cultural Centre, a gift from the Indian people, is expected to be declared open soon, as construction work has been completed.

Cut a fresh controversy has erupted as to who is going to maintain this massive twelve-storey state-of-the-art building in the heart of Jaffna. As per the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the two countries, the completed complex should be handed over to the Jaffna Municipal Council (JMC).

However, this took a different turn when Minister Arumugam Thondaman who was accompanying Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to New Delhi last week requested the Indian side that this complex should come under the purview of the Central government in Colombo, given the massive cadre and financial assistance needed by the JMC to maintain it.

The Indian officials who were sceptical of how this would be viewed by Jaffna residents ruled out the request saying that it should be vested with the JMC and the Central government can only assist the council to run it.

“The Government of India will hand over the completed project to the government of Sri Lanka (GOSL). The GOSL shall hand over the building to the Municipal Council of Jaffna. The GOSL shall assess and provide financial and human resources required for running the Cultural Centre. The recurring expenditure on the maintenance and running of the Centre shall be the responsibility of the Municipal Council of Jaffna,” a clause in the MoU signed between the two countries said.

According to the MoU, the purpose of the Jaffna Cultural Centre is to provide suitable social infrastructure for the people of the Northern Province, especially for the people of Jaffna, to help them to reconnect with their cultural roots and the rest of the country and to rejuvenate and nurture the ancient cultural heritage of Jaffna.

The complex would consist of a cultural museum, auditorium, learning facilities and public areas for common use. The JMC is planning to rent out office spaces for government offices to increase its revenue to meet maintenance costs.

Criticising such attempts by the Central government to take over the building as violation of the country’s Constitution, Jaffna Mayor E. Arnold said the council would never allow such a takeover be it the Provincial Council or Central government.

“The Central government has to support us to recruit new cadre and other necessary facilities to run this Centre by ourselves. We’ve had a discussion with the Governor on this and she had assured us her support in this regard,” Mayor Arnold said.

Jaffna district secretary quits early

Ahead of parliamentary elections a major shake-up of senior government employees in the North raised some concerns among administrative circles.

This week, Jaffna District Secretary N Vethanayahan submitted his early retirement papers after he was informed of an administrative transfer three months before reaching his retirement age.

As a veteran civil service employee whose career spans over three decades including serving in some of the most difficult times at the District Secretariat in Kilinochchi, he bade farewell to his office staff on Friday. The ceremony was organised by employees at the Jaffna kachcheri.

Other District Secretaries of Kilinochchi, Mannar and Mullaitivu have also been transferred.

Mr Vethanayahan is not the only person who faced this dilemma of being forced to submit early retirement papers ahead of scheduled time. Weeks ago, Batticaloa District Secretary R Uthayakumar also submitted his papers following a transfer order sent to him.

The current Mannar District Secretary C A Mohan Ras was also among those who were transferred but he, somehow was able to secure a halt to the transfer until he retires on July 5. It is said that his transfer was put on hold after influential civil society persons and clergy took up the issue with higher-ups in the government.

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