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15th November 1998
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War dance
War dance: The National Alliance for Peace which 
had its inaugural meeting at the Public Library marred 
by a crowd demanding war. Here protestors are seen outside the auditorium objecting to the alliance's call for peace. 
Pic by Gamini Abeysekera
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Mother remanded as her child is sexually abused

By our legal correspondent
A man who is alleged to have committed gross sexual abuse on a seven-year-old child has been released on bail while the child's mother has been remanded for allegedly throwing hot water on the suspect in outrage.

In this shocking case with its strange twist of justice, the Dehiwela police had first produced the suspect in court on an allegation that he committed an act of gross sexual abuse on the child who is his wife's sister's daughter. 

The suspect had allegedly taken the girl in his van and got her to commit oral sex. Later the suspect had tried to rape the girl but failed, the girl's mother told police. 

The girl's mother said that when she saw what the suspect had tried to do to her child, she had gone into a frenzy and thrown hot water on him.

The police then arrived, arrested the suspect and produced in court under the Penal Code's section 365 (b) which is generally interpreted as a non-bailable offence and punishable with a jail term of upto twenty years with a heavy fine. 

The Dehiwela Police asked that the suspect be remanded till Tuesday as inquiries were not complete and as this offence was non-bailable. But the magistrate released the suspect on bail despite objections by the police and the lawyer who appeared for the mother. 

The nightmare did not end there. The next day, the mother received a number of threatening calls, saying the suspect would destroy them. She then went to the Dehiwela police to complain about the threats but a horrible shock awaited her there. 

Instead of getting relief or protection from the threats, the mother was arrested for throwing hot water on the suspect.

Worse was to follow. She was produced before a Magistrate for committing an offence of grievous hurt under the Penal Code section 316 which is a bailable offence. 

But the police moved that the mother be remanded for 14 days. So she was, leaving the child in the custody of her sister who is the wife of the alleged child abuser since the child's father has gone abroad for employment. The Sunday Times learns one of the reasons given by the magistrate to remand the mother of the child victim was that it was done for her own protection.

Prof. Savithri Goonasekera who headed a committee which drafted amendments to the Penal Code to punish the abusers of innocent children said that every rapist should be sent to jail with no discretion given to judges to suspend the sentence. Some Judges were of the view that they should have unfettered judicial discretion to decide on the sentence. 

Probe on alleged rape by Magistrate

By Ayesha Rafiq
A three member committee has been appointed by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) to look into an allegation of rape against Baddegama Magistrate Lenin Ratnaike.

The three man fact finding committee comprising Justices Hector Yapa, Asoka de Silva and T.B. Weerasooriya will be looking into the allegations made against Lenin Ratnaike by the Ravaya newspaper.

JSC Secretary Dhammika Kitul-goda confirmed that the committee had been appointed.

Ravaya which earlier this year accused Lenin Ratnaike of alleged rape, has now been asked to produce proof to support their story.

This is the second charge of alleged rape that has been levelled against the magistrate. Last year, when he was functioning as the Mahiyawa Magistrate, he was accused of the alleged rape of a remand suspect's wife.

It has also been reported that a committee has been appointed by Women's Affairs Minister Hema Ratnayake, to look into the second charge against the magistrate.

Pre-emptive strike on LTTE in South Africa

Kadirgamar in talks with ANC 
By Our Diplomatic Correspondent
Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar flew to South Africa yesterday on what has been described as a mission to pre-empt LTTE plans to shift its international political base to that country.

The minister's visit comes in the backdrop of a request by Sri Lanka to South Africa to look into what it believes is heightened LTTE activity in South Africa following tough new anti-terrorism laws coming into place in Britain from where the Tigers directed their international operations.

Mr. Kadirgamar had extensive talks with the visiting British Deputy Foreign Minister Derrek Fatchett earlier this week in Colombo on the new anti-terrorism laws there.

The Foreign Minister will meet leading members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) during his visit to Pretoria in a move aimed at seeking their support to thwart LTTE activities.

Already South Africa media reports have exposed the existence of LTTE military training camps there, but its High Commission based in New Delhi and over-seeing Sri Lanka, has said the Mandela government will not tolerate such camps, nor will its Government provide any assistance to the LTTE.

The Sri Lanka Government suspects long-time LTTE links with ANC members who now hold high office in the post-apartheid South Africa.

An aide-memoire prepared by the Foreign Office is to be handed over by Mr. Kadirgamar to ANC leaders but it is learnt that it will not contain any material that has appeared in the local media about LTTE camps or other guerrilla activity connected to South Africa.

Instead the brief will contain submissions of a more political nature drawing from Sri Lanka's support for the ANC and its anti-apartheid struggle as well as a profile of the LTTE and its agenda in Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan Government is also keen on targeting South Africa's large Indian community which it believes could be a reservoir for LTTE propaganda by hammering home the message that it was the LTTE that assassinated Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. 

Govt. worried food going to feed LTTE

A row has erupted between the Ministry of Defence and the Government Agent of the Wanni District over disputed figures of displaced families in the LTTE controlled area.

This came as President Kumaratunga met for a second time in a week with Tamil political parties to iron out mounting problems of food supplies and stranded refugees in the North and East.

The President met delegations from the TULF and EPDP separately on Friday to work out solutions to the twin problems of food supplies and stranded refugees.

A discrepancy has arisen over the statistics of the number of displaced families in the Wanni district.

The Defence Ministry estimates the number of displaced families in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu at 13,000 and 8,300 respectively. The GA gives a higher figure of 36,000 and 28,000 .

Most of these families live in 'uncleared areas' now under the control of the LTTE, and the ministry fears that some of the food supplies from Colombo are ending up in LTTE camps.

The GA of the area is reportedly now halving the food stamp issued to each family so that he can double the number of families receiving supplies. The ministry however is sceptical of the figures provided by the GA. 

A statement issued by the Defence Ministry yesterday said, "the government has followed a consistent policy of supplying food requirements of the people in the North-East particularly in the uncleared areas of the Wanni, although it is common knowledge that the LTTE has been siphoning away a substantial part of these food supplies for its terrorist cadres.

" The Government's policy on food supplies remains the same as it has always been. However, from time to time there have been operational difficulties, delivery and distribution problems due to deliberate obstructions caused by the LTTE after it built up its own stocks from Government supplies". 

Meanwhile President Kumaratunga has announced plans to call for tenders for two fast-moving passenger ferries to operate on a regular basis between Trincomalee and Jaffna and between Mannar and Kulkatavan.

An estimated 7,500 people are stranded since October in Trincomalee and Jaffna after the last major skirmish between the LTTE and security forces in and around Mankulam and Kilinochchi. Thousands of soldiers are also stranded in the Northern Jaffna peninsula unable to come on home-leave due to the lack of military transport facilities.

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