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29th November 1998

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I Love you Thaththi: Serala, the daughter of the
slain DUNF leader Lalith Athulathmudali singing in
honour of her father ata memorial oration held at the
Galle Face Hotel on Friday.
Pic by Ranjith Perera.
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Police take law unto their hands

New legal department set up to defend officers: workload taken from AG's Department

The Police Department has set up its own legal division after a recent row with the Attorney General over the arrest of a High Court Judge.

Police Chief Lucky Kodithuwakku has appointed Senior Superintendent Michael Attygalle, an attorney-at-law, to head the new division. Senior Superintendent Jeyakumar Thangavelu, was also posted to the new division as Deputy Director. He was until then, SSP in charge of the IGP's Command Room at Mirihana.

The legal division will be located in the old Police Headquarters building in Fort.

Police sources said yesterday that the Department would recruit at least four more lawyers from the unofficial bar and assign them the rank of Resources Assistant Superintendents of Police.

The main task of the legal division will be to defend police officers charged or brought before court on alleged offences whilst "in charge of their lawful duties".

A resolution calling upon the setting up of a legal division, like in the Army, was adopted on September 24.

Former CID Director Bandula Wickramasinghe was transferred to the CDB on the directions of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga after his alleged involvement in the arrest of Judge Tillekeratne.

Last Tuesday Mr. Wickramasinghe was ordered by the Court of Appeal to show cause as to why he should not be punished for contempt of Court.

Judge Tillekeratne was arrested for alleged grievous assault of his neighbour, Army Sgt Somapala. Mr. Tillekeratne was released on bail and the warrant for his arrest was withdrawn by the Magistrate, but he was arrested the next day by a CID team led by Mr. Wickramasinghe.

Prabha talking peace, no govt. response

LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran on Friday declared he is prepared for a "negotiated political settlement if peace talks are mediated by a third party."

Though he declared "we are not stipulating any pre-conditions for talks", Mr. Prabhakaran said they should be held in what he called an "atmosphere of peace and normalcy, free from the conditions of war, military aggression and economic blockades."

His remarks came in his annual "Heroes Week" speech broadcast by the clandestine Voice of Tigers radio and heard in the Wanni area.

There was no official Government response to his latest remarks. However, a Ministerial source, who did not wish to be identified, declared "even peace offers appear to be part of his war strategy. He said there would be no conditions but that is exactly what he lays down when he calls for new atmospheres." He also pointed out that President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga had already ruled out any third party mediation in Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict.

Mr. Prabhakaran who spoke for nearly 25 minutes claimed "we have not closed the doors for peace. We are open to the civilised method of resolving conflicts through rational dialogue."

The text of Prabhakaran's speech was faxed to Colombo-based local and foreign media by the so-called LTTE International Secretariat in London. In addition, the Tamil website Tamilnet on the internet also gave full details of what he said.

Claiming that "Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism and militarism in Sri Lankan politics" had become "stumbling blocks for a negotiated political settlement of the Tamil ethnic conflict" Mr. Prabhakaran also strongly criticised President Kumaratunga.

"We do not believe that Chandrika, who has become the author of the most blood stained chapter in the history of oppression of the Tamils will bring peace to the country by resolving the Tamil national issue by peaceful means," Mr. Prabhakaran said adding that "she is a firm believer in a military solution and lives in an illusion that political conflicts can be solved by military means."Meanwhile Tamil political parties yesterday urged the government to make use of Mr. Prabhakaran's offer for a negotiated settlement and resume talks with third party mediation.

PLOTE leader D.Sidharthan told The Sunday Times it was a good opportunity to the government to break the stalemate.

"The core element is what to talk, not whether to talk or not" he said.

"The PA and the UNP must reach a consensus on the proposals to be put to the LTTE. Otherwise there will be no meaning in the talks. Government should give serious consideration to bring in third party mediation," he said.

EPDP leader Douglas Devananda said, "The war should be stopped. A feasible political solution should be found.

"Two hands are needed to clap if sound is to be evoked. Both sides are claiming that they are keeping the doors open for peace. However the doors are kept open only in words. Such attitudinal approach needs to be changed," he said.

TULF Parliamentary group leader Joseph Pararajasingham said there is a good opportunity for the government which has always been saying that there was no commitment from the LTTE leader with regard to negotiation.

"Prabhakaran has come out with a statement. The ball is now in the government's court. Government must make use of this opportunity to pave the way for a negotiated settlement of the ethnic issue," he said.

"There is an opinion among the Tamils that the government is pursuing a military solution. Any delay by the government to make use of this opportunity will strengthen the suspicion that the government is indeed pursuing a military solution," he said.

TELO leader M.K.Sivajilingam welcomed unconditional talks with third party mediation but commented that both sides are, insisting on pre-conditions.

"The government is stipulating that the LTTE should lay down a portion of their arms while the LTTE is requiring that military camps should be withdrawn," he added.

"As both sides are not trusting each other, a third party mediation is a must. Three issues immediate cease-fire, unconditional talks, third party mediation are crucial for a pragmatic political solution and a viable peace," he said.

EPRLF leader Suresh Premachandran said, "We have always told the government as well as the international community that without third party mediation, it will be difficult to have proper negotiation.

"The LTTE has said that there was no need for pre-conditions. Hence, the LTTE, too, should not lay down any pre-conditions. It is always better to work out a timeframe for this negotiation."

Package in Parliament before polls

Government's devolution proposals are likely to be presented in parliament before elections next year, despite UNP's refusal to support them, The Sunday Times learns.

The Strategy and Research Committee of the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, is meeting next Thursday to discuss Government plans of putting forward the devolution package in Parliament.

The Co-ordinator of the Committee, Jayampathy Wickremaratne, has written to its members informing that the Government is seriously considering presenting the constitutional bill before Parliament.

The move comes in the wake of a declaration by the UNP that it will not provide the 16 votes needed for the Government to pass the package with a two thirds majority.

UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has refused to support the devolution package claiming that the party will not contribute to the division of the country. He told a meeting at Mawanella that he did not understand how devolution of power would help end the war and bring peace to the country.

Row in Canada over Tiger spy

A dispute over the role of an LTTE member has forced Canada's main national intelligence agency to lock horns with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

The spy agency, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), has declared that it will block any attempt to disclose sealed court records relating to an unprecedented RCMP probe on its members.

Citing national security, the CSIS has told the Toronto newspaper Globe and Mail that it "will be obliged to avail itself of the legal remedies available to protect the document and its contents."

The Globe and Mail said "the document, a letter about the immigration status of an alleged high-ranking Tiger terrorist, was seized by the Mounties at the headquarters of the Citizenship and Immigration Dept.

"RCMP officers executed a search warrant at the department last summer, looking for evidence that CSIS members obstructed justice, forged a letter to Immigration, produced the forged letter and conspired in those offences.

"Corporal Fred Bowen of the RCMP detachment at Milton, Ontario, found a letter, but it and part of a search warrant information naming the CSIS agents have been sealed under judicial orders. After months of investigation and a meeting with CSIS, the RCMP decided against laying charges."

The Sunday Times learns that the LTTE cadre in question had helped the RCMP to translate tapped telephone conversations of Tamils living in Canada who were suspected of LTTE connections.

The LTTEer in question was described by some as a mole while others said Canadian authorities recruited him on the strength of recommendations made by Lankan intelligence authorities.

Have money; win Lanka colours

Qualifications are not a criterion when sportspersons are selected to represent the country abroad they need only the backing of certain VIPs, perhaps at a price.

Such a system offers big businessmen and the super rich an opportunity to send their children to represent the country in competitions abroad, be it the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games or even the Olympics as it stands now.

For the upcoming Asian Games the Sports Ministry has given its nod to three swimmers and a female diver, whose nominations have not been recommended by the controlling body for the sports, the National Amateur Aquatic Sports Union (NAASU).

NAASU President Henry Perera told The Sunday Times they only recommended the participation of Gayan Ranatunge the 13 year old from S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia for a diving event based on the results of the last nationals but they never recommended any other swimmers or divers.

He said he had no comment to make on those who have been picked without NAASU recommendations to represent Sri Lanka at the Asian Games.

The Sunday Times learns these chosen swimmers and the female diver are being sent to Bangkok on condition that they meet the cost of air tickets, boarding and lodging a condition all of them willingly met. Gayan Ranatunge is the only sponsored diver in the squad.

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