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14th March 1999
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Symbolic protest
With their mouths gagged in symbolic protest, 
UNP leaders Ranil Wickremesinghe, Anura Bandaranaike 
and Karu Jayasuriya participated in the party's 
'Save democracy' Satyagraha in Nittambuwa on 
Friday after police removed loudspeakers from the site. 
Pic by Lakshman Gunatileke
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Shooters in soup

Allegations are being levelled against some of our sharp shooters that they engaged in illegal arms trade, indecent conduct and other questionable activities.

During visits abroad to represent Sri Lanka at international competitions, the national team, comprising senior security forces officials, have posed with nude and semi-nude prostitutes in their hotel rooms, according to an intelligence report.

The Sunday Times is in possession of photographs, substantiating these allegations. 

In several photographs, a security forces officer is seen with two Filipino prostitutes. The officer concerned holds a highly sensitive position in the security force concerned, raising questions on whether such conduct could compromise national security. 

The photographs also show a national coach with prostitutes. See Special Assignment on page 8.

Death again for murder and drugs

One amnesty on Feb. 4, remission reduced

Government will reintroduce the death sentence for murder and drug trafficking in view of the alarming increase in crime.

The Presidential Secretariat, which announced President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga's decision yesterday, said she has also reviewed the policy relating to the exercise of the President's constitutional prerogative of granting remissions of sentences.

The death sentence was last carried out when a person known as Embilipitiye Chandadasa alias 'Honda Papuwa" was hanged on June 22, 1976.

Justice Ministry Secretary M. S. Jayasinghe said the President would announce the date on which the new policy would come into force.

Meanwhile Prison officials said that the hangman's post has now fallen vacant and they would have to fill the vacancy if the death penalty is due to be reimposed.

A statement by the Presidential Secretariat said President Chandrika Kumaratunga had also reviewed the policy relating to the exercise of the President's constitutional prerogative of granting remissions of sentences. 

The new changes announced by the Secretariat yesterday are:

* The death sentence imposed by Court in cases of murder and drug trafficking will be carried out and will not be commuted to life imprisonment if in accordance with the relevant constitutional and statutory procedure the judge who heard the case, the Attorney General and the Minister of Justice unanimously recommend the execution of such sentence.

* Death sentences commuted to life imprisonment in the absence of such a unanimous recommendation will not be further reduced to a specific period of time until the prisoner has served a period of at least 20 years in prison nor will he be eligible for any remissions under general amnesties till then. This is a change from the present practice of considering such a reduction, after a prisoner has served a period of four years. 

* General amnesties will be granted only to mark the Independence Day. This is a reduction from the six occasions annually when amnesties are granted at present. 

* Only one week's remission for every year or part of a year already served will be granted on each occasion. This is a reduction from the present three weeks' remission. In any event this remission will not be granted to persons convicted of serious crimes such as rape, child abuse, robbery, unauthorised possession of firearms, acts of terrorism and drug trafficking. 

Buddhist prelates welcomed the move. "The wave of mass killings has been due to the failure to impose tough laws. This was one way to contain the rising crime," Ven. Rambukwelle Sri Vipassi Thera said last night. 

Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera said: "To maintain law, peace and justice in a country, it is the duty of the government to impose necessary laws."

A High Court Judge also said the move was a good one. Nimal Dissanayake, High Court Judge, Colombo, said "I personally believe it is a good move because those facing a murder trial know they can get away without the death penalty, since it is generally commuted. People should know that there is a severe

sentence attached to the justice system in our country. Also, western countries have obviously realised the beneficial effects of it as they too have re-introduced it. 

Mr Ashraff Hussain, a spokesman at the Sri Lanka Islamic Centre said "We should welcome this move. Innocent people live in fear since criminals get away. Middle east countries are a good example. There is deterrent punishment and there is less crime."

However, there were also detractors to the move.

Bishop Malcolm Ranjith said, "We appreciate the government's interest to restore law and order, but we are not in favour of imposing the death penalty". He also brought out the fact that Pope John Paul II has constantly appealed against the death penalty during the past years. "He has been upholding the sacredness of life and on that principle we stand against this move".

Former President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, Desmond Fernando PC said: 'I think the death penlaty is a retrograde step, it will not solve any problems. A commission appointed in 1957 by S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike concluded that imposing a death penalty is not a deterrent to crime. The South African Constitutional courts concluded that the only deterrent to crime is the detection of criminals, in which aspect Sri Lanka has failed, both in police and judicial circles. We are also under an international obligation to get rid of the death penalty under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights'.

General Secretary of the All Ceylon Hindu Congress Mr. K. Neelakandan said, 'No man has the right to take a person's life whether he be the King or the President of the country. We are certainly not in favour of the death penalty'. He said that life imprisonment was good enough and since all religions preach love we have no right to impose the death sentence.

The Presidential Secretariat said the President has been "concerned for a considerable time about the alarming increase in the incidence of crime which trend apparently set in during the last two decades. The erosion of traditional values under the impact of a laissez faire economic policy, devoid of any humane element, followed by the previous Government, was accompanied by a liberal attitude towards criminal elements. 

"Persons in high positions consorted with notorious figures of the underworld. Criminals' convicted of rape and criminal assault were given Presidential pardons, some of them even being elevated to positions of Justice of the Peace. 

A very liberal policy of granting remissions to prisoners was introduced. 

The statement said that the President is of the view "that one of the immediate measures to be taken to arrest the present trend in crime is to follow a more stringent policy in the grant of remission of sentences imposed by courts. 

The main consideration should be that society should be protected from criminal elements and that persons convicted of crimes should undergo the full period of sanctions imposed by courts of Law."

Violence on the increase

More than 200 complaints of election-related violence have been made to the two main independent polls monitoring groups.

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence says it has recorded 230 incidents with most number of complaints against the PA. 

A CMEV official said 31 complaints had been made by the PA against the UNP, while the UNP had made 30 complaints against the PA. He said the highest number of incidents was reported from the Central Province followed by the Western Province.- 

Meanwhile PAFFREL says it has recorded 38 election related incidents.

'There is an increase in violence and we have to hold discussions with party leaders," Executive Director Kingsley Rodrigo said.

Police chief says 'no' again

By Frederica Jansz
Police chief Lucky Kodituwakku has turned down another request for the department to pay a personal fine imposed in the Anura Bandaranaike fundamental rights case.

This time the request has come from former CID chief T.V. Sumanasekera

Recently, Mr. Kodituwakku rejected a request from his predecessor W.B. Rajaguru to pay a personal fine of Rs. 50,000 imposed in the same case. 

Police headquarters sources said fines for which officers had been held personally liable should be met by the police officer concerned. They said if a precedent was set, the police department would have to pay for all officers who were ordered to pay fines.

These sources also said if public money was utilised to paying personal fines, it would amount to the public being called upon to pay.

DIG Sumanasekera is the Additional Director General of the Directorate for Internal Intelligence and is responsible for several matters including electronic eavesdropping and surveillance. 

Last month the Supreme Court directed Mr. Rajaguru, Mr. Sumanasekera and CID Deputy Director Bandula Wickremasinghe to personally pay Mr. Bandaranaike Rs. 40,000 as compensation and Rs. 10,000 as costs for having violated his fundamental rights.

Mr. Bandaranaike's residence was searched by the CID on February 11, 1997 without a search warrant, apparently looking for Susantha Punchinilame, who was wanted in connection with the killing of Nalanda Ellawela, the Ratnapura District parliamentarian.

Car bonanza for more officials

Pradeshiya sabha chairmen and deputy chairmen, public relations officers, private secretaries and coordinating secretaries of ministers and deputy ministers and presidential and ministerial advisors are among those in for a New Year bonanza imported cars at concessionary duty rates.

Senior public servants and Army, Navy, Air Force and police officers will also be entitled for the benefit. 

Keeping to a pledge made during last year's budget, the government will allow them to import vehicles up to 1500cc and diesel vehicles up to 2000cc.

The Treasury has granted an import duty concession of 75% on petrol vehicles and 60% on diesel vehicles for public servants falling into certain specified grades.

The scheme has however been expanded this time around to grant a much larger range of public servants, and thousands are set to benefit. Among them are several sectors who under the UNP regime were allowed to import the vehicles at a concessionary rate had the benefit withdrawn from them when the PA government came into power.

With the new scheme however, they have regained the right to apply for a concessionary import duty permit.

Duty concessions to pradeshiya sabha chairmen and deputy chairmen, chief ministers' private secretaries, chairmen, deputy chairmen and working directors of state corporations were withdrawn when the PA came into office but they have now been included in the list for the concessionary benefits.

Private secretaries of chief ministers are also among officials who will be able to make use of the permits. 

A circular states that 'a payment of 25 per cent and 40 per cent of the CIF value of a petrol vehicle and of a diesel vehicle respectively and the National Security Levy shall be payable at the point of import'.

The scheme specifies that vehicles cannot be more than three years old from the date of manufacture when imported.

Applicants for the scheme are entitled to import only one vehicle irrespective of the number of posts they hold, after approval from the Secretary to the Treasury is obtained.

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