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Tuesday September 26th, 2023

Sri Lanka’s top sleuth drops cluster bomb over Easter probe

ECONOMYNEXT – The head of Sri Lanka’s premier criminal investigative unit at the time of the Easter Sunday attacks has publicly revealed the suspicious behaviour of intelligence services before, during and after the worst single terror attack in the country.

Senior DIG CID Ravi Seneviratne who retired in December 2019 had given evidence before three commissions of inquiry into the April 21, 2019 attacks, but his interview with TNL TV, on Monday night is the first time he went public.

Speaking to the network owned by President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s elder brother Shan, the now retired officer made it clear that there were several crucial unanswered questions on the role of intelligence operatives and agencies.

The Easter Sunday attacks killed at least 279 people and wounded another 500. The suicide bombers targeted three churches and three deluxe hotels. At least 45 foreigners were among those killed.

Seneviratne said there were attempts to distract the investigations into two other incidents prior to the Easter Sunday bombings but linked to lead bomber Zahran Hashim. These related to the role of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) and the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI).

Seneviratne was appointed head of the CID by President Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2012 and he was retained in the post by President Maithripala Sirisena. He remained in the post till his retirement in December 2019.

The following are the five key take aways from Ravi Seneviratne’s two-hour candid interview.

1) There was another individual who controlled Zahran Hashim, the lead suicide bomber in the Easter Sunday attacks. This person is highly intelligent, had the capability to organise the first ever coordinated terror attack in Sri Lanka, something even the LTTE failed to do.
Seneviratne noted that Zahran, an individual without a proper education, may not have had the wherewithal to carry out such a coordinated attack.

“There was someone above him. Some one who is very intelligent, with training and experience. With the ability to coordinate so many people to carry out such an attack.”

2) State and military intelligence units had known and even worked closely with Easter Sunday bombers/Zahran Hashim and his associates before, during and after the attacks.

3) Both military intelligence and the State Intelligence Service actively worked to divert attention to ex-LTTE cadres over the murder of two policemen at Vavunathivu. They had even planted “evidence” in a bid to prove it. CID was highly suspicious.

4) SIS inspector Bandara was the person who instigated Zahran’s group to get establish links and claim the Easter Sunday bombings as the work of the ISIS. Investigations into this matter was halted. There was no evidence to suggest that there was an external ISIS support to Zahran and company.

5) Current SIS chief Suresh Sallay had a difficult relationship with the CID. In fact, the CID had to report him to court to get required information. Channel 4 allegations against Suresh Sallay also must be investigated.

Access the full interview here:

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Sri Lanka cabinet okays appropriation bill for 2024 budget

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers had approved a draft Appropriation Act for 2024, the state information office said.

The Finance Minister’s proposal to gazette the bill and table it in parliament was approved by the cabinet.

Presenting the appropriation bill is the first stage of presenting a budget for 2024,

The appropriation bills set outs the expenditure plans for each ministry.

The budget proposals, made in November is called the second reading of the Appropriation Act. (Colombo/Sept24/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s MEPA to get 28.5 mn rupees from Singaporean AEPW, for beach clean up

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) is to receive 5.7 million rupees a year, for five years, from Singapore-based marine waste solutions provider, Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), to maintain 8 beach cleaner machines.

The donation is meant to support MEPA clean coastal areas across Sri Lanka, using BeachTech Hydro Sweepy beach cleaner machines, previously donated by the organisation.

The oil industry-founded non-governmental organisation donated the 8 beach cleaners worth about US$180,000 to MEPA in the wake of the 2021 MV X-press Pearl ship disaster.

The machines manufactured by Kässbohrer Geländefahrzeug AG, a German company, are effective at cleaning up plastic nurdles and other types of potentially harmful non-biodegradable waste, minimising human contact with hazardous materials.

As a significant amount of money is spent for the deployment of these machines for beach cleaning activities, the Alliance to End Plastic Waste has agreed to provide the funds for the upkeep of the machines for a period of five years.

With this financial donation, the Maritime Environment Protection Authority will be able to continue using these machines without interruption to clean identified beaches in the future. (Colombo/Sep26/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s SEC makes four new appointments

ECONOMYNEXT – The Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC) made four new additions from diverse backgrounds to its leadership.

These appointments are expected to increase the effectiveness of the SEC secretariat in the respective operating areas, the SEC said.

Manuri Weerasinghe, with over 20 years of experience in accounting, financial management, financial reporting and auditing, was appointed Director, Corporate Affairs.

She is a Fellow Member of CA Sri Lanka, member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and a member of the Certified Practicing Accountants of Australia.

Her academic credentials include a Master of Business Administration and a BSc (Hons) in Accountancy and Financial Management (Special).

Prior to joining the SEC, she served in several financial management positions in Bermuda and Sweden.

Madura P R Wanigasekara was appointed Chief Digital Officer. He has over 20 years delivering and managing IT solutions, and has held several senior management positions in the public and private sectors.

His academic qualifications include a Master of Science in Information Technology from the University of Colombo and a Bachelor of Information Technology from the Curtin University of Technology.

He is also a member of the Australian Computer Society (ACS).

Sharmila Panditaratne was appointed Assistant Director, Legal and Enforcement.

She is an Attorney-at-Law with over 21 years of experience as a securities market regulator.

She holds a Master of Laws degree from the University of Houston, Texas and has worked at two law firms in the USA prior to joining the SEC.

Riyaz Bary, Deputy Solicitor General at the Attorney General’s Department was appointed a Director on secondment basis. (Colombo/Sep26/2023)

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