Categories
Domestic

German Bakery blast accused was trained to assemble explosives in Colombo

The alleged mastermind of the February 13 German Bakery attack, Himayat Baig, was trained to assemble explosives in Colombo by two of the co-accused in the case when they visited the Sri Lankan capital in March 2008, the Maharashtra ATS has contended in the chargesheet submitted to the Judicial Magistrate in Pune.

A copy of the 2500-page chargesheet, which was filed by the ATS in the court of Judicial Magistrate S. Bose on Saturday, was handed over to Baig who was produced in the court on Monday.

According to certain details of the document shared by Defence Counsel A. Rahman with the press, Baig is charged with designing the German Bakery terror attack along with Faiyaz Kagzi and Sayyad Ansari, two of the six co-accused named in the case, who are absconding.

Baig, who ran a cyber cafe in Udgir, later finalised the plan to attack the eatery in the last week of January 2010 and went to Mumbai along with two other accused — Mohasin Choudhary and Bhatkal — to purchase a sack to keep the bomb and a Nokia mobile, the prosecution has alleged as quoted by Mr. Rahman.

The bomb that was planted in the Pune eatery at 17:00 hours went off killing 17 persons including some foreigners and injuring over 60.

The six other co-accused charged along with Baig are — Yasim Bhatkal, Mohsin Choudhary, Riyaz Bhatkal, Iqbal Bhatkal, Faiyaz Kagzi and Sayyad Ansari——— all stated to be absconding.

Mr. Rahman took instructions from Baig, who was brought to the court without a shroud.

ATS officer Vinod Satav told the Magistrate that names of some witnesses had been deleted from the chargesheet to protect their identity.

Baig is charged under various sections of IPC, Explosives Substances Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

The Defence Counsel said he would contest the omission of witnesses’ names in higher court. The Counsel also said that Baig had denied all charges mentioned by the ATS.

The Magistrate committed the case to the Sessions Court where a special judge will hear it.

The massive chargesheet is kept in custody of the judge and its details were not made public.

Categories
Foreign Affairs

Sri Lanka ready to assist India in combating LTTE

Sri Lanka is to consider assisting India in combating the threat posed by LTTE elements said Minister of Media Keheliya Rambukwella.

Answering a query of a journalist at the Cabinet media briefing held in Colombo a short while ago (16), he said that Sri Lanka will consider on the issue if such a request is made and the country will share all its experiences in combating terrorism.

India is the neigbhouring country of Sri Lanka who has had strong ties for centuries mentioned the Minister.

The Minister mentioned this commenting on the very recent reports on LTTE attempts to take the lives of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and TamilNadu Chief Minister M Karunanidi. These details were revealed by the intelligence units of the country.

Categories
Military

D Aide Probed for LTTE Links in India

Mumbai’s Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) is questioning a key member of Dawood Ibrahim gang for alleged links with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to supply arms for terror activities in India.

Categories
Military

Sri Lanka Navy Diamond Jubilee

Sri Lanka Navy is celebrating Diamond Jubilee (completion of 60 years) today. On December 09, 1950 the Navy Act was enacted to form Royal Ceylon Navy. In 1972, with the introduction of new constitution Royal Ceylon Navy was renamed as the Sri Lanka Navy.

Representatives from 21 countries including 06 Naval Chiefs from around the world are participating in the celebrations. Ships from Bangladesh, China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and Thailand Navies are participating in the Presidential Fleet Review and International Sail Past at the port of Colombo.

India is represented by Admiral Nirmal Verma, Chief of Naval Staff along with INS Mysore and INS Tarangini.

Categories
Foreign Affairs

Spanish-Thai forgery probe reveals new links to LTTE

Spanish and Thai police investigating a gang that supplied forged passports to al-Qaeda linked groups have found new evidence of links to Sri Lanka’s defeated Tamil Tiger rebels, Spanish authorities said today.

Spanish and Thai police are analysing material seized late on Tuesday in a joint operation in which 10 people -eight Pakistanis, a Nigerian and a Thai national – were arrested in the two countries, Spain’s interior ministry said in a statement.

The 10 are suspected of providing forged passports to organisations linked to Al-Qaeda, including the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, accused of plotting the attacks in Mumbai that killed at least 166 people in November 2008, as well as to the Tamil Tigers.

Police seized forged passports, immigration documents, faked rubber stamps, computers, mobile phones, passport photos, British driving licences and sophisticated counterfeiting equipment in the swoop named Operation Kampai.

Spanish police experts “have travelled to Thailand and are working with Thailand’s department of special investigations to analyse the numerous documents seized from the cell,” the interior ministry said Friday.

“An initial examination of photographs seized has turned up evidence of the membership of some members of the terrorist organisation the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.”

The LTTE “has perpetrated bloody attacks, many of them by suicides, such as that which killed the former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.

“Many of its members were based in Western countries, where they obtained financial assistance for the organisation through extortion and drug trafficking,” it said.

The LTTE fought a violent 37-year campaign for an independent Tamil homeland in northern and eastern Sri Lanka before being crushed by government forces last year.

Thai police said yesterday that the three arrested in Thailand – two Pakistani men and a Thai woman – were part of criminal networks tied to “many terrorist attacks”.

These included the 2004 Madrid bombings, when blasts on packed commuter trains in a city suburb killed 191 people and wounded 1,841 others. However, Spanish authorities have not confirmed any such link to those arrested.

Spanish police detained seven suspects – six Pakistanis and a Nigerian – in the northeastern city of Barcelona during the operation.

Categories
Domestic

Half of Colombo Population in Shanties

Approximately 75,000 families, which is half the population within the Colombo city limits are without houses and are living in shanty houses. They are living in unauthorized buildings and mostly occupy property belonging to the government, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa stated.

Speaking at an occasion held at the BMICH celebrating the World Town Planning Day today (08 November) he said that the government treasury cant afford to relocate all 75, 000 families, as the cost for building a single unit for a family costs some Rs. 2.5 million.

That is why we need Town Planning. In order to find out how to get the money needed to relocate in large numbers, fund the projects and make them a reality, the secretary said at the event which was organized by the Institute of Town Planners Sri Lanka.

We know that a lot of these unauthorized structures are in very valuable land in Colombo, so we need to make use of those properties, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said.

“Though the war is over and there is peace and stability in the country that alone won’t bring investors to the country. We need to encourage them and show them that their investment will be profitable” he added.

Categories
Foreign Affairs

Desi Journalist Abused, Thrown Out of pro-Eelam Meeting in NJ

A veteran Indian-American journalist was forcibly thrown out of a pro-Eelam meeting organized by Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA and Ilankai Tamil Sangam when he went to cover the event at Rasoi restaurant in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey on Saturday noon.

Dr Prakash M Swamy, a senior journalist of New York and a United Nations accredited correspondent, was manhandled and pushed out of the venue after being invited to cover the event by the organizers. The organizers also abused him as “an agent of Government of India and Sri Lanka” while forcibly pushed him out of the door in the cold when he pleaded that he had come all the way from New York traveling over two hours to cover the event at their invitation.

According to Dr Swamy, Palani Sundaram, president of Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America (Fetna) was heard shouting and giving directions to the volunteers to throw him out saying that the writer could bring disrepute to the organizations with his “negative reporting.”

Dr. Swamy is a Tamil-speaking English journalist who specializes in South Asian affairs and has written several articles and scoops on the formation of Trans-national Government of Tamil Eeelam (TGTE) headquartered in New York and led by attorney Visuvanathan Ruthrakumaran in the Indian media especially for popular Tamil magazines such as Junior Vikatan.

Categories
Foreign Affairs

Sri Lanka Gains from Indo-Chinese Supremacy Battle

As India and China jostle for influence in the Indian Ocean region, the island nation of Sri Lanka seems to be getting unintended economic benefits.
China has pledged more financial assistance as Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited Shanghai Expo exhibition earlier this month.

China is already the biggest lender for the Indian Ocean island. Sri Lanka’s Deputy Minister for Economic Development Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene says that China has, so far, pledged more than $3bn (£1.9bn) for infrastructure development, maintenance and other projects.

“China has been investing in Sri Lanka when many other countries were reluctant to invest during the war,” he tells BBC Sinhala service.

China has finished the first phase of the major sea port of Hambantota on the southern Sri Lankan coast – Mr Rajapaksa’s hometown – and is funding a new airport in the south. Chinese firms are also rebuilding roads in the north.

Many other projects are already in the pipeline, including handling a Special Economic Zone, a 900 megawatt coal-fired power plant and the Colombo-Katunayake expressway, the road connecting the capital with the island’s only international airport.

China is also funding port projects in Chitagong in Bangladesh and in Pakistan and Burma.

Categories
Military

White flag civilians not shot: Ex- M’tivu GA

Jaffna Government Agent, Imelda Sukumar who was the Mullaitivu GA during the war, yesterday vehemently denied claims that those who crossed over from LTTE controlled areas to Government controlled areas carrying white flags were fired at by the army during the height of the war.

Mrs. Sukumar said this while responding to a question posed to her by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) Chairman, C.R de Silva, on the issue, during a LLRC session held yesterday.

Ms. Sukumar maintained that reports of alleged atrocities by the Sri Lankan Army were false. No one was shot by the army when they crossed over carrying white flags. If it had happened I would have known about it. Not a single case of this nature was reported to me,” Sukumar said, adding that two of her drivers escaped the LTTE controlled zone carrying white flags and that they informed her of their safe return.

She said that civilians had been used by the LTTE as human shields to serve their own ends. “These civilians wanted to escape but were unable to do so. The LTTE could not have sustained themselves without these civilians. They were necessary for their survival. Although civilians wanted to get away from their grip they were caught in the middle with no way out,” she said.

Mrs. Sukumar said that she had been in Mullaitivu till January 22 during which time there had been around 350,000 civilians in the Pudukudiyiruppu area in Mullaitivu. She said that majority of them fled the area and that their lives were saved due to the support they got from the Army. She said that the then Vavuniya Commander, General Jagath Jayasuriya ensured that food and medicine was provided for the civilians. “80% of the food and other goods sent to the civilians were transported to them but I’m not sure about the other 20%. It is likely that those goods went to the LTTE,” she said.

Categories
Politics

SM Krishna Cancels Meet with Sri Lankas Main Tamil Party

External affairs minister SM Krishna today concluded his four-day visit to Sri Lanka without meeting the country’s main Tamil political party, TNA, once considered as a proxy of the LTTE.

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) said Krishna was to hold talks with them today morning, but the meeting was put off till noon giving him time to return to Colombo from the southern town of Hambantota where he opened a consulate.

“Later we were told that the minister is flying straight from Hambantota to the (international) airport and there is no possibility to have the scheduled meeting,” TNA legislator Suresh Premachandra said.

Tamil parties were disappointed over the failure to meet Krishna who had been pushing Sri Lanka to press ahead with devolution of power after the end of hostilities last year.

The TNA which was once seen as a proxy of Tamil Tigers has distanced itself from the guerrillas after their defeat in a no-holds-barred military campaign that ended in May last year with the killing of the top Tiger leadership.

Krishna’s visit to the island coincided with what the Tigers used to mark as their heroes’ week. It was on November 27 that the late Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran used to deliver his annual policy statement.