The first week of February has been far from dull. Locally, the days leading up to Independence Day celebrations saw a number of arrests, and internationally, the Syrian refugee crisis worsens, while the WHO has declared the Zika outbreak a Global Health Emergency.
Read on to find out more.
Yoshitha Behind Bars
Navy Lieutenant Yoshitha Rajapaksa, second son of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, was arrested on Saturday (30) by the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID), along with four others. They were arrested for alleged involvement in financial irregularities at the CSN channel during, during the reign of the previous Government.
Yoshitha Rajapaksa ‒ the ‘unofficial Chairman’ of CSN ‒ the channel’s Executive Director, Nishantha Ranathunga, former President Rajapaksa’s spokesman cum current CSN Chairman, Rohan Weliwita, two other Directors of CSN, Ashan Ravinath Fernando and Sachitha Kaushan Dissanayake were taken into custody by the FCID. The suspects were remanded until February 11.
Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa on Sunday visited his son in remand custody after obtaining a special writ permission from the Minister of Prison Reforms and the Prime Minister.
BBS Monks Arrested
Four monks were arrested by police on Sunday (31), for alleged involvement in the havoc caused at the Homagama Magistrate Court premises after Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) General Secretary Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera was remanded last week. .
Meanwhile, the Fort Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday (3) issued an injunction prohibiting a protest in the form of a public procession from proceeding beyond the Fort Ceramic Junction. The procession had been planned by the BBS, Ravana Balaya and Sinhale Jathika Bala Muluwa, in protest against the incarceration of Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera.
Former First Lady Grilled
Shiranthi Rajapaksa was summoned before the PRECIFAC on Monday (1), in regard to an alleged monetary irregularity, regarding a house which was transferred to her media consultant Milinda Ratnayake. The house was valued at around Rs 5.5 million, but had been transferred to Ratnayaka for Rs 0.5 million.
Independence Day Celebrations
Speaking at the 68th Independence Day celebrations, President Maithripala Sirisena said he will safeguard the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity when dealing with the UNHRC resolution which has demanded accountability and reconciliation after the ethnic civil war.
A noted event of Thursday’s celebrations was the singing of the Tamil version of the National Anthem.
Members of the Joint Opposition, including General Secretary of the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya, Udaya Gammanpila, opted to protest Thursday’s Independence Day celebrations. The protest was organised against the ‘unlawful’ arrest of the former president’s son Yoshitha Rajapaksa.
The members of the Joint Opposition were not present at the celebrations.
In line with Independence Day celebrations, twenty prison inmates who had committed minor criminal activities were given a Presidential Pardon at the Galle Prison.
DP Signs MoU With UNP
United National Party Leader Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Democratic Party (DP) Leader Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Wednesday.
According to several media reports, Fonseka is expected to fill in the seat that fell vacant on the death of Minister M. K. D. S. Gunawardena.
Embilipitiya Incident: The Latest
Former Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) D.W.C. Dharmaratne of the Embilipitiya Police Station was arrested Tuesday (2) by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in connection with the death of a man in Embilipitiya. He was remanded until February 17 after he was produced before the courts.
The order for the arrests of the ASP came last week,, while the other suspects were ordered to be produced at an identification parade.
It has been over three weeks since Sumith Prasanna was allegedly pushed to his death from an upper floor balcony,, during a raid on that house, by the Embilipitiya Police.
Kidneys And The SLMA
The Sri Lanka Medical Association has requested the Ministry of Health to strengthen the current guidelines and procedures for organ transplant programmes, including the implementation of the National Organ Donor Programme for Deceased Donor Organ Transplants.
In a letter addressed to the Ministry, the SLMA expressed its concerns about “the references made against some members of the medical profession in litigation initiated in India pertaining to certain kidney transplants on Indian nationals carried out in Sri Lanka.”
Sicille Kotelawala arrested
Former Ceylinco Chairman Lalith Kotelawala’s wife, Sicille Kotelawala, who had been evading courts, was arrested by immigration officials at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in Katunayake upon her return to Sri Lanka on Thursday (4).
Lalith Kotelawala was remanded for the misappropriation of 26 billion rupees of investments from the failed Golden Key Credit Card Company.
Sicille Kotelawala had fled to many countries and Interpol had issued warrants and red notices for her arrest.
Nine people, including Lalith Kotelawala and Sicille Kotelawala, were named as respondents in the case relating to the defrauding of deposits made by the public in the Ceylinco Group.
Syria: Over 70,000 Refugees Headed for Turkey
Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees were moving to Turkey’s border to flee heavy fighting near the city of Aleppo since Thursday (4) evening.
Foreign Media reports quoting Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said up to 70,000 people may be heading to the border, while a monitoring group put the number at about 40,000.
Intense Russian air strikes have helped Syrian government troops advance towards the country’s largest city.
Meanwhile, Russia has accused Turkey of illegal military activity at the border.
India: Tanzanian Student Assault Case
Bangalore Police on Thursday said that they had arrested five people in connection with an attack on a Tanzanian student.
A mob assaulted and partially stripped the 21-year-old woman after a Sudanese student’s car ran over and killed a local woman on Sunday night.
The woman and her three friends – all Tanzanians – were attacked as they were passing by the accident site, when they had stopped to ask what had happened.
According to Police, a mob gathered in Hessarghatta area after an allegedly drunk Sudanese student had run his car over a woman sleeping on the roadside. The mob beat up the man and set fire to his car, but he managed to escape.
Spain: Zika Pregnancy Case
Spain on Thursday confirmed that a pregnant woman has been diagnosed with the Zika virus ‒ the first such case in Europe.
According to a press communique released by the health ministry, the woman had recently returned from Colombia, where it is believed she was infected.
Zika, which is spreading through the Americas, has been linked to babies being born with underdeveloped brains.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the microcephaly condition, linked to the mosquito-borne virus, a global public health emergency.
The WHO has also advised countries not to accept blood donations from people who had travelled to Zika-affected regions.
The link between Zika infection and microcephaly has not been confirmed, and the risks at different stages of pregnancy are unknown.