Wednesday, 19  February 2003  
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News in brief


Ratwatte allowed to attend Parliament

The Trial-at-Bar hearing the Udatalawinna mass murder case yesterday allowed former Deputy Defence Minister Anuruddha Ratwatte, the first accused to attend Parliament to cast his vote yesterday.

The Trial-at-Bar comprises High Court Judges Eric Basnayake (President), Deepali Wijesundara and Sunil Rajapakse.

The decision of the Court was sequel to an application made by R. I. Obeysekera PC on behalf of Ratwatte who is also a Member of Parliament. The Counsel urged Court to grant permission for Ratwatte to attend parliament under Ministerial Security Division guard.

However, Court allowed Ratwatte to attend Parliament and ordered the Prison authorities to handle transport procedures.

The trial resumes today.


Short circuit, cause for Govt. Analyst's Dept. fire

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) said the fire at the Government Analyst's Department was caused by a short circuit in the main power lines.

The fire which broke out around 9 p.m. on Thursday was brought under control by the Colombo Fire Brigade with the assistance of the Colombo Port Fire unit.

The CID is investigating assisted by the Government Analyst's Department.


Tamil teachers threaten to strike

The Ceylon Tamil Teachers Union (CTTU) has threatened to launch a trade union action from March 3 if the Education Minister fails to find solutions to their several long standing demands which has already been put forward to him by them in July last year, CTTU sources said yesterday.

The CTTU has requested the Education Minister for an early date for a meeting to present their grievances once again, he said.

They have pointed out that out of the 16 demands they have submitted last July, only one concerning payment of salary arrears has been granted so far.

According to the sources, the Secretary of the Union has already informed its branches in the North-East province to be prepared for trade union action if the Minister does not respond positively to their request. The 15 demands concern the welfare of Tamil medium teachers serving in the North East and up country.

They also claim that there was discrimination against Tamil and Muslims in granting promotions to the Principals' Service.


Nawam perahera with added splendour

The Nawam Perahera or the annual cultural pageant of the Puttalam district will be conducted with added splendour this year. It will be held on the 22nd of this month organised by the Sri Sumanarama temple, Etiyawala in Wennappuwa electorate.

The Chief Guest Diyawadana Nilame of Sri Dalada Maligawa, Kandy Neranjan Wijeyaratne will lay the "Dhatu Karanduwa" on the tusker carrying the casket bearing the relics.The Nawam Maha Perahera will commence parading the streets at 8 p.m. on February 22 from the Buddhist Centre Dankotuwa.

A large number of elephants including tuskers draped in the finery parading the streets will add royal tradition to the perahera.

Participation of large groups of low and up country dancers torch bearers, acrobats, Kohomba Kankariya and a number of traditional cultural items will be some of the fascinating features. The perahera parading the streets of Dankotuwa town will wind up reaching the Etiyawala temple.

The perahera Organising Committee is headed by Godigamuwa Sri Pangharatna thera, Chief Incumbent of Sumanarama Vihara, Etiyawala.


Four held in rape, murder case

Four persons were taken into custody by Gampola Division Unsolved Crime Detective Bureau in collaboration with Kandy Special Crime Unit in connection with the murder of a girl aged 23 years, one and a half years ago on 12th Oct. 2001 at Mallanda in Nawalapitiya.

It was revealed that the girl had been raped by a number of persons and thereafter brutally murdered. The body was found in a thicket by the side of the Mahaweli Ganga on the following day in the evening.

According to the OIC, M. M. Abeyratna of the Unsolved Crime Detective Unit of the Gampola Police the deceased was from Galaboda Quarters, Imbulpitiya Estate, Nawalapitiya had attended a typewriting class in the town conducted by the Udayam foundation. On her way home in the evening the first suspect who had been a friend of the deceased had taken her to an abandoned house in Mallanda, a place about 500 metres from the Nawalapitiya police station and raped her. Thereafter the second suspect too had committed a sexual abuse on the girl. Finally the rest of the suspects who had sensed the incident and stormed the place and forcibly raped the girl. In the course of the act they had handled the girl in a very brutal way.

At last fearing that the girl would complain the matter to the police they all got together and murdered her and left the body in a coffee garden.

When the Nawalapitiya Police failed to bring the culprits to book about thousand estate workers held a protest march against the police demanding for justice.

Then under the instructions of DIG Kandy Nimal Mediwaka, a police team investigated the matter for the past one and a half years and arrested the suspects.

The suspects are to be produced before the Gampola Magistrate.


Mahaweli Authority re-named

The Mahawali Authority will henceforth be known as the River Valley Basin Authority. This move was made to assist easy management.

The conversion to River Basin Authority will make it easier for the management to restructure and develop river basins.

"This will be the foundation for a proper management and will further give us the opportunity to maintain the river basins", said Minister of Irrigation and Water Management Gamini Jayawickrama Perera delivering the keynote address at the Randenigala Training Centre.

The Draft Bill incorporating the change will be presented to the cabinet in June.

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