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Full PCoI report must be presented in Parliament

By W. K. Prasad Manju Leader of the House, Minister of Public Enterprise and Kandy Development, Lakshman Kiriella says that, the mechanism required to take Arjuna Mahendran into custody is underway with assistance from Interpol, and said “As at present, two other suspects have been remanded now for so many days.” Excerpts of the interview: It is being said that, there are 118 MPs who have accepted money, from Arjun Aloysius who is now in remand accused of transactions in connection with Treasury Bonds of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. As the Leader of the House, what have you got to say about this list? A: There is no such list of 118. All of that is utter nonsense. That is why I said that complete evidence from the Presidential Commission on the Treasury Bonds fraud should be submitted to Parliament. If the complete report of evidence is presented in Parliament it will be proved that there is no list of 118. Then there is the list of 166 that is also being spoken about? A: If there is no list of 118, what is this list of 166? There are no such lists at all, that talk is sheer nonsense. However, former Minister of Sports Dayasiri Jayasekera says with responsibility that there are 118 individuals in Parliament who obtained money from Aloysius? A: It was revealed that Aloysius had given money to Parliamentarian Dayasiri Jayasekera. It was Dayasiri Jayasekera who said that Aloysius not only gave him money but did so to 118 others as well. So, the story was first spread by Parliamentarian Dayasiri Jayasekera. The story of 118 began from there. The Speaker also told the Parliament that there was no list of 118. So, are you saying that a responsible Member of Parliament has made up a story? A: There is no list of 118? No… Then, is Parliamentarian Dayasiri Jayasekera talking about the 118 as he has some information on it, if not, instructions from someone? A: That, you have to ask MP Dayasiri Jayasekera himself, it was he who initially said that there was a list of 118. It was from there that this story began. Dayasiri Jayasekera in order to save himself said that not only he but there are 118 others. Have you requested the President’s Secretary to present the complete report? A: As the Leader of House in Parliament, what I am saying is that this complete report should be presented to Parliament. Has the President’s Secretary obtained advice from the Attorney General regarding submitting the complete report? A: I do not know the exact details. However, the general public of this country needs to find out the truth. Therefore, we request that the complete report be presented to Parliament. Then everybody will be able to find out what is the exact truth. What was the response of the President’s Secretary to Parliament, regarding the request for the complete report? A: The President’s Secretary must have aired his views to the Speaker. What we are saying is that the complete report should be presented to Parliament. Then, why is it being delayed? Does someone have a requirement to cover this up? A: We, of course have no such requirement, whatsoever, to have this suppressed. We are continuously saying that the complete report should be presented in Parliament, soon. However, recently President Maithripala Sirisena had said that, there is influence from the top asking the Treasury Bonds incident to be suppressed. Against whom is the President making such a serious allegation? A: About that, you will have to ask the President. Three MPs have already acknowledged that they received money from Arjun Aloysius. As a result, even if it is not 118, there is a justified doubt within society that at least another few have accepted money in the same manner? A: The best reply for that is to present to Parliament the complete report of the Presidential Commission on the Treasury Bonds fraud. Then the truths and lies will all come out. However, UNP members of the Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) have added footnotes to the Treasury Bonds Report. There is an allegation that those who did add such footnotes have no ethical right to remain in the COPE? A: It is wrong to blame them for having added footnotes to the COPE Report. It is mentioned in the Presidential Commission Report too that adding those footnotes was correct. The Report of the Presidential Commission has commended persons for having added footnotes. Why has the Presidential Commission Report commended those who added footnotes to the COPE Report? A: That was for having provided explanations by way of footnotes. However, there are allegations that, the group which added footnotes to the COPE Report had continually found fault with the Auditor General? A: I, of course have not heard of anything like that. There were allegations that this group which added footnotes, behaved in a manner intended to save the former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran as well as the Prime Minister? A: That allegation cannot be accepted. If the footnotes had been added in order to save someone, the Presidential Commission Report would not have commended them for the footnotes, would they? That itself shows that the footnotes were not to save anybody. The other thing is that the Prime Minister has not been accused of anything in connection with this issue. Federation of University Teachers’ Association, has alleged that the University Grants Commission has invested the University Provident Fund monies amounting to millions of Rupees in Treasury Bonds. You too, were a former Minister of Higher Education. A: As no such incident took place during the time I held the portfolio, those allegations are not relevant to me. I reject that allegation. But, there are allegations that these investments have resulted in losses to the University Provident Fund? A: If something like that has happened it should be looked into and investigated. Former Minister of Higher Education Kabir Hashim has replied to this allegation. In the reply it was stated that when this investment was made it was Dr. Sarath Amunugama who was the Minister of Higher Education. What is the legal position when investing in this manner, money from the University Provident Fund? A: Minister Kabir Hashim had mentioned the legal position and the relevant Act and the relevant Clause No. 91 pertaining to investing the UGC Employees Provident Fund monies. The Federation of University Teachers’ Association is questioning if some offence has been committed, who should be held responsible for it? A: If something like that has happened it should be investigated. As of now, the attention of the UGC is focused on this issue. A system to invest money in this manner commenced in the year 2013. That was during the administration of the previous government. There is no harm in carrying out an investigation, while focusing attention on all of these facts. Why isn’t this Government showing an interest in getting down Arjuna Mahendran, the former Governor of the Central Bank, against whom an international red notice has been issued in connection with the Treasury Bonds transaction of the Central Bank? While former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has intervened in getting down Udayanga Weeratunga, the former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia, who has allegations made against him? A: Udayanga Weeratunga is a relative of the former President. Therefore, it is good that he intervened to get down Weeratunga, then the cases on the allegations against him can be heard and it will be possible to find out the truth and the lies. But the question is why he remained in hiding all this time? Arjuna Mahendran is a very close friend of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, isn’t he? The Prime Minister said in Parliament that when Mahendran went to attend a wedding in Singapore, he had informed him about it. A: I do not know whether he is a friend or not. The Prime Minister is not someone who considers relationships or friendships, much. Then the Government will not intervene in getting down Arjuna Mahendran who is said to be avoiding Court and is living in Singapore? A: The Government is unable to intervene in that. There are institutions who act on those things. The Police and the Judiciary are engaged in making arrangements to bring Arjuna Mahendran back to this country. The Government cannot influence those independent institutions in any way. That is the nature of a Government of Good Governance. I can say with responsibility that the Government will not obstruct the line of those duties. But, is legal action being taken against those who are responsible for the loss that has been incurred as a result of the Treasury Bonds transactions of the Central Bank? A: Yes. The mechanism required to take into custody Arjuna Mahendran is underway with the assistance of Interpol. As at present, two other suspects have been remanded now, for so many days. The law is being implemented regarding other persons who are responsible too. Then how will you recover the loss incurred by the country as a result of the Treasury Bonds transactions? A: The Report of the Presidential Commission has stated that there was a loss of Rupees 11 billion to the State as a result of the Treasury Bonds transactions. There is no problem about recovering that money. As at present, the relevant institutions have taken legal measures to block all accounts of Aloysius and others. As the accounts belonging to Aloysius were seized, there is no problem in recovering that loss. Is there some force in operation against construction of the Central Expressway between Colombo and Kandy? A: Yes, there are some forces that are in operation. It is from within the Government itself that trouble is being created, regarding the Central Expressway and these forces are active. These same forces raised their hands when former President Mahinda Rajapaksa built the expressway up to Beliatta. If an expressway was being built in this country, the first one should have been constructed from Colombo to Kandy. The first expressway was to have been built connecting the Colombo to Kandy. However, during the previous Government the Southern Expressway and the Katunayake Expressway were constructed. But, the present Government has not been able to build and complete any expressway, yet. A: The foundation stone for the Southern Expressway was laid by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe by the then Government of 2001. Subsequent to our Government being dissolved in 2004, the Southern Expressway was constructed over a period of about ten years. When the Government of Good Governance came into power in 2015, then we began building the Central Expressway. Now work is being done on it in three stages. Once the second section from Meerigama to Kurunegala is constructed, by the end of next year, it will be possible to travel from Colombo to Kandy in two hours. Once the Central Expressway is completed in 2020, it will be possible to travel from Colombo to Kandy in one hour. However, there are allegations that, there were massive irregularities in the tender awarding process for the Central Expressway? A: I strongly condemn those false allegations. If so, those allegations could have been presented during the debate in Parliament. Those who requested the debate were not in Parliament at 1, in the afternoon. They had all avoided the debate and gone off. Was there no problem when calling for tenders…? A: The first section was given to a Chinese company, the second to a local company and the third section to a Japanese company; all three stages were handed over by calling for tenders via a proper procedure. There is no point in making false allegations. It has to be pointed out where the mistake occurred. It was reported that, President Maithripala Sirisena had stated that he had got information during his tour of Japan, that a Japanese company which accepted a Tender for the construction of the Central Expressway was black-listed. A: If such a thing did happen, it should be presented with proper information. But those who make these allegations do not do so, with facts. The section from Potuhera to Galagedera has been given, after proper tender procedure, to Japanese Company -Taisei. If this Tender had been awarded in an improper manner, the Government can cancel that tender. But it has not been cancelled. It has not been cancelled as the tender had been awarded in the correct and proper manner. We obtained the best tender on behalf of the country. Isn’t a group within the Party still displeased with the re-organization process of the UNP? A: There is no problem at all regarding the re-organization of the Party. Everyone has accepted the restructuring measures the Prime Minister suggested. At the same time, the Prime Minister has set up a second-tier leadership by now. Will it be the Prime Minister or some other leader who will handle the Provincial Council Elections scheduled to be held in December? A: It will be the Prime Minister who will handle the Provincial Council Elections. Who will be the Presidential Candidate in 2020? A: According to the present situation, the UNP candidate for presidency will be Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Will the Presidential candidate of the Party be selected by the Parliamentary Group or according to some other method? A: The candidate can be selected subsequent to a discussion with the Working Committee of the Party and the Executive Council of the Party. Will you be presenting a common candidate for the 2020 Presidential Election too? A: At present there is no discussion on that. What is the guarantee that, if Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe comes forward for the next Presidential Election, that he will win? A: Ranil Wickremesinghe can win the upcoming Presidential Election. The JO has by now broken up into three or four sectors. That situation is clearly apparent from their statements and the criticisms they make regarding each other. What has happened is that they have too many royal princes to contest. Therefore, the problems have increased too. Is the President in conflict with the Prime Minister or the Government? Such a situation is apparent from certain statements being made by the President. A: You can see, from that, the Democracy that exists now. A good country requires a critical dialogue. Those dialogues cannot be identified as clashes.

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Belgium pin hopes on mercurial talent of Hazard

Eden Hazard leads his team into Friday’s World Cup quarter-final match against Brazil on a stage built to showcase his talent but whether Belgium get the full benefit of his mercurial ability is to be seen. Hazard is undoubtedly one of the stars of the tournament in Russia and at 27-years-old, wearing the captains armband, at the peak of his powers. But there is always a nagging doubt that when the going gets tough, the attacking midfielder might once again prove anonymous. It happened at the last World Cup in Brazil and two years ago at the European Championship when Belgium’s ‘golden generation’ stood on the brink of delivering on their potential but then imploded. In the 2014 quarter-final against Argentina he drifted out of the game and was replaced after 75 ineffective minutes as Lionel Messi won their head-to-head in a 1-0 Argentina victory. Two years later, the stage was set for him to lead Belgium past outsiders Wales in the Euro quarter-finals but, in the face of determined defending, he faded when it mattered most and drifted out of the game with a shock 3-1 loss. Hazard is admired for his attacking flair, ability to run at defences and finishing but it is his maverick genius that sets him apart. “Ice baths, massages, he doesnt really do all that stuff,” team mate Marouane Fellaini in a recent TV documentary over Hazard. Michy Batshuayi told of his amazement when Hazard went to the Chelsea gym for the first time — four years after he first signed for the club. “I told him recently that he must thank God for the talent he has been given. He answered, ‘Maybe I should thank him a little,” recalled former club mate Demba Ba. It all comes easy to Hazard, rarely bothered by the pressure and expectation. That supposed indifference was often a cause of irritation for managers like Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte. But Belgium see what he is capable of and have placed their faith firmly in him. “Hes a not a natural leader like Kompany but rather a leader who shows through example on the field,” fullback Thomas Meunier said last month. “Hes got extraordinary qualities, does things other players cannot. And you dont just run him over. Hes very strong on his feet so its difficult to take the ball off him. I think hes the complete player.” Ominously for Brazil, his team mates believe Hazard is in the form of his life and ready to deliver. “Ive known him for years and the way he has trained and played over the last weeks has been exceptional, said goalkeeper Thibault Courtois, who is also at Chelsea, this week. “I think he can reach another level.”

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Female motorist arrested by armed cops in video that went viral 'had helped kidnap a Hollywood actress and actor, then pistol-whipped and stripped him and held him hostage for ransom'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XV3-J_hDm88 It was a stunning scene that outraged a California community – a seemingly harmless woman, held at gunpoint by five police officers during a dramatic traffic stop. But now a story even more shocking has emerged, revealing the woman was allegedly involved in the kidnapping of two Los Angeles actors. It sounds like a scene out of a Hollywood movie: Two actors, captured for a ransom scheme, pistol-whipped and dragged into a car, leaving behind only a trail of blood. Daisy McCrackin and Joseph Capone were allegedly kidnapped from McCrackin’s home on May 3, 2017 by Keith Andre Stewart and Johnate Jones. Amber Neal, the woman who was arrested at the Inglewood Starbucks on Monday, was also allegedly involved. Stewart and Jones allegedly pistol-whipped Capone and dragged him to a car before forcing McCrackin in as well and covering both of their heads with black hoods. They drove to Jones’ home in Compton, where Capone would be tortured for 30 hours, according to an indictment obtained by New York Daily News. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSZop9VSqfU Compton was allegedly stripped naked, beaten, punched, kicked, and held in a bathroom without food for more than a day. He was also allegedly assaulted with a ‘semiautomatic’ firearm by Stewart. Meanwhile, Jones and Neal allegedly drove McCrackin to multiple Bank of America locations in her 2011 red Lexus. They demanded she pay $10,000 for Capone’s release and she wrote a check to Neal, who deposited the money into her personal account, prosecutors said. Jones and Neal then allegedly took McCrackin back to her home and stole her car. McCrackin immediately called for help. Stewart and Jones were taken into custody, but Neal was not arrested until Monday morning. Video filmed by a bystander shows Neal emerging from her car with her hands up and walking backwards toward the armed officers before laying on the ground. Inside the store, a customer is heard saying ‘look at her she’s scared for her life’, and ‘she looks like the most unharmful person’. After the video was shared an onslaught of outrage was quickly directed at the Los Angeles Police Department from citizens who claimed police heightened their response because the woman was black. In response the LAPD released a statement saying they were aware the video ‘had raised concerns from the community’. ‘Although we are limited in what info we can release, we can confirm this individual was arrested on a felony kidnapping warrant and taken into custody without a use-of-force,’ the statement read. ‘She is being held on $1million bail.’ On Tuesday the LAPD confirmed that Neal was one of three people who had been charged with kidnapping the actors and holding Capone for ransom. Neal, Jones, and Stewart have all been charged with 17 felony counts that include kidnapping, assault with a firearm, grand theft, mayhem, conspiracy, and possession for sale of methamphetamine. Jones and Neal have also been charged with perjury after they allegedly tried to declare that McCrackin’s Lexus was a ‘gift’ to them. Jones is being held on $3million bail and Stewart is being held on $2million bail. All three suspects face life in prison if convicted. The grand jury indictment was unsealed by the Los Angeles County Superior Court on Tuesday. McCrackin’s credits include Jane the Virgin, Halloween: Resurrection, and She Rises.

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UNP to hold disciplinary inquiry

The United National Party is to begin disciplinary proceedings against State Minister Vijayakala Maheshwaran today (4), Party Spokesman Harin Fernando announced yesterday. Minister Fernando told Daily Mirror that they had asked Ms. Maheshwaran to appear before them today for an inquiry to be conducted into a statement attributed to her calling for the resurgence of the LTTE in the North. Meanwhile, it was announced that State Minister Vijayakala Maheshwaran is to clarify her statement that had created a huge controversy in the country on Friday (6). Minister Fernando told a news conference yesterday that Ms. Maheswaran will publicly clarify what she said in her statement at a media briefing to be held on Friday. “I have spoken to Ms. Maheshwaran who is in Jaffna at the moment and she had agreed to go before media and clarify her statement. According to what Ms. Maheshwaran told me it is clear that what the media has reported is not what she actually said. However I am not going to come out with any details now as I want to leave it to her to clarify her own statement,” he said. Minister Fernando said the UNP rejects any statement which calls for the resurgence of the LTTE and will carry out a disciplinary inquiry against Ms. Maheshwaran. “We in the UNP do not want to see another Prabhakaran emerging in the North and neither do we want to see a Hitler coming out of the South,” he added. Minister Fernando, who touched on the recent New York Times report, said former President Mahinda Rajapaksa should submit an affidavit if he had not obtained money from any Chinese Company. “It was revealed one year ago that the company that constructed the port and offered to get into a partnership with the Sri Lankan government had offered only Rs. 700 million, claiming that the cost of construction was the said amount. However, the former government claimed that it spent Rs 1.7 billion for the construction of the Port. One could see what the New York Times is talking about when looking at this situation,” he added. (Yohan Perera) (Dailymirror)

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Neymar on target as Brazil ease into World Cup quarter-finals

Brazil cruised into the quarter-finals of the World Cup on Monday as goals from Neymar and substitute Roberto Firmino gave them a 2-0 victory over Mexico to stay on course for a sixth title. Neymar was criticised for his early performances in Russia as he eased his way back to fitness after a broken foot bone, but he carved open a tough Mexican defence without quite reaching his dazzling best. After a goalless first half on a hot afternoon in Samara, the world’s most expensive player tapped in from the impressive Willian’s cross for his second goal of the tournament on 51 minutes. As Brazil pressed their advantage, Neymar set up Firmino for another close-range finish that sealed the victory. In between, he writhed in agony on the turf after a Mexican opponent appeared to stand on his ankle, but the referee ruled there had been no foul and Neymar was soon on his feet. Mexico threatened at times but their World Cup challenge was ended at the first knockout stage for the seventh consecutive tournament. Neymar said Mexico had made Brazil work hard: “We have to learn to suffer and we did suffer, it was a tough match. We knew they were a high-quality opponent.” Brazil will face the winners of the match later Monday between highly fancied Belgium and a Japan side dreaming of reaching the quarter-finals for the first time in their history after scraping through their group thanks to their fair-play record. Belgium are bristling with talent in the shape of Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku, but this World Cup has already shown that nothing can be taken for granted after a series of big names crashed out. Russian fans celebrated long into the night after they stunned 2010 winers Spain on penalties in an electric atmosphere at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday. Veteran goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev was the hero for the hosts, saving two spot-kicks. The win sparked an outpouring of joy on the streets of the capital, with disbelieving locals cheering, waving flags, blowing horns and yelling “Russ-i-a!” Russia, ranked a lowly 70th in the world, will play Croatia in the last eight after similar drama in Nizhny Novgorod, where Luka Modric saw his spot-kick saved late in extra time before they held their nerve to defeat Denmark in the penalty shootout. Spain had been considered among the favourites but their preparations were wrecked when coach Julen Lopetegui was sensationally sacked on the eve of the tournament. “The KO in the last 16 is another dark chapter in our history,” said Spanish sports daily Marca, adding that it was “incredible naivety” to think Lopetegui’s abrupt sacking would not affect the team. Spain join 2014 winners Germany, Argentina and European champions Portugal in exiting the competition, leaving just four former World Cup winners in the tournament. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who have dominated the game for the past decade, have gone home, their hopes of ever winning the World Cup probably over. Roberto Martinez’s dangerous Belgian side have lived up to their billing so far, winning all three group games. A host of key players including Hazard, Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne will be fresh after being rested in the 1-0 victory against England. However, Adnan Januzaj, who scored the winner in that match, suffered a knock to his knee in training. This is probably the best chance for Belgium’s so-called golden generation to win a major trophy after they were eliminated in the last eight at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016. “This is our time to shine, definitely. We have top players and we play as a group, especially after the win over England,” Chelsea star Hazard said. “It’s in our hands. We need to give everything and see what happens.” Japan reached this stage in controversial manner, by virtue of collecting fewer yellow cards in the group phase than Senegal. They have never won a knockout-round game at the competition. “Maybe Belgium feel the tournament is starting after their three wins, but I’d like to feel we are on a par with them. We have played to our best, but the players have something more to offer,” said Japan coach Akira Nishino. (dailymirror.lk)

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Mbappe double leads France past Argentina in 4-3 thrillerMbappe double leads France past Argentina in 4-3 thriller

(Daily Mirror) Teenager Kylian Mbappe scored two goals in four minutes to send a youthful France charging into the World Cup quarter-finals with a thrilling 4-3 win over Argentina on Saturday that sent Lionel Messi’s team home. The 19-year-old forward’s electric pace caused Argentina problems all afternoon and his twin strikes helped France overturn a 2-1 deficit and set up a meeting with Uruguay, who later beat Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal 2-1 in Sochi. Messi provided assists for two goals at the Kazan Arena but the 31-year-old was otherwise subdued in the nine”role and his fourth, and possibly final, crack at winning the World Cup was destined to end in disappointment. While Mbappe was the most influential player on the pitch, Argentina winger Angel Di Maria and France full back Benjamin Pavard fought out a private contest for the best goal of the match with two magnificent long-range strikes. Di Maria’s goal cancelled out Antoine Griezmann’s early penalty for France just before the break while Pavard’s in the 57th minute levelled the scores at 2-2 after Argentina had edged ahead through Gabriel Mercado. Mbappe, the first teenager since Brazilian great Pele, in the 1958 final, to score two goals in one World Cup match, then took over to send Argentina slumping out of the finals before the quarter-finals for the first time since 2002. Twice champions Argentina got a consolation through substitute striker Sergio Aguero in added time but they were simply unable to cope with Mbappe’s pace from his first surge towards the box after nine minutes. Javier Mascherano brought him down and Griezmann crashed the subsequent free kick off the bar but France only had to wait a couple of minutes to open the scoring. Mbappe set off on another driving run from well inside his own half and Marcos Rojo, well beaten for pace, bundled him to the deck inside the area. Griezmann’s strike from the spot was not as clean as his free kick but goalkeeper Franco Armani went the wrong way and the Frenchman converted his second penalty of tournament. Argentina looked shell-shocked at Mbappe’s early onslaught but Jorge Sampaoli’s side was full of big match experience and four minutes before the break they were level. Di Maria received a pass from the left, took one touch to tee up the ball and hit the sweetest shot into the top-left corner of Hugo Lloris’s goal from 40 metres. Three minutes into the second half and Argentina were ahead, Messi curling a shot hopefully towards Lloris and right back Mercado reacting instinctively to deflect the ball into the net. The Argentina fans were in full voice but France soon restored parity when Pavard pounced on an over-cooked cross some 20 metres out and lashed it into the net on the half-volley. Mbappe’s first goal came seven minutes later when he snared a loose ball, taking one touch to race past his marker and firing it home with his left foot through Armani’s dive.v

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