Prisons Dept. calls for report on gallows at Welikada Prison

The Prisons Department has called for a report on the present status of the gallows in the Welikada Prison.

The only operational gallow belonging to the Prisons Department is located in the Welikada Prison since the gallows at the Bogambara Prison were removed during the process of shifting the Bogambara prison from Kandy.

Necessary measures would be taken to refurbish and restructure the gallow following the submission of the report, Prisons Commissioner General T.M.J.W. Tennakoon said.

However, he noted that the scaffold at the Welikada Prison had been maintained and is in a usable condition despite not being used for several years.

Norwegian to lease planes, postpone sales after grounding of Boeing MAX


OSLO (Reuters) – Norwegian Air will lease planes and postpone the sale of older models in its fleet following the grounding of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, the airline said on Monday.

The budget carrier will also use some of its bigger Boeing 787 Dreamliners to offset the effects of the grounding of its 18 MAX jets – about 11 percent of its fleet.

The 737 MAX was grounded worldwide this month following a deadly crash in Ethiopia.

“In addition to continuing combining flights and reallocating aircraft, the company has decided to delay potential sales of six Boeing 737-800 aircraft and use available 787 Dreamliner capacity on high-volume routes, which will add flexibility,” Norwegian said in a statement.

“The company is further preparing to wetlease aircraft to fill the remaining capacity gap,” it added, referring to the industry practice of renting fully-staffed aircraft for a period of time.

Norwegian said earlier this month it would seek compensation from Boeing for costs resulting from the grounding of the global MAX fleet.

“The company has a good dialogue with Boeing and is confident of reaching a constructive agreement,” Norwegian said, without elaborating.

Ten children killed by U.S. air strike in Afghanistan: U.N.

KABUL (Reuters) – Ten children, part of the same extended family, were killed by a U.S. air strike in Afghanistan, along with three adult civilians, the United Nations said on Monday.

The air strike early on Saturday was part of a battle between the Taliban and combined Afghan and U.S. forces that lasted about 30 hours in Kunduz, a northern province where the Taliban insurgency is strong.

The children and their family had been displaced by fighting elsewhere in the country, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said, releasing its preliminary findings about the incident. UNAMA said in a statement that it is verifying that all 13 civilian casualties occurred around the time of the air strike.

Three other civilians were wounded. The incident happened in the Telawka neighborhood near Kunduz city.

Sgt. Debra Richardson, spokeswoman for the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, confirmed that U.S. forces carried out an air strike, but she said on Monday that the mission still had not confirmed that it had caused civilian casualties.

Lebanon PM Hariri has heart procedure in Paris

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri has undergone a “precautionary” heart procedure in Paris, his office said on Monday.

“Hariri this morning underwent a cardiac catheterization and stent insertion procedure at the American Hospital in Paris,” the statement said.

Quoting his doctor, the statement said Hariri, 48, was “in good health” and would be returning to his home in Paris in the evening.

STF nab two associates of ‘Dematagoda Chaminda’ with heroin

Two close associates of organised criminal Dematagoda Chaminda have been arrested by Special Task Force personnel today (Mar 25).

The suspects have been identified as 27-year old T. Kasun Chinthaka alias 'Welipare Kasun' and 46-year old W.A. Udaya Kumara alias 'Lal Baba'.

Both suspects are residents of Welipara, Peliyagoda, Police Spokesman S.P. Ruwan Gunasekara said adding that 'Welipare Kasun' has been identified as an Army deserter.

He noted that 50 grams of heroin which was in the possession of the susepcted were also taken into custody by STF personnel.

UPDATE : Five including PTL Chairman Geoffrey Aloysius remanded until Apr 05

Five suspects including Perpetual Treasuries Ltd Chairman Geoffrey Aloysius, and former Central Bank Deputy Governor Paththinige Samarasiri have been remanded until April 05 over the bond scam case.

Accordingly, three Directors of Perpetual Treasuries Ltd. Pushamithra Gunawardena, Chitra Ranjan Hulugalle, and Muthuraja Surendran who were also among those arrested have been remanded until the said date.

The suspects were arrested by Criminal Investigations Department (CID) officials at their residences following which they were produced before Colombo Chief Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne.

Charges were filed against the suspects under eight counts for violating the Public Property Act, and the SEC Act.

The Magistrate had remanded the suspects by considering the heavy losses incurred by the government and the seriousness of the offences committed by the suspects.

Deputy Solicitor General Haripriya Jayasundara had told court that former Central Bank Deputy Governor Mr. Samarasiri had aided and abetted this scandal by following the instructions of Arjuna Mahendran while serving as the Chairman of the Tender Committee for the issuance of treasury bonds at the time of the scam. The other suspects too were charged with abetting the offence.

However, the attorney representing Geoffrey Aloysius had sought a court order to release his client on bail by claiming that the latter was not implicated in this case.

Related story

Fmr CBSL Dep. Governor, three Perpetual Treasuries Directors' arrested over Bond Scam

Drugs to be sold at a discounted 5% rate for clergymen at Osu Sala outlets

The Health Ministry has decided to sell pharmaceutical drugs at all Osu Sala outlets at a five percent discounted rate to clergymen.

Relevant instructions have been issued by Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne to State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) Chairman M.H.M. Rumie in this regard, a spokesman for the Health Ministry said.

The spokesman noted that drugs at Osu Sala outlets are currently being sold at a five percent discounted rate to pregnant mothers, children below the age of five, and those above the age of 55.

SriLankan flight UL 504 makes emergency landing in Romania

SriLankan flight UL 504 which was heading towards Sri Lanka from London was diverted to Bucharest, Romania today (Mar 25) due to the sudden illness of a passenger.

The captain took the decision to divert to the nearest airport and alerted airport authorities at Bucharest’s Henry Coanda International Airport, a statement from the Airline said.

 The A330-300 aircraft was several hours into its flight from London Heathrow when the female passenger experienced difficulties in the early hours shortly after midnight.

Upon landing, airport medical personnel immediately boarded the aircraft and provided medical assistance to the passenger, who was suspected to be suffering from kidney failure. The passenger’s situation was eventually stabilized.

Meanwhile, the 195 passengers who were travelling on the flight were provided hotel accommodation in Bucharest. The statement said the flight is to continue on to Colombo as soon as possible.


Enterprise Sri Lanka mobile service flags off in Weligama; 1327 eligible to receive loans

Some 1327 individuals were found to be eligible to receive concessionary loans by government banks during the Enterprise Sri Lanka mobile service which was held in Weligama over the weekend, the Finance Ministry said in a press release.

The Ministry noted that 620 individuals were identified as those who could receive loans from government banks while 387 were registered to receive loans from the Rural Development Bank and 300 people were approved for loans from the People's Bank.

More than 7,000 individuals took part in the Enterprise Sri Lanka mobile service, the release noted.

The Finance Ministry emphasised that individuals who wish to obtain loans with concessionary interest rates upto Rs 750 million in order to start-up businesses must produce their business proposal before the said banks. The release said this was because certain individuals faced difficulties while repaying the loan due to the lack of understanding on the operation of the business.

Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry said that 450 individuals had registered their business under the tourism development programme out of which 50 businesses had been approved during the mobile service itself.

Admin. officer suspended for soliciting bribe while admitting child to school

An administrative officer at a national school in Galle has been suspended from his services for soliciting a bribe to admit a Grade One student.

The Ministry of Education has launched a special investigation in order to initiate further disciplinary action against the officer.

Officials attached to the Internal Audit division of the Education Ministry upon a tip-off received via the special hotline which was launched recently with the motive of distancing bribery and corruption from the Education sector.

The Education Ministry has already commenced investigations into incidents during which parents have been mislead by school authorities in order to obtain money while admitting their children and while also transferring teachers.

Certain cases are being further investigated by the Bribery Commission and the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).

(Additional reporting by Damith Wickramasekara)