Govt : Chava explosives
suspect held under PTA



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By Shamindra Ferdinando


Law and Order Secretary Jagath P. Wijeweera and Defence Secretary Hettiarachchi (pic by Dimuthu Premaratne)


The government yesterday admitted, that an LTTE cadre arrested in the north following the detection of explosives during the last week of March was being detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).


The police arrested 32-year-old Edward Julian alias Ramesh as he was fleeing the Jaffna peninsula after Chavakachcheri police found a suicide jacket, four claymore mines, three parcels containing about 12 kilos of TNT, two battery packs as well as 100 rounds of 9mm ammunition in his house in the Meesalai area.


In answer to a query posed by The Island the police admitted at a media conference at Defence Ministry media centre that the suspect was being held under the PTA. The meeting was chaired by Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi.


Senior DIG Nandana Munasinghe said that the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) was inquiring into the matter. The suspect was being held under the PTA, the senior officer in charge of crimes, traffic, legal and narcotics said.


Senior DIG Munasinghe briefly explained measures taken by the police in the wake of a sudden spike in violence.


When The Island pointed out that Law and Order and Southern Development Minister Sagala Ratnayake had recently received an assurance from the UN that it would help Sri Lanka draft a comprehensive counter-terrorism legislation to replace the PTA, Secretary to Law and Order and Southern Development Ministry Jagath P. Wijeweera said that the PTA had been a necessity during the conflict and it certainly facilitated the war against terrorism. However, now that the war was over, the international community expected Sri Lanka to repeal the PTA, Wijeweera stressed. The official asserted that Sri Lanka should move along with the international community.


Minister Ratnayake’s ministry has announced that the repealing of the PTA was in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions and international best practices.


Minister Ratnayake received the assurance from Executive Director of the Counter Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) Jean Paul Laborde during a meeting on Monday (18) in New York.


Secretary Wijeweera strongly defended requirement for PTA during the war.


Post war situation and other emerging threats would be taken into consideration when new legislation was introduced, Wijeweera said.


Both Defence Secretary Hettiarachchi and Law and Order Secretary Ratnayake stressed that the government wouldn’t leave room for a vacuum in required legislation to ensure national security.


Law and Order Secretary Wijeweera stressed that they wouldn’t tolerate threats to security.


The Defence Secretary said formalisation of the new law would take time as it dealt with complex issues. The ministries of Foreign Affairs and Justice as well as a group of lawyers had been engaged in the process.


Defence Secretary Hettiarachchi asserted that the UK currently had far stronger legislation against terrorism than Sri Lanka. He stressed the importance of Sri Lanka having legislation to meet any eventuality against the backdrop of the decision to repeal the PTA.


Responding to another query by The Island, Defence Secretary Hettiarachchi revealed that of approximately 900 weapons illegally moved out of the military and police, about 700 had been recovered. The remaining weapons had to be found, Defence Secretary Hettiarachchi said, adding that all those having weapons acquired under whatever the circumstances could hand them over to the government during the current amnesty period (April 25-May 6).


Defence Secretary Hettiarachchi said that in line with the new government policy, the Defence Ministry would shortly appoint a committee to look into the issuance of weapons to individuals. He stressed the need to restrict the weapons issued to civilians.


Asked whether the government intended to continue with the practice of issuing weapons to members of parliament while seeking to recover weapons in the hands of civilians, Defence Secretary Hettiarachchi said that the matter had been brought to the notice of President Maithripala Sirisena and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe. In an obvious reference to the recent controversy over the failed bid to replace former President and Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa’s army bodyguards with the Ministerial Security Division (MSD), Defence Secretary Hettiarachchi said that when decisions were taken such moves were opposed.


The Defence Secretary declined to comment on the recent appointment of Pujith Jayasundera as successor to IGP N.K. Illangakoon.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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