UNF govt to reduce 2002 defence expenditure

[TamilNet, Monday, 18 February 2002, 18:19 GMT]
The United National Front government (UNF) said Monday that the country's defense expenditure would be reduced in the new budget, which is scheduled to be tabled in parliament on March 18. "The current cessation of hostilities would continue even if the government and the Liberation Tigers failed to sign the Memorandum of Understanding before February 24. Both the UNF government and the LTTE would have to sign a common programme of action to make the cessation of hostilities a permanent ceasefire," said the Defense Minister Mr.Tilak Marapone addressing a press briefing Monday.

tilak_marapone.jpgMr.Marapone also rejected news reports that Sea Tigers had carried out a successful logistics run from the deep seas off Mullaithivu last Friday night.

Meanwhile, five Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers were identified at a parade held Monday before the Teldeniya Magistrate Ms. Inoka Ranasinghe, in connection Udathalawinne massacre of ten Muslim youths on the parliamentary election day (December 5) last year. Of the 34 suspects 31 are SLA soldiers. Of them six soldiers were produced in court for the identification parade. Five of them were identified, Monday.

The identification parade would be held in stages. One of the defence attorneys objected for holding the identification parade in stages. However the Magistrate overruled the objection and said they could raise the objection in higher court when the case is heard.

The main two suspects Lohan and Chanuka, sons of the former deputy defense minister and presently Kandy district parliamentarian General Anurudha Ratwatte did not appear in Court Monday. Police sources said the two suspects were absconding. Further identification parade was put off March 4.

In the meantime Mr.Tilak Marapone, Defense Minister said that he was satisfied with the investigation held into the Udathalawinne massacre. The matter is now before the Attorney General who would take a final decision shortly whom are to be indicted, legal sources said. Last week the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officials quizzed General Ratwatte, father of two main suspects at the fourth floor CID headquarters. General Ratwatte's statement has now been forwarded to the Attorney General for consideration.

 

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