Ratwatte's return provokes commotion in Parliament

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 04 June 2002, 17:49 GMT]
Pandemonium prevailed in the Sri Lanka's parliament Thursday morning when the controversial former Deputy Defense Minister General Anurudhha Ratwatte entered the legislature. Members of the ruling party and the opposition shouted at each other when they saw General Ratwatte who was released on bail last week, walking to the well of the House to take his seat. The United National Front accuses him of unleashing violence, intimidation, election rigging and murder while he was the powerful deputy minister of defense in the People's Alliance government from 1995 to 2001

General Ratwatte was arrested three months ago along with his two sons Lohan and Chanuka in connection with the massacre of ten Muslim youths at Udathalawinne in Kandy district on the day of the last general elections, December 5, 2001. He was released on bail by the High Court last week after about three months in remand.

When this case was taken up for further inquiry before the Teldeniya Magistrate Monday the State Counsel for the prosecution informed court that the Attorney General would serve indictments on those responsible for the massacre within two weeks time in the High Court where a panel of three judges would hear this case without jury.

Of the eighteen suspects remanded in the case only General Ratwatte has been released on bail. Twenty-two suspects were discharged for want of evidence.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe Thursday informed the parliament that the Constitutional Council established under the 17th amendment to the constitution has started functioning. He made this announcement when presenting a proposal to the House to obtain sanction to pay allowances to members and staff of several commissions to be appointed by the Constitutional Council.

Under the 17th amendment, the Constitutional Council is empowered to set up independent commissions for Police, Elections, Judiciary and Public Service.

The Prime Minister further stated that members of these commissions are to be appointed shortly. The government has forwarded all names it received to the President for her approval. The parliament would be informed of the activities of the constitutional council from time to time, he said.


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