bombed as publisher flees
A major SLFP row over reports in the Lakmina newspaper - known to
be published by a faction of the party - took a new twist yesterday
when an armed gang hurled bombs and set fire to the newspaper office
at Welikada and the publisher pulled out saying he himself has received
that according to a complaint, the gang brandishing automatic weapons
had threatened two members of the staff before exploding bombs and
setting fire to newspapers and files in the premises. Yesterday's
incident came after the Lakmina openly attacked former minister
and Gampaha District Parliamentarian Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, making
several accusations against him.
told The Sunday Times he had sent a letter of demand to the Lakmina
seeking Rs. 100 million for alleged defamation. Adding to the confusion,
Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapakse has also openly attacked the
newspaper, accusing it of conducting personal vendettas.
with an editorial staff including another Gampaha district PA frontliner,
got another jolt when its publisher Ajith Gallage said he had broken
links with the newspaper because it owed him more than Rs. 100 million
and he also believed it was being used for personal vendettas, He
said he had been the publisher only upto the May 25 issue and had
nothing to do with the next issue on June 1.
He said he had
received warnings that he would be killed if he did not go ahead
with publishing the Lakmina. With mystery within mystery, the June
1 issue of Lakmina also attacked publisher Gallage but there was
no Lakmina for this week.
this week among its other stories reported that a Kalutara district
minister who visited flood victims had returned with five lorry
loads of soil and had found gems in them. It said the minister had
taken away the gems and was avoiding his friends who helped him.
The attack on the office came after the Lakmina newspaper hit the
streets earlier in the day.
Rajapakse has been excluded from crucial planning sessions and several
committees appointed for restructuring of the party and other purposes
before the convention on June 22 in Nittambuwa.
Kumaratunga, former Premier Ratnasiri Wickremanayake and frontliners
like Anura Bandaranaike are heading some of the committees. Mr.
Rajapakse told The Sunday Times yesterday he was told that he would
be included in these committees, but the party had not informed
him about his non-inclusion.
He declined to make any further comment.
from Virginia admits selling US visas in Sri Lanka
Saturday (AFP) - A Virginia man has pleaded guilty to participating
in a scam to sell US visas out of the US Embassy in Sri Lanka, the
US Justice Department said.
of Herndon, Virginia, pleaded guilty before a federal judge in in
Sacramento, California to one count of conspiring to defraud the
United States, bribe State Department officials and commit visa
fraud in exchange for cooperating in an investigation against the
eight other accused co-conspirators.
Two US nationals
employed at the US embassy in Sri Lanka were arrested last month.
The government indicted Acey Johnson, 32, and his wife, Long Lee,
51, on charges of visa fraud and human smuggling.
to a criminal complaint unsealed April 29, 2003, the defendants
were allegedly involved in a scheme in which Johnson and Lee took
hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes between 2000 and 2003
in exchange for the issuance of visas to various foreign nationals,
primarily from Vietnam and India," the Justice Department said
in a statement.
Mr. Virk, 46,
faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. All nine defendants,
are charged with conspiring to defraud the United States and to
bribe public officials and to commit visa fraud.
defendants also appeared before Judge Garland Burrell. Johnson,
until recently a Consular Associate employed in the consular section
of the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka; and Lee, a State Department Foreign
Service Officer and career State Department employee are also in
Singh Bhullar, 40, of Sacramento; Phuong-Hien Lam Trinh, 35, of
Torrance, California; and Rachhpal Singh, 32, of Hayward, California
were previously released on bail. A ninth defendant is a fugitive.
stand on Dalai Lama unchanged
reports that the Dalai Lama had stated on Wednesday that the Chinese
Government's official attitude is more positive, a Foreign Ministry
official said that Sri Lanka's position regarding the Dalai Lama
position on Tibet has not changed. The Sri Lankan government still
refuses to grant a visa to the Dalai Lama," a Ministry official
said, adding that Sri Lanka wants to maintain cordial relations
with mainland People's Republic of China. The Dalai Lama was refused
a visa to visit Sri Lanka during the Vesak celebrations, and this
has been the case even previously.
The Dalai Lama
who is in Dharmasala, India, after fleeing Tibet in 1959 following
a failed uprising against Chinese rule is reported to have said
he expected to return to China and Tibet at some point in the future.
by The Sunday Times regarding the statement made by the Dalai Lama,
a senior official of the Chinese Embassy who did not wanted to be
identified said, "The Dalai Lama issue is a Chinese national
issue," and added that China considered Sri Lanka to be one
of it close friends and did not intervene in national issues and
likewise Sri Lanka too should not intervene in the national issues
said that it is a misconception that the Dalai Lama is a purely
religious leader, and added that his objective was to separate Tibet
"The Chinese government also wants the Dalai Lama to come back
to Tibet. But we hope that the Dalai Lama will give up the attempt
to separate Tibet from China," he said.
Like your country
which does not want to allow separatism, China too does not want
to allow separatism, the official said. Two of the Dalai Lama's
envoys visited China late last month. It was the second visit made
In the early part of the 7th century Buddhism came to Tibet from
China and Nepal.
for Sri Lanka - China Social and Cultural Co-operation last month
stated in a release that apart from the 2000 Islam followers and
600 Catholics all others living in Tibet are followers of Tibetan
Buddhism, also known as the Lama's religion and is a part of Chinese