The Lanka Academic

APRIL 8, 2008 EST, USA
VOL. 9, NO. 3


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Weerawansa refutes charge of indiscipline
hindu, april 9. COLOMBO: The ultra-nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Perumana (JVP) split on Tuesday with party’s vocal propaganda secretary and MP Wimal Weerawansa along with 10 parliamentarians raising a banner of revolt against the leadership and announcing their decision to function as a separate block in Parliament.

The development, though not unexpected since Mr. Weerawansa was suspended on March 21 from party membership on charges of indiscipline, took political observers by surprise as he managed to walk away with nearly one-third of the party MPs. One of them later walked out of the group.

Mr. Weerawansa chose Parliament to announce the decision of his party to place him under suspension and claimed that the central committee has voted in favour of his expulsion immediately after the Eastern elections.

Mr. Weerawansa said such an action would not please the “members of the party but the will and wish of external evil forces aiming at dividing the nation.” More... Discuss this story
Published: Tue Apr 8 16:46:24 EDT 2008

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JVP splits in two  - bbc

Sri Lankan military: New fighting kills 27 rebels, 1 soldier in north
Associated Press, Tue April 8, 2008 12:45 EDT . BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Fighting between government forces and Tamil separatists in Sri Lanka - 's embattled north left 27 rebels and one soldier dead, the military said Tuesday. The head of the rebels political wing, B. Nadesan, made the request Monday in a letter addressed to Norway's International Development Minister Erik Solheim, a key mediator in Sri Lanka - 's collapsed peace process, according a rebel Web site.

``We would like to place a request through you ... to take steps to immediately end the military assault of the holy Madhu shrine,'' Nadesan said.

Nanayakkara denied the rebels' accusation, saying the military has not conducted any offensives in the area near the church.

``They (the rebels) have resorted to their usual ploy to mislead the public as they are suffering defeat in the battlefront,'' he said.

Last week Catholic priests appealed to both government forces and Tamil rebels to avoid clashes near the church. Both the military and rebels accused each other of firing mortars onto the church grounds.

The Tamil Tigers have fought since 1983 for an independent homeland for ethnic minority Tamils, who have been marginalized for decades by successive governments run by ethnic Sinhalese. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the violence.

The latest round of battles came a day after a suspected rebel suicide bomber killed a government minister, a former Olympian and 12 others at the starting line of a marathon.

The suicide bombing Sunday struck as Highways Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle prepared to signal the start of a marathon outside the capital, Colombo, with the wave of a flag. Discuss this story
Published: Tue Apr 8 14:02:04 EDT 2008 Back to the top

Italian probe alleges huge arms sale bid by Libya in grab for global role
Associated Press, Tue April 8, 2008 10:59 EDT . ARIEL DAVID - Associated Press Writer - Court documents show the Italians had contact with international arms dealers to supply Russian-made tanks and helicopters, buy a naval cannon and night visors for Sri Lanka - , and procure rubber-coated bullets and tear gas launchers from a French company.

Many of the prospective deals appeared to fizzle out quickly. But prosecutors say the ring came close to success with a separate attempt to sell more than 100,000 AK-47s to Iraq, as well as with the Libyan case.

Since the 1 million-gun order for Libya was daunting, the Italians decided to seek an initial 500,000 rifles and 10 million bullets in China, according to the arrest warrants issued in Perugia.

They held talks with a trading company called China Jing An Import & Export Corporation, which in turn was to procure the arms from China's giant, state-owned North Industries Corp., also known as Norinco. Neither company responded to requests for comment.

In 2005, the U.S. government barred Norinco from doing business in the United States, accusing the company of helping Iran's missile program. Norinco has denied that allegation.

Libya's order was huge even for Norinco. Jing An warned the Italians that it would take more than two years to produce that many guns.

``You must be sure of the quantity of the order,'' said an e-mail from Jing An director Yin Weiguo. ``I have to admit that it's a big order, and a bit of a surprise for us.''

Before sending six rifles for testing by Tripoli, the Chinese also requested export documents known as end-user certificates showing Libya as the final recipient of the samples.

The job of obtaining the papers fell to Mansur and other Libyan officials, who, according to the court documents, were in the pay of the Italians.

Prosecutors believe the group paid the colonel and another Libyan Defense Ministry official at least $500,000 in kickbacks, including tuition payments for Mansur's son, studying in Britain. The Italians also agreed to share with the Libyans the profits from the deal.

Libyan officials in Tripoli and diplomats in Rome and at the United Nations declined to discuss the case, and requests for contacts for Mansur and other officials named in the probe were ignored.

Demands for even more money frayed relations between the Italians and their contacts during the spring and summer of 2006, as they waited for the paperwork from the Libyan government.

In one wiretapped conversation, Squarzolo, reporting to his bosses from Libya, suggested that Moretti call the colonel to smooth things out.

``I'm not calling Mansur,'' Moretti replied. ``Why should I call him, to hear him ask 'send money to my son?' Tell him we need results, not just requests and demands.''

The certificates were finally produced in July 2006, signed by an official identified in the court documents as Major General Abdulrahman Ali Alssied, the head of the Defense Ministry's procurement office.

While the Libyans conducted tests, the Italians and the Chinese hammered out the final contract for 10 million bullets, 300,000 T-56 rifles and 200,000 variants of the T-56 with a double handle.

The price tag was $40.9 million, which grew to $64.8 million after the Italians added a 60 percent profit. They told the Chinese that ``we have to share the commission with people in Libya.''

Peter Danssaert, a weapons trafficking expert at the International Peace Information Service an independent, Belgium-based institute that focuses on Sub-Saharan Africa said the huge order exceeded the needs of Libya's military.

Also, the type of T-56 rifle the Libyans were seeking is a decades-old model, an unlikely choice given Libya's drive to modernize its armed forces by buying anti-tank missiles and other advanced defense systems from Europe and Russia.

The outdated weapons could have been earmarked for low-tech forces in spots such as Chad, Sudan, Somalia or the Democratic Republic of Congo. Libya has been working to boost its clout on the continent, now that it has been relieved of U.N. sanctions and is restoring ties with the West, Danssaert said.

Libya now sits on the U.N. Security Council, after announcing in 2003 the dismantling of its clandestine nuclear arms program and compensating victims' families for the 1988 bombing of Pam Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Finardi, the expert at TransArmsEurope who researched the case, said that though it is impossible to say which factions within the African countries would have benefited from the huge shipment, it is likely that the weapons would have gone to government forces as part of Libya's push to strengthen ties with its neighbors.

However, in Iraq, there have been accusations that Libya is funneling arms to insurgents.

In January, a top Iraqi security official in Anbar province, police Col. Jubair Rashid Naief, accused Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, the eldest son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, of aiding a group of 150 foreign and Iraqi fighters responsible for several attacks in the area. Gadhafi has not commented on the allegation.

Back in 2006, Iraq also figured in another major negotiation by the Italian traffickers, who, separately from the Libya case, were working on a $40 million deal to sell more than 100,000 Russian-made AK-47s to the Iraqi Interior Ministry.

That deal, negotiated without the knowledge of the U.S. Baghdad command, was blocked along with the complex Libya scheme when Italian police stepped in to make the arrests.

AP writers Christopher Bodeen in Beijing, Alfred de Montesquiou in Tripoli and Charles J. Hanley in New York contributed to this report.
Published: Tue Apr 8 14:06:39 EDT 2008 Back to the top

Sri Lankan warplanes bomb Tamil rebel base as 50 fighters die in battles
Associated Press, Mon April 7, 2008 09:03 EDT . BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lankan air force jets destroyed a suspected training base for Tamil Tiger suicide attackers Monday, while new fighting in the raging civil war killed 49 rebels and one soldier, the military said... Back to the top

Sri Lankan rebels set up U.S. branch
The Washington Times, April 7, 2008. The Tamil Tigers, a terrorist organization whose suicide bombings and political assassinations have killed 4,000 people in the past two years, have quietly established a U... Back to the top

Sri Lanka s Economy May Expand 7% in 2008, Central Bank Says, 8 april. April 8 (Bloomberg) -- Sri Lanka's economic growth will accelerate this year as rising government spending and commodities exports counter weakening consumer confidence, the central bank said... Back to the top

Sri Lankan warplanes bomb Tamil rebel base after deadly suicide attack on government minister
Associated Press, Mon April 7, 2008 04:33 EDT . BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lankan air force jets Monday destroyed a Tamil rebel base suspected of being used to train suicide attackers, a day after a suicide bomber killed a government minister and 13 others, the Defense Ministry said... Back to the top

Colombo Bishop denounces LTTE brutal act, 8 april. The Bishop of Colombo Rt. Rev. Duleep de Chikera denounced the LTTE suicide attack on Sunday which killed 14 people including Minister of Highways and Road Development Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, and urged all right thinking people to condemn this type of brutal killing without reservations... Back to the top

Tamil rebels seek Norway help to stop Sri Lanka offensive, 8 april. COLOMBO (AFP) — Tamil Tiger rebels asked peace-broker Norway on Tuesday to pressure Sri Lanka's government to stop a military offensive in the island's north, saying a venerated Catholic church was at risk... Back to the top

Sri Lanka: EU condemns suicide blast which killed minister, April 7, 2008. Brussels, 7 April (AKI) - The European Commission, the executive of the European Union, on Monday strongly condemned the suicide bombing in Sri Lanka on Sunday which killed 14 people including a government minister... Back to the top

Sri Lanka shrine abandoned because of shelling, Apr. 7, 2008. .
Columbo, Apr. 7, 2008 ( - In Sri Lanka, a 400-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary has been removed from the beloved shrine at Madhu for safekeeping because of heavy artillery shelling in the region. Bishop Rayappu Joseph of the local Mannar diocese said that "the time has come for Our Lady of Madhu to vacate the area, along with the people, for the first time in more than 400 years... Back to the top

IAAF condemns bomb blast of marathon in Sri Lanka, April 7, 2008. COLOMBO, April 7 (Xinhua) -- The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has condemned the bomb blast at the start of a marathon in Sri Lanka that killed 15 people including a minister, a former Olympian and a national coach... Back to the top

Suicide attack at start of Sri Lanka marathon kills government minister, 13 others
Associated Press, Mon April 7, 2008 01:25 EDT . BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) A suicide bomber killed 14 people at an opening ceremony for a marathon Sunday, including a government minister who was nearing the starting line with a flag and a former Olympian... Back to the top

Gayle fined for slow over-rate v Sri Lanka
Reuters-UK, April 07, 2008, 07:45EDT. MUMBAI, India (Reuters) - West Indies captain Chris Gayle was fined 70 percent of his match fee for a code of conduct breach during the second and final test against Sri Lanka in Port-of-Spain, the International Cricket Council said on Monday... Back to the top

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