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DateLine Sunday, 22 April 2007





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Government Gazette


Illicit hooch manufacturers nabbed during the festive season:

The Excise and the Police Department waged a relentless war against illicit hooch manufacturers, dealers and those who sold government Arrack during the prohibitive period of April 12. to 15 that coincided with the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

The decision to close down bars, hotels, restaurants, Karaoke night clubs that serve liquor during the festive season was taken by the government to stamp out violence that erupts as a result of drunkenness.

During festive season several persons have been stabbed to death after getting involved in drunken brawls. It is for these reasons perhaps and also in keeping with the Mahinda Chintana the government decided to shut down all liquor restaurants from April 12-15. However illicit liquor manufacturers, from provincial areas who wanted to make a fast buck while the ban was on weren't so lucky.

Several teams from the Excise Department fanned across the country and seized several illicit distilleries and sales outlets selling illicit liquor both Unlawfully Distilled Spirits (UDS) and Unlawfully Manufactured Liquor (UML) commonly known as Goda.

The following number of cases involving both UDS and UML cases were detected from the following provinces.

Western Province 268 cases, N.W.P 236,Central 111, Sabaragamuwa 95, NCP 40, Uva 18, totalling up to 829 cases.

The Excise Commissioner D.G.V.M. Hapuarachchi speaking to the "Sunday Observer" said the biggest detection involving 600 litres of UDS from Ja-Ela and 21,000 litres of UML (Goda) from Ma-Eliya were detected by his men during the period April 12 to 15. Action will be taken to prosecute suspects arrested before provincial Magistrate courts. However no liquor bar or hotel in the city of Colombo or elsewhere for that matter was detected flouting the ban, he said.

Meanwhile Asst. Supdt. of Police V. Ranaweera from the Central Anti Vice Striking Unit said five police teams were detailed to watch hotels, bars, restaurants and karaoke night clubs for defying the ban on liquor from April 12-15. Prior to the commencement of the New Year 35 cases of illicit liquor were detected from different parts of the country.

Act No 27 of the Tobacco and Alcohol provides wide powers to police with regard to smoking in public places and sale, purchase of liquor by minors, he said.

The Officer-in-Charge of the Police Central Anti Vice Striking Unit, (CAVSU) Inspector Duminda Balasooriya said four police teams consisting of 40 persons were detailed country wide to effectively enforce the liquor ban from April 12-15.

The unit was successful in detecting 80 cases of Unlawfully Distilled Spirits (UDS) and Unlawfully Manufactured Liquor along with sale of Government Arrack during this period. The cases detected were from areas like Puttalam, Chilaw, Ja-Ela, Wattala, Kitulgala, Matugama, Nugegoda and other areas.

Meanwhile Police took into custody 80 persons along with distilling equipment worth Rs 15 lakhs. Inspector Balasooriya said they were successful in detecting some liquor bars flouting the liquor ban behind close doors. Several policemen in civilian clothes posing off as genuine customers were able to purchase Government Arrack from some liquor shops.

The shop owners modus operandi was to put up shutters to give the impression the shop was closed but transact business through the rear entrance. Inspector Balasooriya further said the CAVSU, was able to conduct 19 raids in areas like Piliyandala, Kalutara and Chilaw alone and detect 525 bottles of Kasippu. The suspects would be produced in court, he said.

Meanwhile security in Colombo city during the festive season was tight with several mobile and armed Special Task Force men on motor cycles patrolling the city. There were no major incidents reported from the city except for a shooting incident that occurred at Kotahena police area last Tuesday.

A three wheeler taxi driver was shot dead by an unidentified gunman at Green Lane Kotahena around 1.45 p.m when he came there on a hire. According to Kotahena police the taxi driver was shot twice on the head and he immediately succumbed to injuries. The postmortem examination held on Wednesday revealed the nature of injuries were to his head.

However the motive for the shooting is being investigated by the Kotahena police. The taxi driver is a resident of Mattakuliya. He usually parks his three wheeler at his mother-in-law's house at Keselwatte.

The Kotahena Police are investigating whether the deceased driver was linked to any underworld gang. It is still not known who fired the gun shots and how the assassin got away. Police have not taken anybody into custody so far.

Investigations into the shooting incident is being made by OIC Crimes Kotahena Police, Sub Inspector Athula.

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