1 December, 2021

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Supreme Court Rubbishes Jaliya’s Appeal Against Diplomatic Immunity Waiver

In a stunning verdict, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka last week dismissed an appeal by former ambassador Jaliya Wickremasuriya who filed legal action to have his diplomatic immunity restored, to prevent his prosecution on charges of money laundering and wire fraud in the United States.

Jaliya and Mahinda

The dismissal leaves Wickremasuriya with no choice but to face criminal charges and possibly a prison term in the United States after he was accused of major financial fraud by US law enforcement authorities and prosecutors during his time as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Washington, DC.

The shock determination was delivered by Justice Vijitha Malalgoda, even after a team of high-profile criminal lawyers repeatedly reminded the Bench hearing the case that the orders to restore Wickremasuriya’s diplomatic immunity and help him to escape criminal prosecution in the US came from no less than President Gotabaya Rajapaksa himself.

In January 2019, Wickremasuriya who is first cousin to President Gotabaya and Prime Minister Mahinda, was indicted by the US District Court in the District of Columbia (Washington DC) on five counts, specifically two counts of money-laundering, two counts of wire fraud and one count of visa fraud violation by making false declarations in official US Government documentation.

Wickramasuriya is a US citizen who was first appointed as the Counsel General in Los Angeles in 2007 by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Later he was made Ambassador to the US in 2008 under his cousin’s administration. A tea trader without previous diplomatic experience, Wickramasuriya is accused of swindling US $ 332,000 via shell companies according to US law enforcement.

The US case mirrored a similar criminal probe by Sri Lanka’s now defunct Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID). Wickremasuriya was later arrested under the Offences Against Public Property Act. All criminal proceedings in Sri Lanka concerning Wickramasuriya were dropped after his cousin Gotabaya became the President in November 2019.

However, Wickramasuriya’s corruption cases in the US, where he remains a citizen have proceeded unhindered. This was made possible by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which in 2017 waived Wickremasuriya’s diplomatic immunity on account that the former Ambassador had defrauded Sri Lankan state funds during his tenure in DC.

In his petition before the Supreme Court, Wickremsuriya claimed that his actions in the US should be covered by diplomatic immunity, which would mean he would not be subject to criminal proceedings in the host country – the United States. Wickremasuriya remains an American citizen, making it possible for US authorities to prosecute him even on those terms, however the Sri Lankan Government decision to waive immunity for the fraudster Ambassador made the legal proceedings simpler. In October 2017, the US Embassy in Colombo was officially notified that the GOSL was waiving diplomatic immunity for its former ambassador, allowing the US investigation to proceed. Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Prasad Kariyawasam communicated the Government decision to the US Embassy in Colombo.

Undeterred, Wickremasuriya and his band of expensive lawyers pursued the case for diplomatic immunity to be restored in the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal dismissed his petition without even issuing notice on respondents in March 2018. Soon afterwards, Wickremasuriya’s lawyers took the case to Supreme Court.

Following Wickremasuriya’s absolution within the highly corrupt Sri Lankan legal system after his first cousin Gotabaya assumed office as President 2019, there was a renewed effort on the part of the Government to get the US authorities to drop the case against the former Sri Lankan ambassador. Wickremasuriya’s efforts to have his immunity restored were pursued with new vigour following the election of Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The crusade began with Secretary to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Dr PB Jayasundera firing off a letter to then Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha on 2 July 2020 instructing him to write to the US Embassy in Colombo, demanding the restoration of diplomatic immunity for Jaliya Wickremasuriya.

[See letter from Aryasinha referencing the Dr Jayasundera’s instructions]

In his diplomatic note to the US Embassy on Jayasundera’s instructions, Aryasinha claimed the decision to waive immunity for Wickremesuriya was made without the approval of then President Maithripala Sirisena. His note to the Embassy of the United States in Colombo added that there were no records at the Foreign Ministry or the Presidential Secretariat to the effect that the decision to waive immunity had been made by President Sirisena.

[See Diplomatic Note to the US Embassy in Colombo issued by former Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha]

Diplomatic Note from Ministry of Foreign Affairs to US Embassy in Colombo trying to reinstate Jaliya Wickremasuriya’s diplomatic immunity

The Supreme Court filings make it clear that current Foreign Secretary Admiral Jayanath Colambage had reiterated this claim in Jaliya Wickremasuriya’s defence.

The US Embassy refused the request in no uncertain terms, saying that there was no provision in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations that allowed for diplomatic immunity to be restored once it has been waived by a State.

[See response from US Embassy in Colombo to Aryasinha’s request]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Response to MFA from US Embassy regarding reinstatement of Wickremasuriya’s immunity.

 

In short, the Embassy said the internal workings of the Sri Lankan Government under President Sirisena were immaterial – a diplomatic note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was a valid communication from the Government of Sri Lanka.

Now, in his judgement Justice Malalgoda dismisses Wickremasuriya’s claim to diplomatic immunity, noting that Foreign Secretary Aryasinha, who sent the Diplomatic Note to the US embassy in July 2020, stating that there were no records at his ministry or the presidential secretariat, had not explained the circumstances under which a search had been carried out, and failed to inform court about whether he informed his predecessor (Kariyawasam) who had provided an affidavit to the contrary.

Justice Malalgoda’s judgment states that former Foreign Secretary Kariyawasam, the second respondent cited by Wickremasuriya and his lawyers in his Supreme Court appeal, had given an affidavit to court that then President Sirisena had instructed him to inform the US embassy in Colombo of the waiver.

Justice Malalgoda’s judgment makes note of the fact that while current Foreign Secretary Jayanath Colambage had submitted to court that he had failed to find evidence of the President’s decision to waive immunity for Wickremasuriya, the Admiral had not taken the position that no such decision had been made on or around 23 October 2017 by then President Sirisena to waive immunity. In short, the Judgment makes it clear that failure to find evidence of communication of the President’s decision is not evidence that such a decision was never made.

The Court disregarded statements and dismissed Wickremasuriya’s appeal with costs fixed at Rs 50,000.

For full judgment delivered against Jaliya Wickremasuriya by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka click here

 

 

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Latest comments

  • 14
    2

    soman

    Do think these poor farmers are traitors working for LTTE Diaspora?
    Watch this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiFxLmXpC3A

    • 0
      0

      Bloody blind Freddy could’ve seen this coming!

      This is what happens …….. when the average intellectual-capacity, most humans are born with, ……. is not allowed to fully develop by a hocus-pocus education! :))

      I’m starting to enjoy this!!

      Native, is it just Schadenfreude ……. or am I turning into a full-blown raving sadist?


      Appreciation for good ol’ VP coming from an unexpected quarter ……. if the link doesn’t come up do a search for ” #Arambepola #Dan #Wimal “

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCtIgB2YypI

      • 2
        0

        nimal fernando

        “Native, is it just Schadenfreude ……. or am I turning into a full-blown raving sadist?”

        We know poor people in abject poverty.
        I don’t think you are deriving pleasure at other’s, particularly the poor people’s misfortune, though I am not sure don’t you get kick out of our religious and political leaders.

        Thanks for the link.
        He says this island is being sold piece by piece Hindia and China.
        Rather than complaining about it why does not he campaign for sale of the entire country to Singapore (Scandinavians, Swiss, Germany……………..) and divide the proceeds among all the people equally?

        However SJ might suggest otherwise.
        As far as I know he wants the Chinese to own this island.

        “This is what happens …….. when the average intellectual-capacity, most humans are born with, ……. is not allowed to fully develop by a hocus-pocus education! :))”

        I agree, however there must be a way out of this labyrinth of social and political culture.

        Do you know anyone or a group of people who can THINK? If we have, drag them from wherever they are hiding or whomever they are hiding from, actually this is the time they will have to free themselves from their comfort zone, ….. come out and do something to salvage this island.

        The only Buddhist I have known and respect is Ven Mahagalkadawala Punyasara Maha Nayake Thero, Viharadhipath, Rajachethiyaramaya, Gopallawa, Gokarella.

  • 28
    1

    Wickremasuriya being a US citizen and the first cousin to President Gotabaya and Prime Minister Mahinda, was a tea trader without any previous diplomatic experience. But he has swindled US $ 332,000 according to US law enforcement. It is ridiculous how Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed him Consul General and later as Ambassador to the US when there many eligible candidates in the Foreign Ministry. One ponders whether Mahinda & Gota can deceive and dictate terms on US like in Sri Lanka. I think the Supreme Court is correct in dismissing Jaliya Wickremaratne’s appeal and restored the Supreme Court’s glory. Gota should forget that he cannot meddle with the proceedings in the US like how he released the convicted prisoners and promote them in Sri Lanka. If there were orders to restore Wickremasuriya’s diplomatic immunity and help him to escape criminal prosecution in the US from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa himself, then the US should confiscate Gota’s property in the US. Justice should not only be done but manifestly seem to be done.

    • 3
      1

      soman:

      While we are talking about diplomatic protocols, I am wondering what our Ambassador to Germany wizkid, Bat Woman, Manori Unambuwe is doing to stop thousands (?) your brethren Bhaja Govindam (Praise/Seek Govinda) “Our Leader” Prabaharan mob, waving the horrible LTTE Flag and demanding UK arrested Gota for committing war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, ………… of Tamils, ….. as second, third, fourth, fifth,…. generation UK Tamils could have participated in the protest.

      This is what she said earlier:
      ” “We must develop different story lines that will have traction in Germany such as emphasis on sovereignty and territorial integrity. We must highlight that terrorism is very much alive with the LTTE, ISIS and others. The fight today is in cyberspace for example there was an Instagram campaign recently which ran the tag line – I am a Tamil and the genocide is a part of my identity. These things must be monitored closely and countered. You have to have a Counter terrorism Task Force on Cyberspace to monitor these campaigns in Europe and use Sri Lankan (Sinhala) youth as a front to counter these things,”

      Bat woman needs to know effect of VP’s Bhaja Govindams (Praise/Seekers Govinda) are very much, on your face, on the streets, on the walls, on moving electronic bill boards.

    • 2
      0

      “If there were orders to restore Wickremasuriya’s diplomatic immunity and help him to escape criminal prosecution in the US from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa himself, then the US should confiscate Gota’s property in the US. “
      *
      Under what legal provisions can this happen?

      • 2
        0

        Eagle Blind Eye

        Today Daily News reported an unidentified female body was found inside traveling bag.

        Could you account for the last two days.
        Did you visit Sapugaskanda oil refinery recently?

  • 14
    2

    Tea business is still good, with or without Immunity, so no worries!
    He (JW) may soon be reappointed as Ambassador extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Sri Lanka to the USA.
    Then he will have the “Last Laugh” in ‘Medamulana’ style when he will regain his Immunity.
    If he has been patient, he could have saved 50,000 costs.
    Does not matter now, Sell more tea at good prices from the embassy precinct

    • 1
      0

      Mahila: The problem with “Rajapakse &Co” is, they give priority to making the relatives, friends, and “Financiers” rich and comfortable expecting a return in “Retirement”. Now this “JS” should have been allowed to remain in “Tea Business”, instead of “Rajapakses” making him engage in “Monkey Business”.

    • 2
      0

      “He (JW) may soon be reappointed as Ambassador extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Sri Lanka to the USA.”

      The other country (The USA) has to accept him as an ambassador for this to happen.

      This is how his troubles started …. after his stint in Washington as the Lankan ambassador he was posted to Canada …….. and Canada, before accepting him, checked with America and was informed of all his illegal activities ……. as a result Canada refused to accept him ……..

      • 1
        0

        nimal fernando

        Please forget these political machination for a minute.
        There is a revolution (by reactionaries?) taking place in the East.
        Backlash against rationalism
        You should be very proud about the rulers and their cronies.
        Please read this:

        Those who misuse public funds will be born as a demon in next birth: EP governor
        https://www.dailymirror.lk/latest_news/Those-who-misuse-public-funds-will-be-born-as-a-demon-in-next-birth-EP-governor/342-224047
        Daily Mirror
        4 November 2021

        This is the same person who is willing to steal pastoral land from people who have traditionally been using it for grazing, and divided into 5 acres plot and distributed to people who have nothing to do with the land.
        https://island.lk/tna-mp-raises-privilege-issue-against-ep-governor/

        What is wrong these ………

        • 1
          0

          nimal fernando

          By the way are you with the people or with crooks?

          • 2
            0

            nimal fernando

            Basil seeks Mahanayake blessings for 2022 Budget
            1 November 2021
            ft.lk

            You should boost his morale which seems to be too low for the Finance Minister even though World Bank has approved $500 million loan.

            Will you help him open a bank account in the US?

          • 0
            0

            Is that a question you should ask, Native?

            Of course I’m with the crooks ……. my middle name is Rajapakse.

            Once a Rajapakse, always a Rajapakse.

  • 21
    1

    Are we expected to hail the Supreme Court decision … ? What is stunning is not the verdict but the jubilation over it. Our courts have a record of unpredictable inconsistent verdicts!

    • 2
      0

      Nathan: The verdict was not at all surprising, because the SC was “Bound” by the “Documentary Evidence” of withdrawal of “Diplomatic Immunity” that which cannot be “Replaced” as per the International Conventions and Rules. Even the application by “JS” to our SC is not surprising, because “Rajapakse Clan” thinks that they “CAN” and “PLAY AROUND” with the Judicial System and twist the arms of the Judges. In most of the “Local” matters, they “Succeed” but when it comes to “International” matters they are caught by the “Balls”.

    • 1
      2

      The Supreme Court cannot win, whatever its verdict!

    • 1
      0

      Nathan

      Please enlighten me, why does LTTE diaspora (Bhaja VP Govindam) carry/wave LTTE’s horrible flag in every protest it organises?

      What value does it add to their failed military campaign madness)?

      • 1
        0

        Enlightening is a big word. How do I do that? I am flummoxed, NV.
        Let me try my best.
        The flags they wave is a ‘gift’. They don’t have to pay for it.

        • 1
          0

          Nathan

          “The flags they wave is a ‘gift’. They don’t have to pay for it.”

          It is actually a tiny investment.
          I am not sure how many of them genuinely willing to carry the flag and wave it. Some of them are forced to believe if they are seen in public with horrible flag it could help enhance their asylum case. Hence good income for the Asylum Lawyers.

          I am told it is an insurance policy to protect LTTE agents who accumulated unlimited unaccounted massive wealth, by keeping Tiger Nationalism alive.
          Therefore the question of accountability does not arise.

          There is also a tiny minority whose families have suffered in the hands of the armed forces during the war. There is nothing for them to rally around, only the flag is left for them console or identify with.

          I haven’t met or seen any Tamil who has b***s to review the past 40 years including the politics, war, destruction, investment in war, leadership, their bull s**t, treachery, anti intellectualism, human rights violation, denying all kind of freedom, forced recruitment of Child soldiers, and the final balance sheet as of today.

          Do you think waving LTTE flag would help them realise a FREE TAMIL EELAM?
          And also would waving Sinhala Lion (Singha Le) flag and Gota’s repeated assurances that this is Sinhala/Buddhist country feed, clothe, care for the people?

  • 21
    0

    A family of crooks

  • 15
    0

    What a dastardly and blatant attempt to bail out a criminal cousin. The SC decision gives us hope. But the antics of the AG’s office is very disturbing and now under some scrutiny.

    A group of SJB MPs on Tuesday (02) requested the Attorney General under the Right to Information Act (RTI) to obtain information on the cases withdrawn by the AG’s Office since the current regime came to power. Accordingly, it was revealed that about 20 cases filed by the AG’s Office involving politicians, business figures and government officials of the present government were withdrawn since November 16, 2020.
    https://www.lankanewsweb.net/67-general-news/96256-sjb-calls-for-information-on-cases-dropped-by-ag

  • 1
    0

    This verdict gives us hope, although Mahila has expressed the fears of many.
    .
    However, let us keep our thoughts uncluttered by such phobias. Please see how Ven. Kekirawa Sudassana Thero, analyses the current situation in 18 minutes:
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0E1BzGVmR-c
    .
    He traces there the history of relations among the communities from the 1930s until today. I’ve made one comment, there’s nothing else, because all the comments, 627, as of now, are going into the last 12 minutes of the video which was posted a day earlier. That is, this video of 12 minutes, is identical except that it omitted the first six minutes and starts with what has happened since 2018 with then President Sirisena appointing Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister.
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLC7IAvI7R0
    .
    I suggest that irrespective of what languages you understand, you click there. The monk speaks in Sinhalese but many comments submitted by Muslims praise what has been said in clear English, and will indicate what all rational humans feel at this time.
    .
    These are the sentiments that are widespread at this time, and would have given courage to the Supreme Court to act boldly.
    .
    Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela, aka, “Sinhala_Man”

  • 4
    0

    Who would have thought that 1956 would lead to this kind of crap family holding the country in their dirty hands !

    1956 legitimized stupidity.

  • 2
    0

    GR is promoting one law, one country myth but it seems not applicable to his family & cronies, if GR himself, is meddling with the judicial process or influencing judges. Unless the US extradites Wickramasuriya to stand trial, the scumbag will be laughing away in SL. The US should cancel his citizenship, as well as, his family’s, & freeze any assets because these punks are protected in SL.

    None of the despicable bunch who have plundered the country’s wealth will ever stand trial, even with a regime change, because, at the end of the day, all the politicians are in the game.

  • 2
    0

    Who ever involved with Raja family they all have cases after cases and even the monk too

  • 4
    0

    ”In his diplomatic note to the US Embassy on Jayasundera’s instructions, Aryasinha claimed the decision to waive immunity for Wickremesuriya was made without the approval of then President Maithripala Sirisena. His note to the Embassy of the United States in Colombo added that there were no records at the Foreign Ministry or the Presidential Secretariat to the effect that the decision to waive immunity had been made by President Sirisena”

    I am wondering, if I negotiate a deal which later turns out sour, can my superior claim that the CEO has not approved it, therefore, void? In this case, a communique was issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, therefore, the Minister is responsible for its content. Even to come out with such a lame excuse, indicates the irresponsibility, ignorance & incompetence of our foreign services, What does it say about us internationally? A bunch of jokers who should not be taken seriously?

  • 2
    0

    Nepotism stinks in Rajapaksa land. They appointed unqualified village louts to represent us in other nations, and they have failed, and resorted to criminal activity which has brought us shame.
    Whatever happened to qualified career diplomats, who were a far better breed of Sri Lankans, who represented us with some respect and dignity?
    This is nepotism for you, ugly, and embarrassing, and the protection of family members, who have been found guilty of crimes, which should have made that criminal a pariah and embarrassment. But no, here we go again Nandasena kissing criminal butt and trying to pardon them for future employment in the regime. This lot disgusts me.

  • 2
    0

    Probably a gimmick to show the world that the SC is independent of politics.

  • 9
    0

    Sri Lanka is always viewed with utmost contempt by especially developed and mature countries due to the inherent duplicity, deceit and fraudulence that accompanies Sri Lankan behaviour in matters with other countries. They view Sri Lankans with great suspicion, even when they pass through immigration or customs in foreign airports due to this ignominious reputation. Sri Lankans living in developed countries often try to steal benefits, privileges and work out schemes that enable them to betray the inherent trusting nature of people in mature societies. When the Sri Lankan state mechanisms also echo these deceitful tendencies, it is no wonder that the foreign authorities view with critical harshness and extreme suspicion, any overtures made even with full state patronage. Shame! Where can people of Sri Lankan origin hide when their motherland causes so much shame and embarrassment?

  • 1
    0

    It is happy to note that justice still prevails in Sri Lanka and political crooks should accept the fact, nobody can bend the law to favour their king-pins.

  • 0
    0

    It would be a childish explanation that Royal have let alone the Supreme Court, so it is taking an honest decision here. The Jalia’s case is a massive indication of the Royal King’s new tactics in decision making. There are two ways the foreign VIPs get immunity on a foreign soil. One is by Geneva convention, a foreign diplomat; the other is foreign dignitaries like Royals. These two groups have no fear of being arrested in foreign soil. Dignitaries are created by the local government. This is how Karuna went to Britain. But that was a very weak one, so he was deported. Playboy Minister Son Prince could not go to America under the Chaitanya government. But diplomatic immunity is stronger one, but the status must be accepted by both countries. America waited for Julia to lose his ambassador position. Ranil refused to appoint a new one when America’s approval for a Lankawe old ambassador for Jalia expired. Jalia was hanging there and taking care of King’s tea promotion. Lankawe sent a new Ambassador after Ranil gave up on his hold. That officially took Jalia from his status. Lankawe first argued that Jalia’s fraud was during his ambassador position so that he was immunized. America did not buy that. Then suddenly Ranil reappointed him to something else. But America did not recognize that appointment.

  • 0
    0

    Jalia did not return home because the Supreme Court was looking for him on something else. As for America, Julia hanging in America did not establish that he was continuing as ambassador for ever. After all, Julia was arrested on a transit flight in Texas. Hitler King no longer thinks that saving Jalia in America can save King in his case in America. So the Lankawe Supreme Court let Jalia down. This may indicate that the King may be cooperating with America. But it does not indicate Julia would turn out to be a traitor of Hitler King. The problem is the King seeing the 13 Amendment as it gives legal power to all provinces. Yet Aanduwa has a problem of dodging on the 13A forever. Suppose they give the police power only to Western Province. There are 1,000 and 1000 people in Colombo are waiting there to have Royals arrested for a 100s of cases. So the 13A is not creating problems from the North East, but from all 9 provinces. So the Hitler King is thinking holding the 13A is not full immunity for them in Lankawe or in foreign countries. That is why the Supreme Court peacefully handed over Jalia to America.

  • 2
    0

    “….In a stunning verdict, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka last week dismissed an appeal….”

    Ha…haa…in a stunning verdict, eh?? You are badly mistaken then because Sri Lankan Supreme court under Rajapaksa dynasty never gives any ‘stunning’ verdicts against their family members. What must have happened here is the US must have warned the Rajapaksa gang that DPL status of Wickramasuriya should not be restored because they want to prosecute him anyhow under their law. Being obedient citizens, ex-citizens and now their obedient servants, Rajapaksa gang must have agreed that they will not get involved in the matter. That is what has happened obviously and don’t expect anything clean from our judiciary for anything filed against Rajapaksas and their henchmen unless USA or China wish otherwise!.

  • 1
    0

    The reference, “The shock determination was delivered by Justice Vijitha Malalgoda, even after a team of high-profile criminal lawyers repeatedly reminded the Bench hearing the case that the orders to restore Wickremasuriya’s (JW) diplomatic immunity and help him to escape criminal prosecution in the US came from no less than President Gotabaya Rajapaksa himself.”
    This remark, whoever the ‘HIGH PROFILECRIMINAL LAWYERS’ (HPCL), involved are shameless.
    If the learned Judge had held with the pleadings of the HPCL, the result would have been electrifying, not because of the veracity and impeccable stature of JW nor of the HPCL making the pleading, but of the President’s Shadow!
    Then, JW need not pay any legal fees for the HPCL!
    The sordid courtroom drama exemplifies, impression on SL Judiciary, proves doubt on credibility, independence of SL Judiciary already raised by International community by UNHRC and West!!
    No further submissions would be required to tarnish SL image.
    Pathetic.
    President Gotabaya should file damages claim in the courts, to ensure that his reputation is untarnished and prove his non-involvement
    If not, people-at-large would conclude reasonably of Nepotism too!
    When you have friends/advisors such as these, they cause more harm all-round, to make you fall!!
    QED.

  • 4
    0

    Hilarious as usual, from Lankan special edition “Low and Order”. AG says he will file confidential report, for releasing Karranagoda from all heinous crimes. I guess there is no reasons to file and hence it’s confidential. The opposite party says without knowing the reason how can they appeal ??? CEB Chairman says the agreement with U.S firm NFE cannot be disclosed because that too is confidential. Lanka is truly mystical where everything is confidential, unknown and mystery except for sky rocketing essential items / fuel hike .

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