Bus driver and conductor sentenced to death for reckless driving in Sri Lanka

The Yangalmodara railway crossing accident in April 2005 cost 40 lives

The driver and conductor of a bus were sentenced to death by the Kurunegala High Court in Sri Lanka on Friday April 5, for their role in the accident at the Yangalmodara railway crossing which claimed lives of 40 people, ‘Ada Derana’ reported.

At a railway level crossing at Yangalmodara, Alawwa in the Sabaragamuwa province, a bus-train collision occurred on April 25, 2005, killing 40 passengers and injuring over 35, in one of the most tragic accidents in Sri Lanka’s history.

The driver and conductor of the bus were charged in the court on 152 counts by attorney-general and High Court Judge Priyantha Fernando ruled that the accident was due to reckless driving when the case was taken up on Friday, and sentenced the driver and the conductor to death.

The Colombo-bound private bus, plying from Galkiriyagama, collided with an intercity express train running from Colombo to Kandy and the bus was pulled by the train for nearly 75 metres before bursting into flames in which 35 passengers reportedly died on the spot.

4 Sri Lankans caught for kidnapping businessman

Four Sri Lankans has been caught by a special team of city police in Chennai in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu for kidnapping an Australia-based Sri Lankan businessman when he came to Chennai, the ‘Daily Mirror’ reported on Friday April 5.

He had cheated them of Rs 25 million allegedly promising the Sri Lankan men jobs in Canada and other countries.

The suspects identified by the police were Jain Moulana (40) of Selaiyur, Mohamed Basmi (37) of Mannady, and Dhuvan Kabir (37) and Mohammed Ramjan (23) of Vengambakkam.

The detainee Packiarajah Ponnukone, who operated a manpower agency in Sri Lanka, had collected Rs25 million from 17 Sri Lankan nationals after promising to relocate them to developed countries, with his aide Nazar while hiring Moulana and Kabir as agents.

Ponnukone and Nazar had fled with the money, handed over by the agents, after giving fake documents to the 17 persons who approached the agents for refund when the men were arrested by the Sri Lankan authorities for carrying fake papers.

The agents Moulana and Kabir, who fled to India and settled in Selaiyur, conspired with Ramjan and Basmi to kidnap Ponnukone and retrieve the money, and a fake invitation to attend a business meet was sent to Ponnukone who fell in the trap and arrived in Chennai from Australia on March 9.

The four men abducted him upon landing in the city and detained him in Selaiyur, but later he was released on March 13, after they failed to get any money from him except for a 17-sovereign gold chain.

Meanwhile, family members of Ponnukone approached Police Commissioner S. George through Sri Lankan authorities in Chennai. Police deployed a special team which conducted a probe and managed to find Ponnukone.

Ponnukone flew back to Australia a free man after few days while the police team arrested the four abductors on Wednesday and seized faked documents from them. They were remanded to police custody and sent to Puzhal prison.

Sending workers to Cyprus to be halted

Sri Lanka’s Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion Dilan Perera said that due to the economic crisis in Cyprus, the government has decided to suspend sending employees to that country, ‘Asian Mirror’ reported on Friday April 5.

Perera said the Lankan government will take appropriate action if expatriates in Cyrus request to be flown home.

Around 25,000 Sri Lankans are working in Cyprus according to the statistics at the country’s embassy in Rome. Lankan migrant workers are the second largest group of foreign workers in Cyprus, the embassy said.

Many are employed in hotels, restaurants, construction, agriculture and manufacturing while most of the Lankan women are employed as domestic help.


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