Pre-poll violations on the rise in Sri Lanka

Updated 03 January 2015
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Pre-poll violations on the rise in Sri Lanka

With a few days remaining for Sri Lanka’s presidential polls, election violations have increased in the past seven days across the Indian Ocean island state.
According to the People’s Action for Free and Fair Election (PAFFRE), an independent election monitoring group, it received 612 complaints related to violations of election laws. PAFFRE’s Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi said 85 percent of the complaints came with substantial evidence. Members of both the ruling alliance and the common opposition front were flouting election laws, he added.
The Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) issued another report saying its media unit received 1,029 complaints till Friday. CaFFE’s media unit said 105 of the complaints were of election related violence while the 924 others were about election law violations.
The group has given full details of the violence and violations raising questions as to whether the campaign is free and fair or whether the people’s right to make an informed choice is being spin-doctored by sophisticated bribery or corruption and marred by violence or threats of violence.
The widely held belief that people are losing confidence in the independence of the police service is perhaps reflected in the number of complaints made to it. Even a deputy minister was arrested for alleged election violence.
Police Media Spokesman Ajith Rohana said the police received 214 complaints till Friday. He said 92 people were arrested on charges of flouting election laws but released on bail.
With the election campaign getting heated up daily, more crossovers are expected in the next 72 hours from the main contesting parties.
The opposition said several heavyweights of the ruling party, who hold cabinet portfolios, have agreed to join the Common Opposition before Monday. They are expected to show up at the final election rally of the Common candidate Maithripala Sirisena, which will take place on Monday.


El Chapo trial witness: Ex-Mexico security chief was bribed

Assistant United States Attorney Gina Parlovecchio questions witness Jesus Zambada (L), the brother of Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada who was Guzman's alleged partner in running the Sinaloa Cartel, with photos showing hierarchy of cartel, during the trial of the accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman (R), as defense attorney A. (REUTERS)
Updated 22 min 9 sec ago
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El Chapo trial witness: Ex-Mexico security chief was bribed

  • Garcia Luna was once seen as a powerful ally in the American effort to thwart Mexican cartels from flooding the US market with cocaine and other illegal drugs. But he had also previously come under suspicion of taking bribes

NEW YORK: Mexico’s former top security chief and another law enforcement official who once worked under the country’s new president-elect took millions of dollars in bribes from the notorious Sinaloa drug cartel in the mid-2000s, a witness testified Tuesday at the US trial of kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
Former cartel member Jesus Zambada made the allegations Tuesday while testifying about what he described as widespread corruption among authorities who were paid to keep their hands off the lucrative and violent drug operation.
During cross-examination, Zambada claimed he personally made at least $6 million in hidden payments to the former federal security chief, Genaro Garcia Luna, on behalf of his older brother, cartel boss Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada. The cash was delivered during two meetings at a restaurant in Mexico between the start of 2005 and the end of 2007, he said.
Cartel leaders had agreed that they would pool up to $50 million to buy the protection of Garcia Luna, Jesus Zambada added when being asked about previous statements first made after he was flipped by US authorities.
The witness also said a separate bribe of “a few million dollars” was made in 2005 to Gabriel Regino, who worked in the administration of current President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador when he was mayor of Mexico City.
In a letter published in Mexican media, Garcia Luna responded, “I repeat that it is false, defamatory and perjury to say that I have ever received any material goods from any person, police officer or criminal group.”
Regino, now a private lawyer and law professor, wrote on Twitter, “I categorically deny these accusations.”
Jurors in federal court in Brooklyn also heard testimony on Tuesday from US agents about how they intercepted cocaine-stashed jalapeno cans and more than $1 million in drug proceeds hidden in the paneling of a Ford Bronco used by Guzman’s brother. The trial is off the rest of the week and is to resume Monday.
Guzman, perhaps best known for escaping from Mexican prisons, has pleaded not guilty to drug-trafficking charges. If convicted, he faces life in prison.
His lawyers, saying he was either in prison or in hiding when prosecutors allege he oversaw a cartel that sent tons of cocaine into the US, have sought to portray Ismael Zambada as the actual boss. The elder Zambada remains on the loose in Mexico, they claim, because of bribes that “go up to the very top,” including hundreds of millions of dollars paid to the current and former presidents of Mexico.
US District Judge Brian Cogan admonished the defense for making that claim, saying there was no evidence. He also turned back efforts by the defense to question Zambada about it.
Garcia Luna was once seen as a powerful ally in the American effort to thwart Mexican cartels from flooding the US market with cocaine and other illegal drugs. But he had also previously come under suspicion of taking bribes.