Fonseka ready to face local court on allegations

Democratic Party founder and former army Commander Sarath Fonseka on Saturday, offered himself to face a domestic court of law on allegations against military operations during the Eelam War.In an interview with The Hindu, Fonseka, who was conferred by the present regime with the highest military rank of Field Marshal, said “if there are allegations against military operations, I am ready to face anybody and present the right picture. There is no problem. My conscience is clear.” While he was for taking the help of foreign expertise in legal matters, Fonseka said “being transparent [in the entire process] is better for our credibility.” (Colombo Gazette) Fonseka, who headed the SLA between December 2005 and July 2009, also wanted those who were his colleagues in the Army to cooperate with the authorities concerned. He was responding to a query whether he was willing to face an inquiry in the wake of the publication of a report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL). He said that if credible evidence was available, investigation should be done; due process of law be followed and those found guilty be punished.“If we are sincere, let us follow the proper legal procedures. We do not have to cover up [anything] or hush up.” At the same time, he brushed aside the finding made by the OISL that “incidents of sexual violence were not isolated acts but part of a deliberate policy.” Fonseka asserted that “these things never happen in an organised manner with the knowledge of superiors.” He maintained that “it is not part of our thinking or tactics to do such things.”The former Army Commander recalled that when the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was here in Sri Lanka between July 1987 and March 1990, there were “enough complaints [against it].” He added that a section of those who went through detention during the Eelam War must have indulged in “propaganda” against the Army.Nevertheless, he did not reject all the findings made by the UN report. He favoured a domestic investigation mechanism. To support this point, he also referred to the death sentence awarded by the High Court of Colombo in June to a soldier of the SLA in connection with a murder of eight internally-displaced Tamils in Northern Province in December 2000. read more

Tailgate Talent Show finale on Saturday

The Tailgate Talent Show is wrapping up its final episode in Simcoe on Saturday.The talent search travelled to Simcoe, Aylmer, Goderich, Port Elgin and Sudbury throughout the summer. The auditions included acts such as original music pieces, comedy sets, and dances. Judges selected two acts from each community to head to the finale to compete for $1,000 and studio recording time or video production to help with their acts.The finale is being held at the Simcoe Legion on Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door.Simcoe’s two acts are comedian Nara Farrell and pianist Alesio D’Agostino. The finale performance can be a maximum of 90 seconds.Farrell, a singer and entertainer, decided to use her funny bone during her audition.“It was so much fun,” she said. “I do funny voices, and I wrote a script pretending it was a radio show mystery. I did five different voices for it.”Farrell said she wants to get into voiceover work so she decided to do her character voices.“I had no idea if that was the right thing to do because I didn’t know what people would be doing, but I just loved doing it,” she said. “I thought I’d be cheeky and do the voices instead.”Farrell has been preparing a script with more voices for her finale performance.“I live in my imagination all the time and I enjoy other voices more than my own.”D’Agostino, a Grade 9 student at Holy Trinity Catholic High School, auditioned with a section of Presto Agitato, the third movement of Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven, and will be playing Clair De Lune by Claude Debussy at the finale.“I wanted to show off my talent and show people how great I am,” D’Agostino said about why he chose to audition for the show.He has only been playing piano for about a 1 1/2 years and already has taken his Grade 6 piano exam. He is now studying for his Grade 10 exam.Alesio’s mother, Karen, who is also his piano teacher, said the piece for finale has to be cut to meet the 90-second time requirement.“The piece is quite long,” she said, adding that some “gentle emotional parts” are missing.She expressed pride in her son.“He has big goals and incredible talent.”The event is being hosted by comedian Kyle Bergstresser. Local musician Felicia McMinn and TV actor and musician Kolton Stewart are judges.Tailgate Talent Show will air on Eastlink Community TV Channel 610 this fall. It has been filmed in partnership with Rainey read more