Evidence unfolding before courts on Lasantha’s Murder
- The DIG had instructed Sugathapala to remove the pages of the GCIB where he had entered the notes
- When Sugathapala showed his disapproval, DIG Nanayakkara had warned Sugathapala and revealed that he was following a directive
- DIG Nanayakkara told him that the IGP had wanted to destroy the evidence leading to Wickrematunge’s murder
- Nanayakkara had further asked Sugathapala whether he would like to be killed if the IGP’s orders are not implemented
- According to Adikari, he and Sugathapala had become helpless and the pages of the GCIB had been removed
- Meanwhile the first suspect in Wickrematunge murder case, military intelligence officer Premananada Udalagama, who is on bail for abducting
Wickrematunge’s driverone of the witnesses in the murder case- had been later posted to the Sri Lankan Embassy in Germany by the then Defence Ministry officials
- Udalagama was given a separate apartment in Germany and all his food and lodging was paid for by the Government of Sri Lanka
- The ‘B’ report further reveals how two Tamil youths had been stopped in Vavuniya by those who came in a jeep and taken away. Their blue coloured
motorcycle had been taken away by some of them who were involved in the abduction
- The CID had received information regarding two unidentified charred bodies found from Gambirisgaswewa, north of Anuradhapura on January
19, 2009- the day after the abduction had taken place
The unfolding evidence the Criminal Investigation Department is now gathering reveals how the former Head of Sri Lanka Police is alleged to have had in his possession the most vital evidence which was destroyed to thwart the investigations conducted into the brutal murder of former Editor of The Sunday Leader Lasantha Wickrematunge.
Despite destroying the vital evidence to botch the investigations allegedly carried out on the directives of the then Inspector General of Police (IGP), the timely action reportedly taken secretly by the former Crime OIC Mt. Lavinia SI, Tissasiri Sugathapala to photocopy and preserve the evidence has helped the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to obtain concrete proof into who was behind The Sunday Leader Editor’s assassination.
Meanwhile the CID told the court that there was no necessity for the former Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) of the Colombo South Teaching Hospital Kalubowila, Dr. K. Sunil Kumara to issue a misleading autopsy report claiming that the cause of death was due to cranio cerebral injuries following a discharge of a firearm unless pressure was mounted on him to release the report to hoodwink the investigators.
Upon receiving the information from Balraj’s wife, a CID team in 2016 had made inquiries from all police stations in and around Vavuniya to obtain details of the missing Tamil youths
Although Dr. Kumara’spostmortem report says as such, Prof. Mohan Silva, who performed the emergency operation on Lasantha Wickrematunge soon after he was brought to the hospital, says in the report that there was no trace of gunshot injuries.
So was the Government Analyst’s finding as well. Colombo Chief JMO Dr. Ajith Tennakoon, who headed a three member JMO team, too confirmed in his autopsy report of 2017 that the death was caused as a result of multiple stab injuries to the deceased’s skull.
Meanwhile the ‘B’ report submitted to court by the CID states how the details of the telephone conversation which features former Kalubowila JMO shows that he was in touch with the third suspect, DIG Prasanna Nanayakkara, to conceal evidence of the Wickrematunge murder. According to the details of the call, the DIG had been constantly in touch with Dr. K. Kumara from the time Wickrematunge was pronounced death and also after the CID began the investigation, following the fall of the Rajapaksa regime.
The Supreme Court in February issued an interim Order preventing the arrest of former IGP Jayantha Wickramaratne, who was the Head of Sri Lanka Police at the time the murder took place, until a final determination is made in connection with the Fundamental Rights petition filed by Wickramaratne to prevent his imminent arrest.
Lasantha Manilal Wickrematunge was murdered on January 8, 2009 in Attidiya in the high security zone in close proximity to the Ratmalana Airforce Base. According to the respective ‘B’ Report submitted to court by the CID, from the time the attack took place, the Sri Lanka Police had allegedly adopted methods to conceal evidence. However, former OIC Crime Mt. Lavinia had taken photocopies of Wickrematunge’s notebook and other vital documents before handing over the originals to the DIG Western Province (South) which had helped the CID to conduct further investigations.
According to the statements made by the former SSP Mt. Lavinia Adikari Appuhamilage Hemantha Harischandra Appuhamy alias Hemantha Adikari and the then OIC Crimes SI, Tissasiri Sugathapala (second suspect), it was on the directives of the then IGP Jayantha Wickramaratne through DIG Mirihana, Vitharana Arachchige Sirimevan Prasanna Nanayakkara (third suspect), that evidence had been concealed or destroyed to botch the investigation.
Sugathapala had further stated how he got Vishwakala Printers at Pirivena Road, Mt. Lavinia to bind the GCIB in question, inserting new pages in place of the removed ones
Wickrematunge, was a vocal critic of abuse of power and corruption of the former regime and was subjected to intimidation on several occasions before he was killed in 2009 in broad daylight. The Sunday Leader newspaper was once sealed and it was also subject to continuous bomb attacks during which the attackers targeted their Ratmalana press. These attacks were carried out to stop Wickrematunge from exposing nepotism, corruption and abuse of power in the country. It was not a secret that The Sunday Leader under Wickrematunge posed the biggest threat for the Rajapaksa regime. Wickrematunge did not leave any stone unturned to expose corruption and fraud that took place in the Rajapaksa administration one after another with substantial proofs.
Not even three weeks after slaying Wickrematunge, the then Defence Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella at a media briefing, held on January 28, 2009, said that the Government was aware of the identities of Wickrematunge’s killers and President Mahinda Rajapaksa was anticipating to uncover ‘some very important details’ by February 15, 2009. However, these ‘very important details’ never came to light although Wickrematunge’s widow Sonali Samarasinghe Wickrematungerepeatedly made written requests to Rajapaksa and the then IGP to get an impartial investigation carried out to arrest the murderers and those who had given orders to assassinate her husband.
AN ORDER FROM THE TOP
Be that as it may, in his statement to the CID, Hemantha Adikari states as to how he instructed Crime OIC Mt. Lavinia, SI Sugathapala to conduct investigations on to the two motorcycle registration numbers which Wickrematunge had penned down on his notebook moments before he was killed. The Crime OIC had been quick enough to obtain the details of the owners of the two motor bicycles from the Department of Registration of Motor Vehicles (RMV).
Adikari further states how DIG Nanayakkara reacted when the latter was informed of the new findings- details pertaining to the two registration numbers. Nanyakkarahad instructed Adikari to come to his Mirihana office immediately with the Crime OIC together with Wickrematunge’s notebook and the police Grave Crime Information Book (GCIB) where the entries had been made by SI Sugathapala regarding the two registration numbers and the information regarding the owners of the said two motorcycles.
The former SSP has further revealed how the DIG wanted SI Sugathapala to read out the note he (Sugathapala) had made in the GCIB and what Wickrematunge had written on the cover page of his note book. The DIG had then instructed Sugathapalato remove the pages of the GCIB where he had entered the notes, to which the latter had shown his disapproval. It was at that point that DIG Nanayakkara had warned Sugathapala and revealed that he was following a directive given by IGP Jayantha Wickramaratne. Nanayakkara had further asked Sugathapala whether he would like to be killed if the IGP’s orders are not implemented.
According to what the CID informed court, when Udalagama was under arrest, the former Chief of National Intelligence at the Ministry of Defence, Kapila Hendawithana, had once made a request to the then Foreign Ministry to purchase three tickets for Udalagama’s wife and two children to visit Germany
According to Adikari, he and Sugathapala had become helpless and the pages of the GCIB had been removed and handed over to Nanayakkara together with the victims notebook knowing well that the order had come from the top.
Adikari has further stated how DIG Nanayakkara told him that the IGP had wanted to destroy the evidence leading to Wickrematunge’s murder and Sugathapala was asked not to conduct any investigation into the two motorcycle registration numbers Wickrematunge had noted down.
Furthermore, Adikari in his statement to the CID had stated that although Nanayakkara had informed him of the information received by the IGP on January 26, on the motorcycle believed to be used by Wickrematunge’s assailants, it was later revealed that the police team headed by Sugathapala had looked out for professional drivers on the day before the IGP is said to have received the information.
Upon the recovery of the motorcycle on January 27, 2009 the Mt. Lavinia Police had been able to trace its owner, Paravasivam Thiyagarajah from Vavuniya. A police team led by IP Lalith Weerasinghe has been dispatched to bring Thiyagarajah for questioning.
‘Weerasinghe informed me that although the legal owner is Thiyagarajah, it had been sold to Balraj Ram Prakash in 2008. When this was reported to the DIG, instructions were given to arrest Thiyagarajah, obtain a detention order and bring him to Colombo for questioning. Although the DIG instructed to stop conducting further investigation into the registration numbers Wickrematunge had noted down, trying to question a Tamil over a motorcycle found in Attidiya canal was an attempt to implicate that the LTTE was behind the murder,’ Adikari states in his proclamation .
Meanwhile, former Crime OIC Mt. Lavinia SI, Tissasiri Sugathapala in his statement to the CID states that he had to remove four pages from the GCIB and handed them over to the DIG together with Wickrematunge’s notebook on January 16, 2009. He had further stated as to how he got the pages of the GCIB and Wickrematunge’snotebook photocopied and kept them safely for future reference before handing over the originals to DIG Nanayakkara.
Sugathapala had further stated how he got Vishwakala Printers at Pirivena Road, Mt. Lavinia to bind the GCIB in question, inserting new pages in place of the removed ones. Giving a statement, Senaka Ralalage Premasiri Samarawardane (PC 50345) had told the CID how two officers from the Presidential Security Division (PSD) had visited Attidiya in civil when the search operation was in progress to recover the motorcycle. He had further stated how he had accompanied Sugathapala to NalakaBook Industries at Borupana Road, Ratmalana to find a notebook similar to that of Wickrematunge’s. In the statement, he has stated how he overheard Sugathapalasaying over the phone that the two motorcycles used in the ambush had been the properties of the Sri Lanka Army.
The CID has also obtained statements from Athugal Pendige Priyantha Kumara(PC 63764), Henaka Ralalage Premasiri Samarawardhana (PC 50345), Dilanimangalika Gunawardena (WPC 2949), IP Lalith Weerasinghe, Welikalage Chandana Pushpa Kumara (Civil Defence Force) Bandula Seneviratne (PC 70423), SI Jayantha Adikaram, Kapila Janaka Kumara Rajapaksa (Sergeant 13578), Susantha Kumari Welagedara (WPC 2941) and Aruna Janaka Kumara de Alwis (PC 63794) who were attached to the Crimes Division Mt. Lavinia Police at the time of the murder. They have confirmed how few pages of the questionable GCIB had been removed and handed over them to DIG Nanayakkara together with Wickremathunge’s note book. They have also stated that although the victim’s notebook was handed over to the Crime OIC on January 16, it had not been returned to date.
According to the ‘B’ Reports, the motorcycle had been stolen in Vavuniya on January 18 by blindfolding and abducting Balraj Ram Prakash and Kumarasingham Vishnukumar whist they were travelling to Settikulam.
The ‘B’ report further reveals how these two Tamil youths had been stopped in Vavuniya by those who came in a jeep and taken away. Their blue coloured motorcycle had been taken away by some of them who were involved in the abduction.
Upon receiving the information from Balraj’s wife, a CID team in 2016 had made inquiries from all police stations in and around Vavuniya to obtain details of the missing Tamil youths. The CID had received information regarding two unidentified charred bodies found from Gambirisgaswewa, north of Anuradhapura on January 19, 2009- the day after the abduction had taken place.
At the investigation, it had come to light that Dr. Ajith Jayasekera JMO Anuradhapura, who performed the postmortem on the two charred bodies, had found out that the two had died due to gunshot injuries caused to the back of their heads whilst their hands were tied.
On October 10, 2016, the CID got the relatives of these two Tamil youths to identify the dead using the pictures of the charred bodies. The family members had identified the two deceased as their relatives. The ‘B’ report reveals that it is now confirmed that there was a military involvement in the murder and they wanted to connect the matter with the LTTE after killing the two Tamils and bringing the motorcycle they were riding on to Attidiya.
Meanwhile the first suspect in Wickrematunge murder case, military intelligence officer Premananada Udalagama, who is on bail for abducting Wickrematunge’sdriver- one of the witnesses in the murder case- had been later posted to the Sri Lankan Embassy in Germany by the then Defence Ministry officials.
Meanwhile, former Crime OIC Mt. Lavinia SI, Tissasiri Sugathapala in his statement to the CID states that he had to remove four pages from the GCIB and handed them over to the DIG together with Wickrematunge’s notebook
Udalagama, who was in charge of former MP Karuna Amman’s security at the time of his alleged involvement in abducting a witness, had been posted to Germany temporarily by creating a new post to provide security to a certain official by the then Defence Ministry officials. Although this particular official returned after his assignment overseas, Udalagama had remained in Germany for another two years.
According to what the CID informed court, when Udalagama was under arrest, the former Chief of National Intelligence at the Ministry of Defence, Kapila Hendawithana, had once made a request to the then Foreign Ministry to purchase three tickets for Udalagama’s wife and two children to visit Germany which request was declined by the Foreign Ministry. However under extraordinary circumstance, on the directives of a top official, the Foreign Ministry had purchased the air tickets for Udalagama’s family since Udalagama’s children were at home for the school vacation. It was revealed that Udalagama was given a separate apartment in Germany and all his food and lodging was paid for by the Government of Sri Lanka.
The CID meanwhile had obtained permission of the court to record a statement from former DIG Prasanna Nanayakkara and a further statement by former Crime OIC Tissasiri Sugathapala while they were in remand prison. The two are to be produced in Mt. Lavinia Magistrate Court on March 29.