Despite of serious allegations levelled against the Sri Lanka Army (SLA), last week they have once again granted a promotion to a suspect involved with the murder of the Founding Editor of The Sunday Leader Lasantha Wickrematunge.
Highly reliable inside sources of SLA, who wished to remain anonymous, told this newspaper how the Commander of the SLA had granted a promotion to Brigadier Anura Wanniarachchi to the rank of Major General on Thursday, October 20 without considering that Wanniarachchi is accused of concealing evidence from Wickrematunge’s investigations.
Although it is the practice of the management of any institution, leave alone SLA, to go through the past records of their employees before being promoted to a higher rank, astonishing revelations show as to how the Sri Lanka Army, that should maintain the standards of a military institution, has always granted promotions and other perks to the military intelligence unit members who are accused of involvement in Wickrematunge and Prageeth Eknaligoda murders.
“Wanniarachchi is accused of concealing evidence on the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge and is now being questioned regularly by the CID. Despite the allegations levelled against Wanniarachchi, Commander of SLA, Chrishantha de Silva granted a promotion even without getting the CID clearance which is a bad precedent to the once respected Sri Lanka Army,” sources said.
Wanniarachchi was the former Director, Military Intelligence at the time of the arrest of intelligence unit members Kandegedara Piyawansa and seventeen others for Wickrematunge’s death. He was last questioned on Friday, October 14 by the CID into the murder and is the second military intelligence member in the accused list into Wickrematunge’s murder, to get a promotion.
“The first to receive a promotion while in the remand prison was Kandegedara Piyawansa, a member of the military intelligence unit. In addition. Piyawansa was paid his salary and allowances he was not entitled to continuously. When this was highlighted in the media, the present Army Commander Chrishantha de Silva went on to say that it was a ‘mistake’ of the army. Having accepted that granting a promotion and other perks to an officer accused of a crime was a mistake, what made the Commander to promote Brigadier Wanniarachchi to the rank of Major General. Will he on a later date say that it too was a mistake? Was it done on the request of the present Director, Military Intelligence Unit to show their ‘gratitude’ to the members of the intelligence unit,” army sources queried.
Meanwhile reliable defence sources said as to how the Army Commander too is concealing important details into Wickrematunge’s investigation and added that in the event this situation continues, the CID will have no other options but to get the Attorney General’s opinion and serve indictments even to the Army Commander which would be an embarrassment to him.
“From the time Chrishantha de Silva took over office of the Commander of Sri Lanka Army, he was not supporting the investigations into political murders. As the Commander he has to direct the officers concerned to provide details the investigators want into the killings of former MP Raviraj, Prageeth Eknaligoda and Lasantha Wickrematunge.
Since the military intelligence is accused of their direct involvement into these three murders, does Chrishantha de Silva want to cover it up by not providing the CID the much needed vital details or does the Commander act on what the Director, Military Intelligence says to him,” sources claimed.
Meanwhile SLA sources accused the intelligence unit officers for tapping the telephones of Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayake and carrying tales to President Maithripala Sirisena to encourage him to take Sri Lanka Police under his purview.
“The recent speech made by the President, which raised eyebrows of most of those who voted to bring him to office, was a result of a conspiracy of the military intelligence unit. It is a well know secret as to how the intelligence unit chief, after tapping Minister Ratnayake’s telephone conversations, had informed the President that Minister Ratnayake was in touch with the former President and his brother, the former Defence Secretary. Minister Ratnayake had been in touch with the two Rajapaksas not to pass any inside information of this government or to split the SLFP but to avert any undue clash over the legal action taken against the Rajapaksa family members. Before contacting the Rajapaksas, Minister Ratnayake had always informed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe about what he was going to discuss with the Rajapaksa duo. However, in order to be in good books with the President, the intelligence unit chief had scared the President that Law and Order Minister is having secret discussions with the Rajapaksas and is trying to split the party, which prompted the President to say that he will not hesitate to take over the police under his purview,” sources added. The sources further said as to how President Sirisena confronted with Minister Ratnayake over these issues and added how the President kept silent when the Minister asked him whether it was the military intelligence unit that gave him the dead rope.
“Minister Ratnayake told the President what he discussed with the Rajapaksas and that benefits the President but not the UNP. If the Minister did not speak to the Rajapaksas to douse the anger in them against the President, it would have been a benefit to the UNP and a disaster to the SLFP. When Minister Ratnayake informed this to the President, he understood what had happened. By misleading the President, the intelligence unit chief has allegedly wanted President Sirisena to take over the police, which would be helpful to him (intelligence chief) to stop the CID from investigating into the murder of Wickrematunge and Eknaligoda,” sources added.
Meanwhile, the sources further queried as to why President Sirisena has allowed the Director of the Military Intelligence Suresh Sallay to continue in the post for so long as he is trying to create a crisis between the President and the Prime Minister.
“Unless these top officials are transferred and honest and reliable officer appointed to the post, the present intelligence officers are making every attempt to jeopardize Wickrematunge and Eknaligoda murder investigations. Directorate of the Military Intelligence Unit is a powerful position and has direct access to tap telephones of whom they want, be it official or personal.
The intelligence unit has been allocated Rs. 150 million intelligence budget which is neither audited nor invoiced. The Directorate has the full powers to spend this money and it is this money that is being used to pay for the lawyers who appear for intelligence unit members in Raviraj, Eknaligoda and Wickrematunge murders. The Intelligence Unit hires the most expensive counsels to appear on behalf of their members.
During the war there was a necessity for such a budgetary allocation but when the country is not waging a war, there is no necessity for such an allocation,” sources pointed out.
According to the sources, when Eknaligoda case is taken up, it is the intelligence unit vehicles that transport the family members of those who are in prison to the court house. “It came to light how the military intelligence members pasted posters on the walls threatening the state prosecutor who appeared for Eknaligoda with death,” sources said.
Meanwhile, after this newspaper exposed last week in its lead story how the Kegalle police failed to call the Scene of Crime Officers (SOCO) to the crime scene where Warrant Officer (l) Illandarige Jayamanne’s body was found, to take finger prints and forensic evidence, it was later revealed how the Kegalle Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) had questioned the police why they did not call the SOCO to the crime scene.
Based on Kegalle JMO Dr. Ramesh Alagiyawanna’s concern on the police failure to obtain finger prints of the dead and the SOCO’s absence at the crime scene, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), on the permission of the court, got Jayamanne’s body exhumed three days after the burial – Wednesday, October 19. It is learnt that the CID had obtained Jayamanne’s finger prints the same evening and the body is to be brought to Colombo to conduct a fresh post mortem on the directives of the Colombo Chief JMO Prof. Ajith Tennakoon supported by Dr. Jean Perera of the Faculty of Medicine Colombo and JMO Kegalle Dr. Ramesh Alagiyawanna to find out whether the deceased was poisoned before he was hung up.
Meanwhile, highly reliable sources from Jayamann’e neighbourhood, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Sunday Leader as to how those who were present at the scene were surprised how the Kegalle police responded positively to the JMO when he asked whether the SOCO was informed of the crime.
“Before the body was taken down, the JMO asked the Kegalle Crime Police as to whether the SOCO was informed of the crime and whether the police coming to the scene to which one of the police officers said that they have already informed them.
Having said that, this police officer also said that there is no necessity for the SOCO’s presence there as even if they come, they will take the dead person’s finger prints, which is available with the military intelligence unit. How does this police officer know whether Jayamanne’s finger prints are with the Sri Lanka Army (SLA)? Isn’t it the police’s duty to call the SOCO and get all the evidence for an investigation as the deceased is said to have left a note claiming responsibility for the killing of a famous journalist,” sources said.
It is also questionable as to what made the military intelligence unit members to restrict the family members of the late Illandarage Jayamanne from talking to the media during the latter’s funeral.
Fifty-one-year-old retired Warrant Officer I, Illandarage Jayamanne is alleged to have taken his life claiming it was he who killed Wickrematunge making a request to release Malinda Udalagama who is currently in remand prison for the murder.
When The Sunday Leader visited Jayamanne’s residence on Sunday and wanted to talk to the wife who had returned to the country the previous night, Jayamanne’s elder brother Rtd. Colonel Chandrasena prevented this reporter from talking to the wife claiming that she was unconscious. When made a request to allow speaking to the two elder sons, Chandrasena once again prevented the two sons from making any comment nor allowed to take a photograph of the deceased.
The military intelligence unit members who were present at the funeral house in numbers were seen carefully monitoring those who attended the funeral, specially the media personnel.
A close family member of the deceased, on condition of anonymity, told this newspaper as to how the military intelligence unit was monitoring the funeral house and how they have ordered the family members not to talk to the media.
“My cousin rendered his service to the military intelligence unit during his prime days but what made the intelligence unit members to ask the family not to give any statements to the media? It was up to the children and wife of my cousin to decide whether to talk to the media or not, but not the intelligence unit members.
To all the relatives of Jayammane, it is an issue as to why the military intelligence unit behave in such a manner and we believe that they knew that the children would tell that their father was not involved in any murder as such as claimed in his last letter,” the cousin said. Meanwhile it is now revealed as to why Jayamanne wrote Premananda Udalagama’s name as Malinda Udalagama which was earlier considered to be a mistake. According to SLA sources, Udalagama has also been called as Malinda when he was serving at the intelligence unit.
Meanwhile, defence sources said as to how certain call details of Jyamanne’s phone had been erased. “When the phone records and the telephone detailed bill were compared, some numbers were missing in the phone which had led the CID to investigate the matter.
They will not only trace on the numbers Jayamanne had dialed but what he has received as well. Further details into SMS will also be traced to get a breakthrough,” sources added.
Jayamanne’s suicide note too has raised suspicion, and had been sent to the Government Analyst to refer to the Questioned Document Examiner to check the handwriting was that of Jayamanne.
“What made Jayamanne to safeguard Udalagama without even considering his children’s future? It is up to the CID to find out beyond any doubt whether the military intelligence members blackmailed the wife and sons of Jayamanne to stop them from talking to the media,” sources said.
According to the sources Jayamanne had visited Badulla, Hanguranketha and Ampara from October 11 and 12 and accused the SLA once again for not giving any details on whether Jayamanne had visited army camps in those areas.
“The investigators have asked for some details from the SLA, but they are not supporting the CID.
Since a fresh post mortem is to be conducted it could help to find out whether it’s a homicide before he was hung or a suicide. There is also a doubt with regard to the suicide note. The note was neatly folded and there were no marks to say that it was tucked to his waist before his death. Being an addict to cannabis, it is said that he had smoked cannabis the night before he took his life,” sources added.
Meanwhile, questions have been raised as to where the black inked pen Jayamanne is said to have used to write his last note and whether the investigators were able to trace for the note book from which he had taken off the paper to write the letter.
Jayamanne’s death is believed to be the fourth casualty committed by the armed forces to mislead the ongoing investigations. First it was Pichchei Jesudasan from Nuwara Eliya who died mysteriously whilst in remand prison and secondly, two Tamil youth from Vavuniya, who had been shot dead by the armed forces to take the motor bicycle on which they were travelling.
This bicycle was later found in the Attidiya lake to mislead the masses to implicate LTTEs involvement with the murder. Once the fresh post mortem report on Jayamanne is released, the investigators can say whether Jayamanne’s death was a homicide or a murder.
Meanwhile The Sunday Leader learns that the Colombo JMO is expected to release Wickrematunge’s second autopsy report by November 1.