by Nirmala Kannangara
With the revelations that the finger prints taken from the retired Warrant Officer (1) Illandarige Jayamanne, who is said to have hung himself in Kegalle on October 14, not tallying with the finger prints obtained from the vehicle in which the Founding Editor of The Sunday Leader Lasantha Wickrematunge was travelling at the time of his murder, questions have now been raised as to on whose advice Jayamanne left a note taking the responsibility to Wickrematunge’s assassination.
According to the latest findings, Jayamanne was at Pinnawala for three days with his wife and son during Wickrematunge’s murder although he claimed that it was he who murdered the latter and made a request to release his Military Intelligence Unit colleague Malinda Udalagama.
“The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has now obtained the fingerprint reports that do not match with each other, which means Jayamanna was not involved in the murder and that he was in Pinnawala at the time of Wickrematunge’s death. In such a backdrop, the CID has to investigate as to why Jayamanne wanted to mislead the investigators and on whose advice it was done. All eyes are now focused on the three member JMO team headed by the Colombo Chief JMO Prof. Ajith Tennakoon, Dr. Jean Perera of the Faculty of Medicine Colombo and Kegalle JMO Dr. Ramesh Alagiyawanna to find out whether Jayamanne’s death was a suicide or a homicide,” highly reliable defence sources said.
Meanwhile questions are being raised whether President Maithripala Sirisena’s outrageous speech made on October 12 paved the way for the three Military Intelligence Unit members, who are said to have a hand in the murder of the Founding Editor of The Sunday Leader Lasantha Wickrematunge and in the abduction of Senior Journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda, to get bail.
In a dramatic turn of events, military intelligence officer Premananda Udalagama, who was in remand prison in Wickrematunge’s murder case, was granted bail on Thursday, October 27 by the Mt. Lavinia Magistrate despite the Criminal Investigation Department’s (CID) appeal to further remand the suspect as he could tamper evidence into the investigation. Earlier on October 13, the day after the President’s shocking speech, Udalagama was granted bail by the Gampaha Magistrate in the assault case on journalist Upali Tennakoon and his wife.
Meanwhile two military intelligence unit members in the Eknaligoda abduction case, Lt. Col. Shammi Arjuna and Sergeant Major Priyantha Kumara too were granted bail by the Avissawella High Court Judge on October 24.
According to a legal luminary, who wished to remain anonymous, the counsels appearing for the three military intelligence unit suspects, although made all their efforts to get bail to their clients, it was not fruitful as the CID and the Attorney General’s Department unfolded the suspects connection with the crimes one after another. However, after President Maithripala Sirisena’s speech, where law enforcement authorities came under severe criticism for keeping the ‘heroic war heroes’ behind bars on criminal charges, all three military intelligence unit members were granted bail by the respective Magistrates.
“President Sirisena’s speech made the counsels easy in their cases as the President has done the work for them. It is surprising as to how the President who did not even once came forward to encourage the CID in their respective investigations, came forward to defend the military intelligence members, the former Defence Secretary and three Navy Commanders calling them ‘heroic soldiers’ who saved the country. Does that mean the law enforcement authorities should not take any action against the security forces personnel even if they murder people because they fought at the war or is this restriction only to safeguard the military intelligence unit members on the request of the military intelligence unit chief?” sources alleged.
According to the sources, the pledges the politicians give on political stages are forgotten easily and added how the President assured that he will not interfere with any investigation once he becomes the President.
“President Sirisena has completely forgotten the pledge he has given to the people before the presidential election. He said that whoever who were involved in crimes, corruption or frauds should be brought to book without considering their status or affiliations. He also gave an assurance that he will not interfere with the judiciary nor with any investigations.
Having said that, within less than two years since assuming office, President Sirisena like his predecessor had slowly started to interfere with all investigations where former defence authority officials and members of the Military Intelligence Unit are accused in their involvement in frauds and crimes,” sources said.
Meanwhile a reliable high ranking police officer who wished to remain anonymous said as to how the note book of Lasantha Wickrematunge was removed from the Mt. Lavinia SSP’s office on January 16, 2009 by none other than the then DIG Mirihana Division, Prasanna Nanayakkara after a telephone conversation with the then IGP Jayantha Wickremaratne.
“After Wickrematunge’s murder, the note book which is now missing and few files and some documents were taken into custody from Wickrematunge’s car bearing registration number KC 1098 by the Mt. Lavinia police. It was SI Weerasinghe that handed over these documents to the Mt. Lavinia police as the car had been taken to the Government Analyst Department for further investigations,” the sources said.
According to the sources, Sub Inspactor Tissa Sugathapala of the Mt. Lavinia police should be hailed for using his brains to copy the motor bicycle registration numbers which were in Wickrematunge’s note book, to his personal note book. “Later I understood why SI Sugathapala copied the motor bicycle registration numbers in his personal note book, as he had known what the ‘fate’ of Wickrematunge’s note book would be. If not for SI Sugathapala’s timely action, there wouldn’t be any trace to the motor bicycle registration numbers and no trace to any party involved in the murder,” sources added.
The sources further said as to how certain pages of the Production Registry had gone missing where the detailed report of what police received from the scene of crime were written. “When Wickrematunge’s files and note books were brought to the Mt. Lavinia police all the received items were well recorded in the production registry which has all the details. But later, it was found out how one page in the production registry (PR) had been removed where Wickrematunge’s note book details were written and was replaced with a different paper. When the PR was handed over to the relevant officer, it is learnt that Sugathapala had made an endorsement on page 154/09 where the details of the goods received from the scene of crime was written. In the replaced page, it was learnt that SI Sugathapala’s signature was missing,” sources said.
Meanwhile the sources further said as to how Sugathapala had received a call from DIG Nanayakkara on or around January 15, 2009 to come to the Mirihana Police and how the then SSP Hemantha Adikari instructed Sugathapala to bring Wickrematunge’s note book to the DIG’s office. “SSP Adikari later left the note book at the DIG’s Mirihana office. However the following day, DIG Nanayakkara brought the notebook back to SSP’s Mt. Lavinia office and wanted Sugathapala to bring the Incident Book (IB) and the PR for his perusal. “When these two books were handed over to DIG Nanayakkara and seeing how meticulously all details into the recovered items were documented in the PR and all details into the incident and who the officers that went to the scene of crime and to the hospital were written in the IB, Nanayakkara wanted Sugathapala to leave the SSP’s office. It was after this incident Nanayakkara took a call to the IGP, should be to keep him informed,” sources added.
The DIG had then removed Wickrematunge’s note book from the Mt. Lavinia police claiming that the IGP wanted to bring the book to him for his perusal. “That was the last time the police officers saw Wickrematunge’s much important note book,” sources claimed.
Meanwhile a source briefing on the matter further said how DIG Nanayakkara when questioned by the investigators said that he did not remove the note book from the SSP’s office but wanted Sugathapala to take a print out of the page where motor bicycle registration numbers were written. “When the former DIG was questioned, he had told the investigators that he handed over Wickrematunge’s note book back to Sugathapala wanting him to keep it under safe custody. He also had stated as to how he instructed Inspector Amarabandu to send police messages to all police stations giving the motor bicycle registration numbers for a quick breakthrough. If police messages were sent to all police stations, the island wide police stations should have the written messages. When the investigators have checked with some of the police stations whether they have any records to show that such a police message was received, most of the busy stations had said that they do not keep these record books for many years. However when checked with the small police stations in remote areas in the country, where they had even 2006 record books, there wasn’t any such message broadcasted through police headquarters. This shows how Nanayakkara wanted to mislead the investigators,” sources claimed.
The sources further stated as to how DIG Nanayakkara did not show any interest to conduct s proper investigation into Wickrematunge’s death.
Meanwhile speaking on the motor bicycle numbers used for the murder, the police sources said how, on the information received from SSP Mt. Lavinia, a police team went to the Attidiya Lake on January 27, 2009 where a blue colour Honda motor bike was found in the lake with the registration number WP MO 9634. “Since it was revealed that the number plate was bogus, from the chassis number the police team had got the number traced to find out who the owner was. It was then revealed it was owned by Parama Siwam Thayaraj of No: 61, shivan Kovil Road, Konika, Vavuniya. It had later been given to Vishvakumar of No: 132, Bazar Street, Vavuniya who was one of the victims that was killed by the forces to take the motor bicycle on which he and his friend were travelling,” sources added.
As reported earlier, these two Tamil persons were travelling on their motor bicycle towards Settikulam when a Defender Jeep had stopped them in a remote area in Vavuniya, blind folded them and taken away in the Defender Jeep while the motor bicycle too was taken away by the same group towards Settikulam on Sunday, January 18.
The investigators meanwhile had received information as to how two unidentified charred bodies were found at Gambirisgaswewa north of Anuradhapura on January 19, 2009 and upon further investigation with the help of the then JMO Anuradhapuara, the relatives of the two Tamil youths had recognized the dead from the pictures obtained from the JMO. Meanwhile it is learnt that the two autopsy reports issued by the Consultant Judicial Medical Officer, General Hospital Anuradhapura, Dr. Ajith Jayasena on the two charred bodies found at Gambirisgaswewa, north of Anuradhapura on January 19, 2009, says that the death was due to firearm injuries to the heads. The autopsy reports further states, ‘The deceased had sustained single discharge from a rifle firearm to the head and the entry was located on the back of the head. Disfigured bullets had been recovered within the heads at the autopsy. The bodies were charred and post mortem artefacts due to burns were present. All identification features were photographed. Assistance of two Forensic Odontologists were taken for the estimation of approximate odontological age and to detect odontological features for identification. The skulls were retained for the purpose of the identification if a third party claims for the bodies and to retrieve DNA samples’.