Interference from top into Lasantha murder investigation

lasanthaInvestigations into the murder of ‘The Sunday Leader’ editor Lasantha Wickrematunge are reportedly facing such a situation that they cannot proceed, due to the pressure being exerted on the CID from top government figures. Investigations so far have revealed that a team of 17 soldiers of Tripoli Army camp in Colombo had carried out the murder. They had left to carry out the murder from their camp.

 Therefore, getting a court order, the CID has obtained a list of the 270 members of the said camp during the two days immediately prior to Wickrematunge’s killing. All of them were to be questioned, in batches of 20 at a time. The CID has summoned 20 of them on October 26 for questioning. Another 20 were to be summoned on the following day, but defence secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi has told the CID that president Maithripala Sirisena had ordered that the soldiers be not summoned for questioning.

The president has objected to their being questioned on the basis that that could lead to a breakdown of their morale. At two recent functions, he has made public statements against ‘war heroes’ from being taken to courts.

Halt to investigations
Disrupting the questioning of the 270 soldiers has made it difficult to identify the 17 men responsible for Wickrematunga’s murder, and investigations cannot proceed without identifying them.

Wickrematunge’s remains were exhumed seven years after his murder, on 27 October 2016, for further investigation, and such interference has come in the way of enforcing the law against the killers.

Morale and supremacy of the law

Soon after assuming duties as the president, Maithripala Sirisena said that he would have ‘ended up six feet underground’, had he lost the presidential election. What he should understand is that, had he been defeated, it would not have been Mahinda Rajapaksa or Gotabhaya Rajapaksa who would have come to send him six feet underground, but the so-called ‘soldiers with morale’. As the president, he should at least act to ensure that the supremacy of the law reigns over all, irrespective of whether anyone had gone to war or not, or anyone is a war hero or not.