The chief suspect in Lasantha Wickrematunga’s assassination was given a diplomatic post by the then defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa but it was withdrawn soon after Mahinda Rajapaksa won the January 2010 election, fresh evidence has revealed, according to the Economy News website.
Rajapaksa has denied any involvement in the January 2009 assassination of SundayLeader editor Wickrematunga and a string of other attacks against dissident journalists, but new evidence shows he nominated the main suspect as an intelligence officer at the Sri Lanka embassy in Thailand.
The then powerful defence secretary has denied allegations by his army commander and erstwhile friend Sarath Fonseka that he led a killer squad comprising handpicked army commandos attached to a secret killer gang.
Rajapaksa has countered the allegation saying that if there were any secret killer squads involving army personnel, Fonseka as the then commander should take responsibility.
Fonseka in his testimony to the police has said security and intelligence operations in Colombo were carried out by Rajapaksa and national Intelligence Chief Kapila Hendawithrana, who is also accused of leading a killer squad, according to a report filed in the Mount Lavinia courts last month.
However, the latest evidence showed that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa nominated army intelligence operative major Bandara Bulathwatte as an “intelligence officer” with the rank of second secretary at the Sri Lankan embassy in Bangkok, just a week before the January 2010 presidential elections.
President Rajapaksa was challenged at the polls by his army chief Fonseka who ended up in jail after a controversial court martial and high court proceedings against him.
In a hastily prepared letter, Rajapaksa asked the Foreign Secretary to appoint Bulathwatte as an intelligence officer after recalling another officer holding the rank of second secretary in Bangkok. It was done in such haste, even a bio data of Bulathwatte was not attached, although it was requirement for him to get his visa and have the appointment regularised by the foreign ministry.
This letter dated January 18, 2010 was issued in Rajapaksa’s name and it was authenticated as genuine by the then additional secretary to the defence ministry, Ravi Arunthavanathan.
The appointment of major Bulathwatte was made in the heat of a bruising presidential election campaign. Bulathwatte’s bio data was obtained from army commander Jagath Jayasuriya.
Transfer of public servants cannot be carried out when an election has been called unless with the concurrence of the Elections Commissioner or under urgent national security considerations, but such a requirement was not mentioned in appointing Bulathwatte to Thailand a week before the polls.
However, after President Mahinda Rajapaksa was re-elected and Fonseka was arrested, defence secretary Rajapaksa changes his mind and tells the Foreign Secretary to defer Bulathwatte’s posting due to national security considerations.
“Request please to make necessary arrangements to postpone the scheduled departure of the above officer (Major B.W.D.M.R.P.S.S.B.D Bulathwatte) until further notice as his presence in Colombo is of importance with regard to matters pertaining to national security,” said the then chief of National Intelligence Kapila Hendawitharana in a letter to the Foreign Secretary. This letter is sent on February 25, almost a month after the election is won by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Exactly two weeks after asking the Foreign secretary to hold Bulathwatte’s appointment, Hendawitharana gives the go ahead to send Bulathwatte to Thailand. Hendawitharana then makes a U-turn five days later asking the foreign secretary to further postpone the appointment.
This time, the reason for the postponement is: “The presence of the officer is urgently required for a very important matter pertaining to the national security.”
Technical evidence and telephone records have placed Bulathwatte at the location where Lasantha was killed as well as in the places where other journalists were attacked. His six-member gang is now in remand custody and several of them have been identified by those who survived attacks.
The vehicle used in some of the attacks as well as Lasantha’s killing has been recovered from the home of a woman linked to Bulathwatte, who is now in remand custody.
Soon after the former defence secretary’s name was mentioned in a court document last month, he denied any involvement and left the island and is said to be in Singapore following a study course.
The former military intelligence chief, Hendawitharana, has already been questioned by police in connection with Lasantha’s killing, but investigators said several other officers are due to be questioned and high profile arrests are imminent.
Two other suspects in the attacks against Lasantha and several others, Warrant Officers R. L. Rajapaksha and I. P. A. Udalagama, had been given clerical jobs at the Sri Lankan embassy in Germany.
Signs of Elusive Gota going to gallows in Lasantha murder..! Company that sold mobile phones trailed-Full B report…
This damning evidence was based on the revelations made by two witnesses including former army commander Sarath Fonseka . According to this evidence , during the most corrupt and lawless decade when journalists including Lasantha were attacked and murdered under Kapila Gamini Hendavitharne the chief of National Intelligence who was operating jointly with Gotabaya Rajapakse , there was another group , about which even the officer of the forces who was in charge of Colombo operations was unaware.
Information regarding the instruments the murderers wielded , and from which Company the mobile phones used in Lasantha’s murder were purchased were revealed in court on the 20 th , based on details disclosed in the second post mortem report of Lasantha. The name of the Co. is Soft logic which was very closely associated with Gotabaya and became notorious on account of amassing wealth at jet speed under the lawless nefarious regime.
(Lanka-e-News – 22.March.2017, 11.30PM) Cogent evidence which could send elusive ex defense secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse to gallows was revealed in court on the 20 th in connection with the ruthless murder of former Sunday Leader newspaper editor LasanthaWickremetunge based on additional submissions made by the CID to the Mt. Lavinia court on that day.
The B report forwarded to court by the CID which gave details is being produced in toto herein for the benefit of the public.
Case No. B 92/09
To Mt. Lavinia magistrate court
In connection with the B report submitted on 2015-03-17 and all the other additional reports forwarded simultaneously , as well as the final report dated 2017-01-16 relating to the murder of Lasantha Wickremetunge …
02) Following further investigations into this crime the statements of the individuals named hereunder were recorded .Based on those statements …..
1. Gardihewa Sarath Chandralal Fonseka (ex Army Commander) – No. 461 / 08 , Pubudhu place , Welipara , Thalawatugoda.
During the time when the crime was committed , he had not probed into the security affairs , and in Colombo that was under the purview of defense secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse and National intelligence chief Kapila Gamini Hendavitharne at that time . He received a lot of information that there was a group operating under Hendavitharne . But he was not aware , while he was the army commander that Hendavitharne had established a Tripoli army intelligence para military team when he was in Tripoli.
02. Ajith Manohara Perera (Retired major General )- 66 , Sri Dhammadisi Mawatha , Asgiriya , Kandy.
He said , during the period when this crime occurred , he was the commanding officer for Colombo operations , and he knew nothing in connection with the crime. Besides , he did not carry out any investigation , and no orders were received from the high ups of the headquarters to inquire into it.
03. In accordance with the court directive issued on the last court date – 2017-01-16 , the court productions were handed over to the government’s examiner of questioned documents under H 744 /2016 on 2017-02-13 , and the relevant memo was forwarded to the honorable court.
04. The report of the chief judicial medical officer Ajith Tennekoon the medical specialist has been received relating to the post mortem examination conducted again after exhuming the body of Late Wickremetunge ,following the order issued by court. We also inform court that this murder has been committed with the use of a powerful instrument and the victim has been attacked more than three times based on the decision of the three member medical board .
05. We inform that the reports of the examiner of questioned documents and CERT Institution to which the court productions were forwarded have not yet been received.
06. The murderers have used SIM cards , and four of the five phones used were those imported by Softlogic communication Pvt. Ltd. , located at De Fonseka Road , Colombo 05 , and sold via three of its branches , it has come to light. Investigations are under way to ascertain who had purchased these four mobile phones ?
07. We therefore request the honorable court to grant us time until the next court date to submit the progress report pertaining to the investigations into the information and the telephone call exchanges unearthed so far.
Signed Investigation officer and OIC
Special Investigation division
Criminal Investigation department.
Mt .Lavinia magistrate Mohomed Nihar following the submission of the B report postponed the case until the 19 th of June