“CHARGE GOTA!” Says Nambuwasam CoI On Welikada Massacre

“CHARGE GOTA!” Says Nambuwasam CoI On Welikada Massacre

By Ruwan Laknath Jayakody, Kavindya Chris Thomas and Kavindya Perera –

CoI into the 2012 Welikada Prison Incident/Nambuwasam Committee on Welikada riots/massacre

Recommends charging Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Chandra Wakishta, Indika Sampath, Kodippili, Shantha Dissanayake

The prosecution of six high ranking officials previously attached to the Ministry of Defence, the State Intelligence Service, the Prisons Department and the Sixth Gajaba Regiment of the Army in relation to the Welikada Prisons incident of November 2012, has been recommended by a Committee of Inquiry which probed into the matter. 

The Committee of Inquiry into the Prison Incident Welikada – 2012 (C.I.P.I) has recommended charging former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, former Head/Director of the State Intelligence Services and the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police (SDIG) Chandra Nimal Wakishta, former Jailor and Officer-In-Charge (OIC) of the Prisons Intelligence Unit Indika Sampath, former Commissioner General of Prisons P.W. Kodippili, then Brigadier of the Army Shantha Dissanayake and former Superintendent of the Magazine Prison and an incumbent Commissioner of Prisons (Rehabilitation) (covering up duties) Emil Ranjan Lamahewage under Section 162 of the Penal Code, which deals with public officers who disobey the directions of the law with the intent of causing injury to persons or the Government. 

The C.I.P.I thus recommended charging the relevant aforementioned Public Servants (Rajapaksa, Wakishta, Sampath, Kodippili, Dissanayake and Lamahewage) under Section 162 of the Penal Code, whereby public servants by way of their conduct disobeys the directions of the law in a manner which intends or knowingly causes injury to a person or the Government. Conviction for the charge carries a term of simple imprisonment for a maximum of one year and/or a fine. Also, the C.I.P.I noted that the aforementioned Officers owed a duty of care to the victims and that they were ideally positioned to foresee the catastrophic consequences of their acts of commission and omission.

Lamahewage, the latter who along with Inspector of Police (IP) Neomal Rangajeewa (attached to the Police Narcotics Bureau) is presently in remand custody, is also on compulsory leave from the Department of Prisons and his post of the Commissioner of Prisons (Rehabilitation) (covering up duties). Sampath is presently considered as having vacated his post and is believed to be overseas. According to the Ministry of Prison Reforms an investigation into his whereabouts is currently underway as he has vacated his position without prior notice to his superiors.

The Welikada Prisons Incident 

The Welikada Prisons incident on 9 and 10 November, 2012, a melee alternately described as a riot by the State and the Government, and a massacre by eyewitnesses, claimed the lives of 27 prisoners. 

The C.I.P.I

The C.I.P.I was appointed on 22 January, 2015, by former Minister of Justice, President’s Counsel Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and comprised of retired High Court Judge Wimal Nambuwasam, former SDIG Asoka Wijetilleka and retired Additional Secretary S.K. Liyanage. The prosecution was by Senior State Counsel Janaka Bandara. 

This is the second official inquiry that was called on the matter. The first inquiry was carried out in 2012 by a three Member Committee appointed by the then Minister of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms Chandrasiri Gajadeera, and Chaired by retired High Court Judge Bandula Atapattu.

While the C.I.P.I summoned former and present Officials of the Department of Prisons; the Police (including from the Colombo Crimes Division {CCD}, the Financial Crimes Division, the Administration, the Criminal Investigation Department {CID}, the TID and the former Inspector General of Police {IGP} N.K. Illangakoon); the Special Task Force (STF) of the Police, which during this period however, was not under the purview of the IGP but directly controlled in terms of administrative and supervision by the Ministry of Defence; the Army; former Chief of National Intelligence Wakishta; Rajapaksa; the ex-Officials of the Ministry of Defence; the then Secretary of the Ministry of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms Ariyasiri Dissanayake; the Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Employment G.S. Vithanage; the next of kin of the deceased; the injured inmates; and the inmates detained on the day of the incident. Gajadeera had according to the C.I.P.I deliberately avoided appearing before it.   

The C.I.P.I also heard and sought constructive opinions on evidence, from Consultant Judicial Medical Officers (JMO) who conducted the postmortems of the deceased; Scenes of Crime Officers (SOCO) of the Police (from Colombo South and Central) who examined the scene of the incident; the then Government Analyst (GA) and Deputies and Assistants of the GA’s Department who conducted forensic and ballistic examinations; and Fingerprint Experts of the Criminal Record Division of the Police. 

The final report was presented in June, 2015. 

The C.I.P.I’s Observations And Recommendations On The Findings 

Necessity For The Conduct Of A Search 

The C.I.P.I has noted that a high level of external influence, interference and pressure had been brought to bear on the need for a search by the STF on 9 November, 2012 and observed that the instructions to deploy the STF to conduct the search inside the Welikada Prisons on 9 November, 2012, was made on a directive by Rajapaksa through the Ministry of Defence.

According to the C.I.P.I’s report, Ariyasiri Dissanayake strongly confirmed the latter position. Ariyasiri Dissanayake has further claimed that though there was no immediate requirement to conduct a search of the magnitude by the STF, it was due to pressure from Rajapaksa that they had to accede to his request. Rajapaksa has not only vehemently denied that the authority to make the required arrangements in order for the STF to be used for the search had come from him, but has also decried Dissanayake’s claim as being false. 

In section of the report, it is pointed out that, “It also transpired that the emergency of this necessity was not due to its essentiality by the Department of Prisons but due to the necessity generated at the Defence Ministry level, during an Intelligence Review Meeting held on 17 July, 2012, to which Ariyasiri Dissanayake, Kodippili and many others of the Prisons hierarchy including Superintendents of Prisons were participants.“ The report highlights that evidence had been placed before the C.I.P.I by certain high ranking Prisons Staff that the use of external agencies in the conduct of affairs within Prisons had undermined and weakened the authority and administrative control of the Prisons Officials.  

There are two versions. Rajapaksa, former SDIG – Western Province Anura Senanayake and Wakishta held that a search operation was justified as according to them the illegal activities within the Welikada Prisons posed a threat to national security. The claim was unsupported with documentary evidence. Albeit to a lesser degree on the national security aspect, Kodippili and Sampath too held that the inmates’ activities had reached threatening proportions in terms of the maintenance of discipline. Then Superintendent of the Welikada Prisons J.A. Gamini Jayasinghe and Chief Jailor U.B. Walisundara spoke of the repeated finding of contraband despite regular, ad-hoc searches. 

On these grounds, the C.I.P.I therefore considered that the necessity to conduct a search to prevent the flow of unlawful activities could not be excluded totally. However, the magnitude of the search conducted was opposed by the C.I.P.I which pointed out that the sheer number of STF personnel deployed (798 armed) was in total variation from the original request made by Kodippili on 2 August, 2012, to the then IGP Illangakoon, requesting 300 STF personnel for a combined (Prisons Department and the STF) search of the L Ward and Chapel Building of the Colombo Remand, Magazine and Welikada Prisons on 7 August, 2012.

The C.I.P.I has thus taken Kodippili and Wakishta to task for totally miscalculating and misjudging the scale of the operation based on the exact needs of the search, adding unwaveringly that such was contrary to the legal statutory provisions and flying in the face of acceptability. In doing so, the C.I.P.I rejected the excuse given by Kodippili that the need for secrecy in the operation was high due to the presence of corrupt Prisons officers conniving with the prisoners.      

Legality Of The Entry Of The STF

Section 77 of the Prisons Ordinance and subsidiary legislations to the Ordinance (found in Sections 17 to 21) hold that carrying weapons when entering into a Prisons facility is a violation of the relevant applicable laws and therefore illegal. Moreover, on the use of weapons and force, Section 77(4) of the Ordinance permitted the use of weapons only as far as possible to disable a prisoner and “not to kill”. legislations to the Ordinance states that the entitlement to use weapons and force is in defence of oneself or others when lives and limbs are threatened, noting further that one must be cautious to “never use more force than is absolutely necessary”. The advisory regulation in Section 21 to be followed when firing at an escaping prisoner, “for the first shot to be fired wide off the mark, and if it is necessary to fire again by aiming low to avoid the infliction of a fatal injury” should be strictly adhered to. 

Rajapaksa, Ariyasiri Dissanayake, Vithanage, Anura Senanayake, Wakishta, Kodippili, Jayasinghe, Lamahewage and Sampath, the latter who played an active role in securing the entry of armed STF personnel into the Welikada Prisons complex on 9 November, 2012, had all admitted that carrying arms into a Prisons facility was illegal and prohibited. Illangakoon though stating that no Police or Army Officer could enter a Prisons facility with a weapon, however had explained that the responsibility should ultimately be borne by those who authorized the entry. However, it is a mandatory requirement for the STF to carry weapons when moving out for any duty or operation. The matter therefore remains unresolved except in that the principle of proportionality has not been followed.   

Another issue noted in section of the report is that a legal search warrant, a prerequisite under the Code of Criminal Procedure Act, No. 15 of 1979, had not been obtained for the entry of armed STF personnel. However, it is learned by the C.I.P.I that when Sampath had queried from Kodippili regarding the availability of a search warrant, the latter had replied yes, thereby deliberately misleading the former. Kodippili has however denied knowledge of the STF participation in the op to the C.I.P.I.   

The C.I.P.I’s conclusion was that the entry of STF personnel with weapons into the Welikada Prisons was a total violation of the law and thereby illegal.       

The Authorization Of The Deployment Of The STF

According to the Deputy Inspector General of Police of the STF, R.W.M. Chandrasiri Ranawana, Senanayake, Ariyasiri Dissanayake and Kodippili, the entire exercise in relation to the preparatory arrangement for the conduct of the search had been coordinated (along with the STF, Officials of the Ministry of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms, Kodippili and Sampath) by Wakishta who had attended the preparatory meetings held at the Ministry of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms premises in Borella which had mostly been chaired by then subject Minister Gajadeera. In section of the report, it is mentioned that Wakishta had also handled the advance preparation and planning aspects of the conduct of the search operation, sans a search warrant from a competent Court of Law 

Wakishta claims that he sought and received verbal approval from Illangakoon. When Illangakoon had received another letter requesting Police participation at a meeting held at the aforementioned Ministry, he had authorized Wakishta to attend and take necessary action, and since Wakishta had not reported back to him, he had then assumed that no further action was required on the part of the Police in this regard. 

Illangakoon had been in Italy on official duty on 9 November, 2012, and had upon returning on 10 November, 2012, had ordered the CID to conduct an investigation pertaining to the incident. 

He had presumed that the instructions and directions for the conduct of the search had come from the Ministry of Defence. Since Illangakoon’s version of events has been corroborated by Ranawana, the C.I.P.I has held that Wakishta had engaged in the deliberate misrepresentation of the facts, thereby finding his position far from the truth. 

Firing Of Tear Gas By The STF 

Section and d. of the report notes that it was Kodippili who authorized the conduct of the search and granted approval for the armed STF personnel to enter into the Welikada Prisons on 9 November, 2012 and that it was Sampath who in contravention of the provisions of the Prisons Ordinance had in spite of objections raised by Prison Staff facilitated their entry. When STF personnel were refused entry owing to the lack of prior notification or authorization from a superior officer of the Prisons facility, Sampath had intervened and persuaded the Prison Guards at the main entrance to the Welikada Prisons to secure their entry by stating that a search was to be performed with Kodippili’s approval. 

Inmates of the L Ward had fully cooperated with the search. It was when the A3 Ward in the Chapel Building was being searched that events took a different turn.  

Apart from the fact that the STF personnel firing tear gas shells into the Prisons complex unheeding the warnings (including to refrain from entering the Chapel Building) given by the Prisons Officials was uncalled for, on the allegations of acts of torture, the C.I.P.I has specifically in section of the report recommended that those involved in the indiscriminate firing of tear gas into the closed (padlocked) Prisons Wards of A3 and B3 in the Chapel Building, a wanton provocation which left the prisoners with no option but to defend themselves, be identified and that criminal proceedings be instituted under Sections 2 and 3 of the Convention Against Torture, and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Act, No. 22 of 1994. 

In section of the report, the C.I.P.I notes that the STF had displayed scant regard to the displeasure intimated (via jeering at the STF) by the prisoners to being searched by anyone other than the Prisons Staff. 

The STF while denying firing into the closed A3 and B3 Wards (confirmed however by Prisons Staff), admitted however to firing tear gas at the entrance to the Chapel Building which houses the A3, B3, C3 and D3 Wards, only for the purpose of securing their withdrawal. Wakishta citing notes by Assistant Superintendent of Police attached to the TID Prasanna Alwis, too made the latter claim, but no such corroboration was found in Alwis’s notes or in the latter’s evidence given before the C.I.P.I. 

Before the STF withdrew at the behest of Jayasinghe, inmates threw stones and other objects owing to tear gas being fired in various directions. 

The C.I.P.I held that the STF had overreacted, adding that the tense situation that was created and which prevailed was all their making. Owing to the spread of smoke, Magazine Prisons Officials were forced to bring out detainees into an open area within their complex to mitigate the effects of the lacrimosa smoke.        

The C.I.P.I defined the Welikada incident as a collective response by the prisoners to the “tumultuous disturbance of the peace” caused by the immediate prime cause of the “irresponsible” use of tear gas by the 798 strong STF, which acted as the triggering incident. There was a marked absence of an instigative element in the riot, the C.I.P.I further noted, adding that therefore the outbreak was “reactive” as opposed to “incitive”. 

Inmates Breaking Open The Armoury 

Subsequently, the inmates had forcibly broken into the unsuitably located mini armoury. It was also insufficiently secured. The GA’s Department confirmed that the main door was malfunctioning.   

Inmates Attempt To Escape By Three-Wheeler

Although it is prohibited to take private vehicles, in this case a three-wheeler owned by a Prisons Officer, into a Prisons facility, 11 inmates had tried to escape in the parked vehicle by taking two Type 56 rifles and firing at the STF. 

Army Intervention And ‘Rangajeewa’

Lieutenant Colonel of the Sixth Gajaba Regiment G.A. Thanuja Godewatte claims that he was informed by his Commanding Officer Shantha Dissanayake on 9 November, 2012, at 2 p.m. that his troops should take up position near the Campbell Park, Borella, adding also that they had entered the Welikada Prisons facility at midnight on the day. 

The C.I.P.I in section of the report observed that the pre-planned arrangement made in advance of 2 p.m. on 9 November, 2012, well ahead of the STF search, for the deployment of Army troops at a location close to the Prisons, and the planned decision of the Army to enter the Prisons towards 12 midnight on the same day, had been made by Shantha Dissanayake sans an official request by Kodippili or Senanayake. 

Major General Jagath Alwis stated that he arrived at the outer area of the main entrance to the Prisons at 7 p.m. after he was informed by the Director – Operations at the Army headquarters. The Police and the STF claimed ignorance of who had called the Army. The Army, the C.I.P.I noted had fired in all directions haphazardly.  

Acting IGP and SDIG (Administration) Gamini Navaratne who had monitored the initial situation which arose towards the evening of 9 November, 2012, and had given instructions to Senanayake to prevent the escape of prisoners, has claimed that he had only come to know of the Army’s intervention on early 10 November, 2012, through Senanayake. The C.I.P.I notes that Navaratne’s position is “elusive”.         

Inmates have meanwhile alleged that Rangajeewa had accompanied certain Army Officers during the wee hours of 10 November, 2012, and was attired in civvies, and also using a mobile phone. Rangajeewa had informed the C.I.P.I that on the day, he was engaged in surveillance related duties in Kohuwala and Bambalapitiya although the out entry indicates that he was proceeding to Chilaw. 

Presence Of Four T56 Weapons Near The Deceased Inmates 

In section of the report, there are allegations directly aimed at Lamahewage and Rangajeewa by several inmates and a few Prisons Officers, and allegations also against Kodippili to the effect that they were instrumental in removing four T56 weapons from the custody of Jailor P.L.W. Nanayakkara, a fact corroborated by few other Prisons Staff and supported by a document tendered by Nanayakkara and Army Sergeant of the Sixth Gajaba Regiment P.S. Tennakoon, and evidence given by Prisons Guard K.R. Wijerathne. It was Tennakoon who had initially handed over the four weapons to Nanayakkara’s custody. 

Sections, 5 and 6 of the report which deals with material evidence in the form of photographs taken on 10 November, 2012, by Official Prisons Photographer Jailor II Niraj Dushantha Gunawardene at 7.47 a.m. and Prison Guard S.A. Dinesh Madushanka on the same day between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. is further proof regarding the aspect of T56 assault rifles being introduced near dead inmates, indicative of the alleged complicity of Kodippili and Lamahewage. According to of the report, based on strong evidence disclosed by witnesses in relation to the actions of certain officials, it is noted that the unauthorized removal of four T56 automatics from the custody of Nanayakkara in the small hours of 10 November, 2012, which later surfaced near the bodies of certain dead inmates, was done by Kodippili and Lamahewage. 

According to evidence courtesy of Gunawardene from 10 November, 2012:- 

At 7.33 a.m. on 10 November, 2012, there was a long blade knife next to the body of inmate Malith Sameera Perera alias Konda Amila. 

At 7.35 a.m. on 10 November, 2012, there was a T56 (number 21533278) approximately 54 centimetres (cm) away from the body of Nirmala Atapattu with no empty casings found in the proximity of the weapon and a T56 (number 21558631) close to the body of Thushara Chandana alias Kalu Thushara with no empty casings found in the proximity of the weapon.

At around 7.47 a.m. there was no T56 weapon close to the bodies of P. Harsha Manjusri Manukeerthi Perera alias Nilame, Asarappulige/Asarapodige Jothipala alias Ponna Kapila, and Kankanage Malindra Nilendra Palpola alias Malan (photo numbers 8881-2) {A photograph courtesy of Madushanka taken prior to Gunawardene shows the absence of a weapon near their bodies at around 4 a.m. and 5 a.m.}.

At 9.33 a.m. on 10 November, 2012, there was a T56 (number 21532857) 78cm away from the body of Mohamed Wijeya Rohana alias Gundu Mama where empty casings were found.

A Magistrate is shown at 1.30 p.m. examining the scene where the body of Susantha was. 

And the photographs (numbers 9118-9) depict the scene visit of the Magistrate for the conduct of the inquest at around 1.44 p.m., where now a T56 is seen close to the bodies of Manjusri aka Nilame, Jothipala aka Ponna Kapila, and Palpola aka Malan. 

The C.I.P.I noted that this goes beyond reasonable doubt that the four T56s were a “subsequent introduction”. According to the C.I.P.I, the introduction of the weapons was to project the view that the inmates had used them, thereby justifying their execution. 

Selective Killings 

As per section of the report, since the evidence placed before the C.I.P.I discloses the alleged involvements of Rangajeewa and Lamahewage in the alleged selective killings, it is also recommended that this aspect of their complicity be gone into fully. Lamahewage’s alleged involvement, as per the eyewitness accounts of inmates, in the picking up of inmate Malith Sameera Perera aka Konda Amila, amongst many others, and making him kneel down (done by the Army) in front of the Welikada Prisons Superintendent’s Office in the wee hours of 10 November, 2012, morning, must be investigated. This is in the context of the deceased having previously lodged a complaint (confirmation of an alleged threat to life) with the Borella Police and the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka against Lamahewage. The C.I.P.I pointed towards a likely motive of revenge. 

Eyewitness accounts of inmates have mentioned the removal and picking up of or more precisely the selecting of Jothipala aka Ponna Kapila, Manjusri aka Nilame, Palpola aka Malan, Thushara Chandana aka Kalu Thushara, Mohamed Wijeya Rohana aka Gundu Mama, Atapattu, and Susantha for selective killing.

Forensic Analysis 

Post-mortem examinations conducted by the Colombo Chief JMO’s Office revealed that the causes of the deaths were due to injuries from rifle firearm related gunshots from a distance (of beyond three feet). 

A Consultant JMO Dr. Prasanna B. Dassanayake stated that a blackening wound on the body of Mohamed Wijeya Rohana aka Gundu Mama was suggestive of close range fire of six to 12 inches. 

When shown photographs taken by Prison Guard Madushanka and the Official SOCO Photographer of the scene where the bodies of Manjusri aka Nilame, Jothipala aka Ponna Kapila, and Palpola aka Malan were, which in the background showed marks portraying the flow of the blood stains and splatter, and the bullet marks on the wall, and asked for an opinion, Colombo Chief JMO Dr. Ajith Tennakoon opined that going by the distance of the blood stains on the wall from the ground, the height of the deceased seen on the right side of the photograph, and the gunshot injury to the upper torso, he was either seated or leaning against the foot of the wall. Adding further that, going by the position of the three bodies on the ground and the gap between the three blood stains on the wall, it could be confirmed that the three persons were close to each other at the time of the shooting. Further, the three blood stains show a downward trend of the flow of the blood stain. 

Elsewhere, swabs taken from the palms of 10 deceased inmates and forwarded by the Colombo Chief JMO’s Office to the GA, with the view of finding the presence of gun powder/spent smokeless powder residue, tested negative on all accounts, suggesting that the said dead inmates had not fired a firearm on the day. Previously, the SOCO teams that recovered and examined the T56 weapons had found no presence of gun powder odour. Officer-In-Charge (OIC) of the SOCO Colombo Central Sub-Inspector H.M. Sumanalatha had stated that a T56 (number 21534010) found from near the bodies of Manjusri aka Nilame, Jothipala aka Ponna Kapila, and Palpola aka Malan was not loaded (no magazine inserted into the weapon). 

Additional Fingerprints Registrar of the Crimes Records Division of the Police Chief Inspector Senaka Kaluarachchi who examined the said four T56 weapons and other weapons recovered from the Prisons compound, found no palm prints or fingerprints.   

The SOCO when further queried by the C.I.P.I, stated that it was reasonable to conclude that there had been an excessive use of firearms than necessary to control the situation and that based on the large number of empty casings recovered from outside the immediate environs of the Prisons complex, there had been extensive firing from outside towards the inside of the complex. 

On the subject of ballistics, it was the view of Deputy GA P.G. Madawela that the attack was one of high intensity, more commonly identified with an attempt to “counter a terrorist attack or capture an enemy camp”. This, as the C.I.P.I notes in section of the report, constitutes the unjustifiable and excessive use of firepower (according to Godewatte, 1,060 numbers of high calibre AK (7.62 x 34) ammunitions had been expended by his troops, a figure which is in addition to the firepower used by Army Colonel Liyanawadu on the night of 9 November, 2012) in this situation. 

Lapses In The Police Investigation

The C.I.P.I in section of the report noted that delays in the CCD and the CID taking charge of the weapons used by the STF including the tear gas related equipment, had resulted in the presence of firearm residues diminishing. It is also noted by the C.I.P.I that the said weapons had been subsequently cleaned and oiled by the relevant parties subsequent to firing. 

Police Medico-Legal reports of the injured could not be traced. 

Furthermore, the C.I.P.I states that the investigations were not comprehensive in that they did not cover aspects pertaining to the necessity of the conduct of the search, the STF’s actions, the use of firepower and the motive if any for the killing of selected inmates. 

“The lack of a proactive investigative approach and the absence of fundamental investigative steps makes one suspect whether there were external pressures brought forth to dilute and thereby obliterate the investigation with the passage of time,” the C.I.P.I asserted.      

According to section 5.4 of the report, other salient factors to be considered include the intervention of the Army which had also resulted in causing damages to a certain extent; the subsequent transfer of a large segment of inmates to Prisons facilities elsewhere; the continued presence of the Prisons officials against whom accusations are made; and the threats brought forth by certain officials to inmates to prevent them from divulging the truth.

Issues Relevant To Witness Protection (Inmates And Officials)

As per evidence based in witness testimony, there is an allegation that Lamahewage had used his influence to interfere with witnesses including both inmates and Prisons Staff with the view of preventing them from testifying before the C.I.P.I., a matter which Ceylon Today has previously reported based on a telephone call recording between two witnesses.

The Assistance to and Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses Act, No. 4 of 2015 should be utilized to provide safeguards to those who have testified and will, from fear and apprehension, conveyed and displayed, of acts of reprisal, threats and harassment, and the likelihood of serious allegations being framed against witnesses who make disclosures against and adverse to superior officers. 

In sections, 6, 7 and 8 of the report, the C.I.P.I has noted in particular the case of former OIC of Minor Offences attached to the Borella Police (and at present the Thalangama Police) IP H.M. Yassendra Nalaka involving Senanayake and Lamahewage, where the former had notified the Court of the position with regard to the death of Malith Sameera Perera aka Konda Amila and his failure to move the Court to close the case, and the subsequent interdiction of the former and the resultant issue of a charge sheet (after a lapse of 19 months), which the C.I.P.I points out is far from reasonable and just. The C.I.P.I concludes that Senanayake had acted in a partisan manner. 


On the question of compensation, the C.I.P.I notes that no compensation should be made to: the next of kin of the 11 inmates who were killed (succumbing to gunshot injuries) when they attempted to escape from lawful custody (Section 221 of the Penal Code) using a three-wheeler and by firing at STF personnel on the outer perimeter and outside environs of the Prisons; and to the STF personnel who sustained injuries during the course of their search op, which blatantly violated the legal requirements to be observed before and after their entry into the Prisons complex on 9 November, 2012. 

Probe By The Previous Committee And Findings 

The first Committee of Inquiry appointed on 10 November, 2012, by Gajadeera, and comprised of Atapattu (Chair), former Deputy Inspector General of Police Gunasena Thenabadu and former Chief Legal Consultant of and Advisor to the Ministry of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms Lalith Andrahannadi, commenced its sittings on 12 November, 2012 and concluded on 11 September, 2013.

According to the C.I.P.I, Andrahannadi’s appointment as a Committee Member, as per the evidence, constituted a conflict of interest, and that his continued functioning in the said capacity within the previous Committee, was “highly unethical and unprincipled”. This is by virtue of his having been actively involved in the preparatory meetings for the making of the arrangements for the execution of the conduct of the search at the Welikada Prisons on 9 November, 2012. In section of the report, the C.I.P.I further noted that Andrahannadi, an attorney-at-law, had been negligent of his duties to enlighten all concerned about the illegality of entering into Prisons facilities with firearms and conducting a search without a warrant.  

Furthermore, certain official witnesses had taken up the position that they had been influenced by certain Members of the previous Committee to “refrain from speaking the truth” and coached to highlight certain provisions of the law they were unfamiliar with. Also, certain witnesses after giving their statements to the previous Committee had not been permitted to read the said statements made prior to placing their signatures on the recorded statements. 

In their probe, the previous Committee had failed to look into the salient aspects with regard to the reasons and the necessity for the conduct of the search and the deployment of the STF.

It is thus the recommendation of the C.I.P.I that the findings of the final report (presented in the latter part of 2013) of the Atapattu Committee thereby be annulled in their totality as the findings were “foolish and silly”. Not to mention false.


Finally, it is the C.I.P.I’s recommendation that since the incident that took place on 9 November, 2012, at the Welikada Prisons complex, constituted a gross violation of the international law principle of proportionality and of the basic human rights of prisoners, the above allegations be investigated, and that wrongdoers be prosecuted and punished irrespective of their positions and/or political links, for the sake of the administration of justice.

Related posts:

Part -1 : 2012 Welikada Prison Massacre

Part -2 : “I Was An Eyewitness To Kalu Thushara’s Murder At 2012 Welikada Prison Bloodbath,” – Sudesh Nandimal Silva

Part -3 : Former Welikada Prison Official Testifies About The 2012 Massacre

Part -4 : Welikada Prison Massacre/Riot; Cover-Up under Climate Of Fear

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