Thursday August 22, 2019

Sri Lanka cabinet snubs President over arrest of military chief

By Our Political Correspondent

Sep 13, 2018 17:59 PM GMT+0530 | 16 Comment(s)

ECONOMYNEXT - President Maithripala Sirisena summoned an emergency cabinet meeting to defend the country’s senior-most military officer who is facing imminent arrest for allegedly shielding a mass murder suspect, but failed to secure agreement.

The noon meeting of the cabinet ended after heated exchanges, sources close to the administration said adding that the President failed in get support and the issue was put off until the return to the island of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Cabinet ministers had been told to maintain silence over the issue until the return of Wickremesinghe who is visiting Vietnam.

There had been no denial of recent media reports that Sirisena had advised military commanders not to cooperate with ongoing police investigations involving abduction, extortion and murder during the former regime.

Sirisena was miffed that the police Criminal Investigations Department (CID) had collected evidence against Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne and also obtained a court order for his arrest before he left the island for Mexico on Monday.

The Admiral had left the country to attend the national day of Mexico which is on September 16. He slipped out of the country even as he was summoned to the CID to record a statement about his alleged involvement in obstructing the arrest of a mass murder suspect.

The CID has already told court that Admiral Wijegunaratne gave half a million rupees in cash to help navy intelligence officer Hettiarachchi Mudiyanselage Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi, the main suspect in the abduction and murder of 11 children escape arrest.

The CID has uncovered chilling details of how children and young men of wealthy families were abducted for ransom by a gang of navy officers, allegedly led by Hettiarachchi, and subsequently killed after holding them at naval facilities in Colombo and Trincomalee between 2008 and 2009.

The alarm was raised by the then navy commander, Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda who complained to the CID during the former regime of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.  However, the case has dragged with powerful political interests protecting the suspects, police said.

It was not immediately clear Wijegunaratne would return to the country although he had asked the CID for a fresh date to make a statement.

Several other navy intelligence officers, including former navy spokesman D. K. P. Dassanayake who were arrested in connection with the murders have now been released on bail.

Admiral Wijegunaratne was caught on camera in December 2016 assaulting a television journalist at the Hambantota harbour, but despite a huge public outcry, President Maithripala Sirisena granted him an extension of service and later promoted him CDS.

His successor Travis Sinniah took office in August last year pledging no forgiveness for his officers who may have committed crimes taking the cover of the island's drawn out separatist war.

But Sinniah, regarded as one of the most honourable officers in service, was terminated in just two months after he was denied an extension of service.

President Sirisena declared his opposition to both the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) and the CID in October 2016 during a meeting at the Sri Lanka Foundation.

"I condemn the actions of FCID, the CID and the Bribery Commission,"  Sirisena said.

"They should not work according to a political agenda. If they do, I will have to take stern action against them. I deplore their recent actions and I want to express my disgust."
Sirisena aid military commanders who led a successful campaign to crush separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in May 2009 should not be humiliated by bringing them to courts. (COLOMBO, September 13, 2018)


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  1. Raji September 25, 12:03 PM

    Killing civilians and children for ransom during war times cannot be condoned under any circumstances. If there is direct and reliable evidence those who have committed such crimes should be brought to justice.

  2. James September 15, 06:37 AM

    For some people here their War hero is Brabakaren. But that is the trademark of Sinhalees.

  3. Ranaviru September 15, 06:28 AM

    We find the word 'Ranaviruwa' is been misused by many all the time. Therefore the authorities should first give an official clarification with regard to the meaning of this word and also declare how one looses this position.

  4. Para September 15, 05:58 AM

    Best is to give this facility to the whole population to make everyone happy.

  5. gama September 14, 04:55 AM

    If the impunity prevails to the criminals who killed innocences citizens and those who shield criminals what is a state of democracy of this country.The unfortunate of this country is when true patriots are ejected,criminals pretended as patiots are reign.True democracy never exist hand in hand with law of jungle in this modern society

  6. Namal September 14, 04:55 AM

    Because of this character of so called president, I suppose the Sri Lankan Airline gave his cashew suitable for dogs. I was on the same flight but on back seat because I was paying own money to buy the ticket not tax payers money. We got quality peanuts

  7. Rajapaksa September 14, 04:47 AM

    So army commander can kill and protect murderers but Lokka will protect. Bloody fool and rogue at the top.

  8. justice September 14, 04:40 AM

    Winning the war is no excuse for terrorising citizens.

  9. Ananda September 14, 10:09 AM

    According to Sri lankan constitution it s a punishable offence meddling in contries justice system. Sri lanka s 3 pillars that upholds it s democratic system are the parliament,President and judiciary .Neither President,no the parliament could interfere in nations justice system. it s criminal offence

  10. Bystander September 14, 09:59 AM

    War time commanders are not above the law.Neither is Sirisena. A clear case of obstruction of justice We thought Trump was bad He has been trumped Sad

  11. Jay September 14, 07:05 AM

    This president is scared of something and does not like difficult issues. This is bit more than the cashew nut issue.

  12. FC September 14, 04:07 AM

    Disgusting, how can the general public and the minorities expect fair play and justice from this horrible Yamapalanaya

  13. Torabora September 13, 11:01 AM

    These rascals are not war heroes, but war criminals They must be brought to justice like other citizens who commit crimes. President Sira is complicit in some of these. This is why he is trying to shield Gotaand others.

  14. Burt September 13, 10:29 AM

    He is obstructing justice and the AG's office is silent. What a disgrace.

  15. Kevin September 13, 09:17 AM

    Obstruction of Justice. Interfering in criminal investigations. Attacking the Government's own law and order officials. It's the President of the Republic. No, it is not Trump. We all thought Trump was the worst. Now we have our own man bettering Trump in going low. Banana Republic.

  16. Nana September 13, 08:38 AM

    Sirisena clearly playing Drama to the Gallery. He should understand these people are not the real War Heroes, but just uniformed Thugs who infact destroyed the good effort and image created by real War heroes. He should be insane not to realise this..

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