Plot thickens in Sri Lanka editor’s murder
ECONOMYNEXT – Police investigating the hanging of an ex-military intelligence officer after claiming responsibility for the murder of editor Lasantha Wickrematunga found his telephone records mysteriously wiped out.
Ilandarige Jayamanne, 52, was found hanging at his kitchen Friday along with a handwritten note claiming he killed the anti-establishment editor in 2009, two years after he retired from the army in 2007.
The man’s 22-year-old eldest son told investigators that the handwriting was similar to that of his father, but an expert report is awaited.
The purported suicide note intended for the military intelligence unit, which is a main suspect in Wickrematunga’s killing, says a suspect in custody was not the killer.
The note claims that Jayamanne was a friend of the suspect now in custody. However, the suspect’s name is incorrectly written in the alleged suicide note.
Police found that Jayamanne had disappeared from home on October 11 and turned up only on the night of the 13th. No family member was told where he went.
"Erasing records of calls and SMS messages from the handset is a red flag, but we can get the details from the phone company," a source close to the investigation said.
“We want to know where he went days before the hanging and who met with him.”
Police have not ruled out the possibility of a set up to divert the attention of Wickrematunga murder inquiry, which is currently at an advanced stage.
Several top police and military officers as well as medical officers are tipped to be arrested in connection with tampering of evidence as well as falsifying records to disrupt the investigation.
Two retired Inspectors General of Police are likely to be taken in for further questioning, the sources said.
The alleged suicide of a former military intelligence officer comes after the new government reopened the investigation into the January 2009 killing that sent shock waves across the country and sparked international outrage.
A serving military intelligence officer is already in custody in connection with Wickrematunga’s death.
Civil society activists issued a public appeal to President Maithripala Sirisena to sack the head of military intelligence Brigadier Tuan Suresh Sallay after accusing him of trying to create discord within the unity government.
Last month, authorities exhumed Wickrematunga’s body to conduct a fresh autopsy after fears that initial forensic reports may been deliberately falsified to sabotage investigations.
Wickrematunga was killed a few days before he was due to give evidence before a judge looking into corruption allegations against Gotabhaya Rajapakse, the then defence secretary, who has denied any involvement. (COLOMBO, Oct 15, 2016)