Sri Lanka assassination drama gets murkier – Update II
ECONOMYNEXT – An Indian national arrested in connection with an investigation into an alleged plot to assassinate Sri Lanka’s President and several others is an asylum seeker who had applied to the UN for refugee status, police sources said Wednesday.
A man identified as Marcili Thomas, an Indian from the southern state of Kerala had been arrested over his links with Namal Kumara, the former police informant and air force deserter who publicly declared that there was a plan to kill Maithripala Sirisena and others.
Thomas was initially detained on a charge of over staying his Sri Lankan tourist visa and suspicion that he was concealing details of his association with Namal Kumara who has changed his story many times since the Criminal Investigations Department launched the investigation.
Investigators were baffled by media reports Wednesday claiming that the CID had reported to the Fort magistrate that Thomas planned to kill the President and the entire family of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.
"There was no mention of any plan to kill the former president and his family and we are investigating the source of this report," a police source said.
"No court reporter present in court could have written those reports because no such thing transpired. It is a matter of public record anyone can check."
Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera told reporters that the Indian national has not made any statement about any assassination plot, but he seemed to be an acquaintance of Namal Kumara. He refuted newspaper reports which claimed that the CID had informed the magistrate of uncovering a plot to target the Rajapaksa family.
CID had sought court permission to detain Thomas and items found in his possession, including mobile phones and documents including English news clippings featuring MP Wimal Weerawansa.
On April 3 last year, Thomas had applied to the UNHCR for asylum status. Investigators said they were keen to submit him to a psychiatric test before proceeding any further.
Indian authorities were also reportedly involved in assisting the Sri Lankan police to check the background of Thomas.
Investigators have uncovered some disturbing elements of Namal Kumara’s press conference in Kandy and the audio tapes he played claiming that those were made by him.
He claimed the audio contained his conversations with DIG Nalaka Silva, the then head of the Terrorism Investigation Department (TID).
Contrary to his public claims, Attanayake Mudiyanselage Namal Kumara now maintains that he did not make the phone conversation recordings and they had been given to him by an unknown third party.
Based on his initial allegations, TID chief Nalaka de Silva has been sent on compulsory leave.
Namal Kumara had claimed that an underworld figure known as Makandure Madush was to be contracted for the assassination, but later told investigators that it was to be done by Indian national Thomas.
Namal Kumara had claimed he was aware that a sniper weapon was to be used, but there was no indication of such a firearm in the hands of the Indian in custody.
There has been no official word from President Sirisena’s office about reports Namal Kumara had been in the pay or still continues to be with the Presidential Secretariat under its anti-alcohol task force. (COLOMBO, September 26, 2018)