Sri Lanka police seize Red Cross ‘Defender’ over Thajudeen’s murder
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Red Cross Monday admitted that a Land Rover Defender belonging to them had been seized by the police Criminal Investigations Department probing the murder of rugby star Wasim Thajudeen.
The head of Sri Lanka Red Cross Jagath Abeysinghe had been questioned extensively on how a Red Cross vehicle was used in the abduction of Thajudeen in May 2012 shortly before he was killed.
The defender vehicle now forms part of the evidence. However, more questions have been raised over why the new vehicle had been repainted black changing from its original colour of white.
Abeysinghe, a close family friend of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, has maintained that he authorised the gift of the Defender (WP KA-0642) to the Siriliya Saviya Foundation at the request of the then government.
It was not clear on what basis the Red Cross, a member of the Geneva-based International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, gave the vehicle to Shiranthi Rajapaksa’s Siriliya Saviya in August 2011.
Red Cross in a statement posted on its website today said the then Social Services minister Felix Perera had requested them to give the vehicle to Siriliya Saviya Foundation of Shiranthi Rajapaksa.
The "opportunity to support the Siriliya Saviya Foundation should be considered as a privilege to serve the most vulnerable people of Sri Lanka," the then minister Perera had told the Red Cross, according to the Red Cross statement.
"Accordingly a defender bearing the number plate WP – KA 0642 was handed over to the Chairperson of the Siriliya Saviya Foundation Former First Lady Mrs. Shiranthi Rajapaksa on the 11th of August 2011," the statement said.
Questions are being raised on why Siriliya Saviya repainted the white Defender vehicle and gave it a fresh coat of black paint. The colour change had not been notified to the registrar of motor vehicles as required by law.
It becomes even more curious why the Red Cross repossessed the vehicle after the fall of Rajapaksa regime following the January 8 presidential election.
Meanwhile, forensic experts exhumed the body of Thajudeen today and formally reopened the murder investigation.
Police sources said an internal investigation was also underway to find out how the then Senior Deputy Inspector General Anura Senanayake ordered to close the Thajudeen case without any judicial orders.
The cover up of the crime stretches to the then IGP, N. K. Illangakoon who is still holding that post, the sources said adding that his position is also increasingly untenable. (Colombo/Aug10/2015)
The full statement from Sri Lanka Red Cross is reproduced below:
Statement of Clarification on the vehicle loaned to Siriliya Saviya Foundation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
10th August 2015
The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society would like to clarify and provide information to the public about the vehicle that was loaned to the Siriliya Saviya Foundation.
Sri Lanka Red Cross (then Ceylon Red Cross) was founded in 1936 and was later ratified by the Geneva Convention of 12th August 1949 and the UN resolution 55 (1) recognizing it as a National Society which is Auxiliary to the Government of its established country, in its humanitarian activities.
We have the right to act upon our Fundamental Principles of Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity and Universality.
On the 21st of June 2011 an official communique was raised to our Chairman (President) Mr. Jagath Abeysinghe by the Secretary of the Siriliya Saviya Foundation Ms. Kumari Dissanayake requesting support for transportation for its health related work for women and children.
Accordingly on the 22nd of June 2011, our Chairman (President) wrote officially to the Minister of Social Welfare at that time, Former Minister Felix Perera seeking his advice on the next course of action for Sri Lanka Red Cross to take on this matter.
On the 27th of June 2011, the Minister of Social Welfare Former Minister Felix Perera wrote back with his consent and concur, while requesting Sri Lanka Red Cross to proceed in providing the said support towards transportation to the Siriliya Saviya Foundation.
The Minister also emphasized to Sri Lanka Red Cross that this opportunity to support the Siriliya Saviya Foundation should be considered as a privilege to serve the most vulnerable people of Sri Lanka.
Accordingly a defender bearing the number plate WP – KA 0642 was handed over to the Chairperson of the Siriliya Saviya Foundation Former First Lady Mrs. Shiranthi Rajapakse on the 11th of August 2011.
On the 20th January 2015, the Transport Manager of Sri Lanka Red Cross retrieved the said vehicle from the Siriliya Saviya Foundation.
We would like to inform the public that Sri Lanka Red Cross Society is unaware of the activities and maintenance of this vehicle from the period of August 2011 to until the time the vehicle was retrieved in this year as it was entrusted to the Siriliya Saviya Foundation.
On 30th June 2015, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) requested our President and our Director General to provide statements on the change of color of the said vehicle, to which both has provided all information known, to the authorities. The vehicle is now in the procession of the Criminal Investigation Department.
Sri Lanka Red Cross will continue to provide accurate information to the authorities over the matter in the coming days as well.