Sri Lanka President signals green light for VVIP arrests
ECONOMYNEXT – President Maithripala Sirisena Wednesday drew a clear distinction between war heroes and those who used national security as a cover to target journalists and personal rivals and cleared the way for VVIP arrests.
In an address to war veterans, the president said he will stand by the military which crushed the Tamil Tigers and ended the decades-long ethnic war, but he will not protect those who attacked journalists and sportsmen.
His remarks were a thinly veiled reference to the January 2009 assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunga and the May 2012 murder of rugby star Wasim Thajudeen. Both cases were brushed under the carpet during the Rajapaksa regime.
However, in both case, fresh evidence has shown that the Judicial Medical Officers colluded with corrupt police to give false autopsy reports and deliberately mislead the investigations and also destroy vital evidence.
"In the on-going investigations, irrespective of the station in life of the suspects, justice will be done," the president said. "Those who carried out killings under the cover of the war will not be protect."
His remarks were seen as a go ahead for the Criminal Investigations department to go ahead with high profile arrests in both the Lasantha case and the Thajudeen murder.
The CID filing a B report in the Mount Lavinia court last week said that the then head of national intelligence Kapila Hendavitharana led a killer squad that targeted journalists.
The CID made it clear that Hendavitharana worked directly under Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, officially implicating the former defence secretary in Lasantha’s killing. However, the former defence secretary has said his name was not mentioned anywhere in the police report to court, but the B report, as seen by court reporters, has a clear reference to him.
Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has denied involvement and has sought to shift the blame to his army chief Sarath Fonseka who has also denied any thing to do with killing the Sunday Leader editor on January 8, 2009.
Six members of a military intelligence unit are already in custody in connection with the 2008 abduction and assault of Nation deputy editor Keith Noyahr. Police have said that the same gang carried out Lasantha’s killing, the attack on Rivira editor Upali Tennakoon and several others.
The vehicle used in the abduction of Noyahr was seized by police, police headquarters said in a statement Wednesday.
It said the white coloured van was being used by a woman in Piliyandala who was known to Major Bulathwatte, a suspect who is already in custody. The same vehicle hasd been used in Lasantha’s assassination too, police said. (COLOMBO, March 29, 2017)