Sri Lankan journalist Namal Perera identifies his would-be killers

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan journalist Namal Perera has identified two men who caused him grievous injury and tried to abduct him as he travelled with a friend in Kirulapone nearly nine years ago.

Perera, who was then a course coordinator at the Sri Lanka College of Journalism, was attacked weeks after deputy editor of the Nation newspaper Keith Noyahr was severely assaulted.

Perera was summoned to the Colombo Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday by the Colombo Crime Division (CCD) to identify six suspects in custody in connection with the June 2008 assault against him.

Police reopened the case as it emerged that the same killer squad responsible for assassinating Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunga was behind a spate of attacks on journalists and dissidents at the time.

Court officials said Perera correctly identified two of the suspects as those who took part in the daring evening attack against him and his friend’s car on Baseline Road.

The two identified were Duminda Weeraratne, who is said to have driven the white van used in the attack, and Hemachandra Perera,  who smashed the windscreen of Namal Perera’s car.

The two suspects were remanded till April 26 by acting magistrate Liyanarachchi who released the other four suspects on surety bail of 200,000 rupees each. However, all six went back to the remand prison as they are already in remand custody in connection with several other cases.

Senior attorney-at-law Ravi Mathugama appeared for the two men, as well as a third suspect major Prabath Bulathwatte, while attorney Chintaka Amarasinghe appeared for the other three.

The attempt by the gang to take away Perera in June 2008 was foiled by residents and heavy traffic in the area at the time. The attackers travelled in a white van with false number plates.

However, the vehicle used in the attack has already been seized by police who established that it was the same vehicle used in the attacks against Wickrematunga and another editor, Upali Tennakoon. (COLOMBO, April 12, 2017)