Sri Lanka’s police media spokesman’s office suspended

ECONOMYNEXT – The police media spokesman’s office was suspended with immediate effect, official sources said Monday, signalling a "serious issue" with the incumbent Assistant Superintendent Ruwan Gunasekara.

ASP Gunasekara was in hot water after a local newspaper quoted him extensively on the controversial discovery of an alleged suicide jacket at Chavakachcheri last month.

On Saturday, Gunasekera had declared that the suspects wanted in connection with the alleged suicide jacket  were working for the military intelligence.

It was reported earlier that the jacket had been wrapped in a Sinhalese-language newspaper dated 2008. Many had suspected at the time that it could have been planted to discredit the new government.

However, Gunasekara was quoted extensively again on Monday by the same newspaper, which has been warning that the Tamil Tigers were making a comeback, an allegation the government has vehemently denied.

Although Gunasekara may not be at fault in this case, many senior officers in the department said that he should have been disciplined for several of his illegal actions during the tenure of former IGP N. K Illangakoon.

Gunasekera, who is also a lawyer, had appeared on behalf of the policemen suspected of being involved in killing a man at a party in Embilipitiya earlier this year.

Local lawyers protested that the police spokesman could not represent the policemen in his capacity as a private lawyer while working in the police department.

The then-IGP Illangakoon, under fire from the legal fraternity, withdrew Gunasekara from the case, but many of his comments amounted to influencing evidence, according to senior officers.

Gunasekara is also in hot water over his alleged orders to the Opanayake OIC to arrest an army officer who was a passenger in a military vehicle involved in a fatal accident on February 18.

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In order to justify his comments to a local television station, Gunasekara had wanted the Opanayake OIC to secure the remanding of the army major who had nothing to do with the accident.

An internal investigation had been ordered and its outcome is not known, but Opanayake police officials said Gunasekara had denied giving orders to the OIC although there was enough evidence to prove otherwise.

Gunasekara was not available for comment and his last press release was signed at 5.00 a.m. on Monday. Thereafter, his office maintained complete silence.

The new IGP Pujith Jayasundara had ordered the suspension of the office of the police media spokesman, which functioned under the Police Public Relations (PPR) Division. No formal explanation was given by the police. (Colombo/May02/2016)
 

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