Investigations into the assassination of Lasantha Wickremetunga were initially launched by the Mount Lavinia Police.
Afterwards, the investigations were handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and then, the Terrorism Investigations Division (TID). Following the formation of the Yahapalana Government in 2015, the investigations were again handed over to the CID.
Maithripala Sirisena, the then Presidential Candidate, speaking on stages pledged to give proper answers to atrocities committed by the Rajapaksa regime.
CID takes over investigations into Lasantha’s assassination
Eventually, investigations into the assassination of Lasantha Wickremetunga were revived after they were handed over to qualified officers. Consequently, former Officer-In-Charge of the Mount Lavinia Police Crime Division, Inspector of Police Thissa Sugathapala was arrested by the CID over allegedly concealing and destroying evidence pertaining to Lasantha Wickremetunga’s assassination. Former Senior Deputy Inspector General Prasanna Nanayakkara was also arrested.
Jayanta Dharmadasa acted as the then Inspector General of Police.
However, Prasanna Nanayakkara did not reveal information pertaining to the killing of Lasantha, which made it difficult for the CID to advance investigations.
Hemanta Adhikari, the then Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) in charge of the Mount Lavinia Division, was also questioned by the CID.
These are the progressive results of handing over investigations into Lasantha’s assassination, to the CID.
The CID found five telephone numbers which were believed to be related to Lasantha Wickremetunga’s assassination. In February 2010, a resident of Nuwaraeliya identified as Jesudasan was arrested.
Dragging Sarath Fonseka into Lasantha’s murder
The TID, with the aim of linking former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka with Lasantha Wickremetunga’s murder, had arrested 17 military personnel who worked under him in connection with the murder.
The TID had attempted twice to obtain bail for them, however, a person arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act can only be released on Attorney General’s instructions.
Thissa Sugathapala conducted preliminary investigations into Lasantha’s murder. On 16th January 2009, he received everything that was in Lasantha’s car when he was murdered.
Lasantha used a notebook, and it was always in his hand. Even when he was murdered, it was in his car. Thissa Sugathapala had taken that, too. Since Lasantha had written everything in the notebook in English, Thissa did not have a proper idea about the contents of the notebook, however, former senior DIG Prasanna Nanayakkara had taken notes of many things that was in Lasantha’s notebook.
What happened to Lasantha’s notebook, and what Thissa Sugathapala wrote in the Crime Division’s notebook, remains a mystery. Former senior DIG Prasanna Nanayakkara was the last person who had those, however, he had refrained from revealing what happened to the notes.
Who is Senior DIG Prasanna Nanayakkara trying to protect?
Why would Prasanna Nanaykkara, despite being an officer who wore the police uniform to protect the law, conceal information about a crime? In his notebook, Lasantha had written the numbers of vehicles that were following him. But the Mount Lavinia Police did not conduct a proper investigation into it.
As per information obtained from the Department of Motor Traffic, vehicle numbers written in Lasantha Wickremetunga’s notebook belonged to two motorcycles. These motorcycles belonged to two persons living in Ja Ela and Boralesgamuwa.
Lasantha, Upali and Keith, fingers of one chain
It had been revealed that the telephone numbers found by the CID with regard to Lasantha’s murder were linked to two other incidents, namely the assault on former Rivira Editor Upali Thennakooon and the abduction and assault of The Nation journalist Keith Noyahr.
CID officers had confirmed that these incidents were not solitary incidents but were connected to each other.
There were four eye witnesses of the above two incidents, and another witness who saw Lasantha’s murder. But the TID had not presented them for an identification parade, instead produced them before open court.
Jesudasan was arrested during investigations conducted into the telephone numbers found. After spending nearly one year in prison, in 2012, he died. The TID claimed it was a natural death.
Jesudasan had revealed that a person named Piyawansa, who served in military intelligence, purchased a SIM card using his national identity card.
However, even after a link between Jesudasan and Piyawansa was revealed, the TID did not question Piyawansa until Jesudasan’s death. In this context, the TID was ordered to hand over investigations into Lasantha’s murder, to the CID.
Attempts to protect Piyawansa
The CID continuously emphasized the need of questioning Piyawansa, before the court, but the army did not positively respond. After the court issued several orders, once Piyawansa appeared before the CID with two other senior officers.
If you talk about Gotabhaya, you’ll be killed – Lasantha’s driver threatened
The CID found Lasantha’s disappeared driver in Badulla. After the killers of Lasantha abducted and released him, he had fled to Badulla seeking protection.
He had been abducted because he had stated several times that former Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is involved in Lasantha’s murder. The driver, after he was abducted, had been threatened to refrain from speaking of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
Lasantha Wickremetunga’s driver had told the CID that he is able to identify those who abducted him. Accordingly, the CID arrested an army officer identified as Udalagama.
Investigations revealed that the army had paid the monthly salary of Piyawansa, who had been suspended, to his wife. The basis on which payments were made to the wife of a suspended army officer, is problematic.
Once futile attempts were made to drag former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka into this murder. Later, reports were circulated that the LTTE was behind it.
False allegations against LTTE
Attempts were made to drag the LTTE also into this incident, and a motorcycle was found in the Attidiya canal, claiming that the IGP had received a petition that the motorcycle used by Lasantha’s killers had been thrown to the Attidiya canal.
The motorcycle did not have its number plate. After examining its engine number, the police found the address of the owner of the motorcycle.
The motorcycle belonged to a person identified as Nadarajah, a resident of Vavuniya. Even though police officers attached to the Mount Lavinia Police went to Vavuniya and arrested the owner of the bike, he had already sold it.
It was after this incident false reports were circulated that the LTTE is behind Lasantha’s murder.
State terror: two Tamil youths murdered
Meanwhile, Lasantha Wickremetunga’s killers had abducted Wishna Kumar and one of his friends in Settikulama, which was a high-security zone, and murdered them in Dambirigaswewa area. Later, the motorcycle they rode had been thrown to the Attidiya canal.
Eventually, Wishna Kumar and his friend, two innocent persons, lost their lives.
MiG aircraft deal was a fraud – Lasantha was right
The CID then focused on allegations made by Lasantha Wickremetunga’s daughter with regard to her father’s murder. She had stated that former Defense Secretary was unhappy about the fact that Lasantha Wickremetunga spoke about the infamous MiG aircraft deal.
According to her, her father had stated in five instances that the Defense Secretary was plotting to kill him.
But ultimately Gotabhaya Rajapaksa asked: “Who is Lasantha?”
At that time, an unidentified group was following Lasantha Wickremetunga, and it was a well-known secret that the then Defense Secretary wanted to kill him. Finally, Lasantha was assassinated in a high-security zone.
Lasantha did not have personal issues with either underworld or the LTTE. It has been revealed that he was threatened over the information he reveled with regard to the MiG aircraft deal.
Meanwhile, suspects arrested over Lasantha’s assassination had been forced to refrain from uttering a word about Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. For that, they had been sponsored by the government.
Two innocent Tamil youths were abducted and murdered in a high-security zone.
It has been revealed that Lasantha’s murder, assault on Upali Thennakoon, and abducting and assaulting Keith Noyahr, are linked to each other.
Former government’s involvement in Keith Noyahr’s incident has also been revealed.
War heroes are not contract killers
These three persons are journalists by profession. They fearlessly criticized the former regime, revealed scams. It is a fact that they were hated by rulers.
In attempt to cover up murderous rulers, the society was told that war heroes are being targeted.
War heroes are not contract killers of political criminals. They have not right to commit crimes under the ‘war hero’ label.
Political deals that bury crimes
The CID is exposing how the Rajapaksa regime encouraged violence. Further investigations into Lasantha’s murder are being conducted. Although there is opportunity to create the background to arrest not only Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and former military intelligence heads but also everyone involved, the government remains silent.
These political deals must be defeated. The public must be vigilant about the protection of CID officers who have dedicated their lives to do that.