Colombo Telegraph

Face Off – SDIG Latiff Vs. FM Sarath Fonseka & Rtd. SDIG Nimal Lewke

By Muhammed Fazl

Muhammed Fazl

“Power Does Not Corrupt, Fear Does. Perhaps The Fear Of A Loss Of Power” – John Steinbeck

Contemplated defusing the situation in private, but changed my mind when matters looked a lot more complicated. It all started (at least in the open), when National List MP and Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka (SF) made a statement at the Parliament on August 24, 2018, vilifying Senior DIG Latiff for the arrest of his supporters few weeks prior for allegedly having links to underworld crimes and/or for engaging in the narcotics trade.

While it is a common practice for the Sri Lankan Police Department to frame innocent people and implant narcotics as evidence, it is always welcome when real kingpins and dealers are nabbed in the process. A month ago, I personally had to intervene at the Mount Lavinia Police Station when a dozen teenagers were arrested at a party by the beach for confronting the police team when their party was raided. And not surprisingly and maliciously they were charged for possessing Ganja (weed) for which the sentences would have been a jail time and/or permanent criminal record should they decide to admit guilt and save the hassle of a litigation. As a result of behind-the-scene attempts, the DIG of Mirihana Police intervened and the case was withdrawn and I believe the arresting officer(s) was interdicted. I let the matter to rest once the detainees were discharged at the courts.

But many such victims are not fortunate enough to have such an audience to listen to their desperate pleas or have funds to pay for lawyers. And when SF berated in public over the arrest of some of his supporters over a similar circumstance, it did draw my attention.

Latiff

President Sirisena calling for the death penalty and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe having a zero-tolerance policy for drug offences has indeed driven the Special Task Force (STF) and the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) to expand their efforts. But when the STF, PNB and fighting organized crimes falls under the purview of one single man – SDIG Latiff, and when teams under him in their enthusiasm target only supporters of SF when similar anti-social elements identifying themselves with other Parliamentarians are left alone, I believe SF’s frustration is justified…, especially when some of the criminal charges are cooked up.

When police teams raid or arrest particular suspects, the SDIG in charge is not informed prior to such actions necessarily. Hence, the SDIG cannot be held responsible for such actions as a rule. It must be also mentioned that SL Police Department is highly politicized and can act and they certainly do act in most cases under instructions from political masters. A clear example would be the current ‘Yes-Sir, No-Sir, Three-Bags-Full-Sir’ Inspector General of Police (IGP), Pujith Jayasundara who promises to prevent the imminent arrest of a particular Nilame under strict political instructions from then-Minister of Law and Order, Sagala Rathnayake.

Fortunately, SDIG Latiff does not hail from such a background and is known for being honest and fearless and was never known to have bowed down to politicians or their influences when carrying out his duties. But unfortunately, he is less tactful when he has to maneuver through political waters. And it is this handicap and honorable conduct of this SDIG Latiff that made me do a bit of investigations and pen the following…,

Fonseka

Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka – Minister of Sustainable Development, Wildlife & Regional Development

SDIG Latiff being verbally attacked by SF should not come as a surprise. SF is on record to have said many things of importance and only to have retracted later on or said something on the contrary after some time. And during his last speech at the Parliament, SF accused a relative of SDIG Latiff of being complicit in a drug heist. And on August 25, 2018, I called SF on his mobile phone and I asked him to provide evidence to support his accusations. He merely gives me the B-report number of a police case and nothing more. Now I am not sure if SF has memory loss issues or if it is related to a possible Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder (PTSD) experienced after his retirement from military service. Either case, I believe it would be helpful if he is reminded of the following:-

  • Praises the ex-Secretary to Minister of Defense, Gotabaya Rajapaksa to the hilt soon after the war, only to run him down when SF becomes a Presidential candidate in 2010.
  • Praises the current President and helps him win the Presidential Elections in 2015, only to berate him later for not being appointed the Minister of Law and Order.
  • Goes out all against the Rajapaksas but accepts a pardon from the same.
  • Claims Sri Lanka belongs to the Sinhalese while soliciting for votes of minority communities and claiming to be the rightful leader of a multi-racial, multi-religious nation.
  • Claims to fight for a corruption-free nation, but helps his son-in-law win a questionable 200,000 USD plus contract to supply equipment to the military.
  • Claims to be transparent in financial dealings, but questions remain unanswered to-date over Rs. 75 million in foreign currency found stashed in a bank deposit box, supposedly to be that of illegal campaign funds being used for personal use.
  • In his blind hatred towards the Rajapaksas, confides to then Editor of Sunday Leader of the validity of the ‘white-flag’ incident at the last stages of the war, only to retract it later when realizing that he too would be implicated should there be an International War Crimes Tribunal.
  • I saved the best for last. SF makes a big hue and cry over the recent arrests and claims they were innocent supporters and absolves them of any crimes. But SF’s most trusted lieutenant and Secretary during SF’s Presidential bid was none other than Senaka Haripriya De Silva, an army officer who was convicted of armed robbery and who spent 3 plus years from a lengthy sentence behind bars. He is also wanted in Belgium over a cheating case for which the Sri Lankan government failed to extradite him due to the absence of an Extradition Treaty between the two nations. Interestingly, when a thief and a cheat currently lives at JAIC Hilton Residencies, would it also not beg the question of how he sustains himself? For SF’s sake, I just hope 2010 Presidential Elections campaign funds have nothing to do with it. Maybe it is about time we sign that Extradition Treaty with Belgium after all.

Lewke

I can live with all of the above…, but when SF in a fit of anger accused the relative of SDIG Latiff being involved in a drug raid that took place a couple of years back, the first question that came to my mind was how on earth did SF come to know of such and the case number particularly of the B-Report. Based on my investigations, the alleged suspect(s) in the drug raid happens to be a SIM card customer of a vendor who also happens to be a CCTV installer for the said relative. Phew, some connection that is. And if SF have some problems or a special interest about this particular slow pace of this case, he should have contacted the AG’s office or got in touch with the concerned prosecuting authority. Instead, he uses his parliamentary privileges and shoots his loose cannon of a mouth not knowing that it would boomerang on him eventually. And as for the rat who leaked the case number etc., enter SDIG Nimal Lewke!

SDIG Nimal Lewke – Ex-Commandant STF, Advisor to HE President Sirisena and Security Consultant to Aitken Spence Group.

  • Hates his former subordinate SDIG Latiff for not obliging with his request for additional Defender vehicles and extra STF personnel for his protection on his retirement. Could it be possible that Mr. Lewke forgot that the war ended a long time ago and now that we have a relatively peaceful environment?
  • Nimal Lewke, supposedly a violent man and having threatened a widow and wife of a fallen war Hero Colonel by using his muscle and might, I am beginning to wonder how he ended up as an advisor to the President. I recall this incident which happened 9 years ago when I personally had to accompany the victim, Mrs. Ranasinghe to The Sunday Leader office in Ratmalana to expose the story as a last resort. Browsing through the net, I found this letter written by a reader in this regard to be an interesting read as well.
  • When SDIG Nimal Lewke, abuses his official position at the Presidential Secretariat to achieve unrelated tasks and to secure his personal interests with the Aitken Spence Group for which he is a Security Consultant, should not that be the last straw for the President to fire him from the post of Advisor to The President?

As an Independent social/political activist, I believe there has not been much of an improvement in the conduct of the Sri Lanka Police Department as a result of the appointment of IGP Jayasundara nor crime levels being contained substantially. In this context, should not the government look for alternatives? During my last two one-on-one meeting with President Sirisena, I did bring up this subject for which I sincerely believe he would take decisive decisions at the right time. Officers from the same mold can come and go, but if we are serious about establishing Good Governance, should not we think out of the box and appoint honest and efficient officers who could bring radical changes to the infamous Police Department of Sri Lanka? And if not now, when?

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