By Nalaka Rupasinghe –
‘’Authoritarian leaders often exercise power arbitrarily and without regard to existing bodies of law.’’
Extrajudicial killings had been the common practice before 2015 when Mahinda Rajapaksa was the president, and the evil practice has come back again since Gotabaya Rajapaksa was given dictatorship powers with the 20th amendment and having his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister. I had exposed the evil practice with my article with the title ‘Police Murders and Sri Lankan Media Responsibility’ back in 2010. It was published on Sunday Leader after the brutal killing of its late editor Lasantha Wickrematunge.
The article was widely valued by media professionals and more than 10 online newspapers at that time published it by courtesy of The Sunday Leader.
(Please note The Sunday Leader had to be closed forever after its successor Frederica Jansz fled the country fearing her life)
In a news conference a prominent, well respected lawyer Lal Wijenayake was explaining the grave situation, the citizens facing today, with extrajudicial killings. The lawyers for democracy had called for the media conference to Alarm about the situation after the consecutive killings of two suspects in police custody namely Mambulage Dineth Melan Mambula alias “Uru Juwa” and Kosgoda Tharaka. He said prior to those killings another 6 suspects including Makandure Madush were killed in the same pattern and this was the evil practice before 2015 (when Mahinda Rajapaksa was the president) During that time more than 200 suspects who were in police custody murdered unlawfully by the police. That is why we worked hard to change the government in 2015 (A NOTE: But those criminals were not punished by Maithripala-Ranil government 2015-19)
“There are protocols for the safety of suspects or prisoners when they have to be taken out for investigations. How could a prisoner or suspect who is in handcuffs try to shoot at police officers with guns? Ajith Rohana should be shamed for telling those bullshit to the media,” he pointed out.
Since the relatives and the lawyers knew about the notorious practice and the pattern of the killing suspects in police custody, the close relatives of Mambulage Dineth Melan Mambula alias “Uru Juwa” and Kosgoda Tharaka through their lawyers had appealed for protection for their sons. Lawyer Senaka Perera and another lawyer from Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners revealed to the media about the immediate actions the lawyers had taken including the President and the Secretary of the bar association to prevent the killings fearing they were going to be killed under the pretext of recovering hidden weapons.
In addition to those efforts, having received credible information about the murder plan of Tharaka Perera alias Kosgoda Tharaka an online newspaper had exposed the plan on 12 May 20121 to prevent the killing. On the same day (12 May), the lawyer representing Tharaka Perera alias Kosgoda Tharaka had informed the President of the Bar association Saliya Pieris to intervene. He and the secretary of the Bar association had immediately informed with emails and WhatsApp messages to the IGP, Human Rights Commission and the Paliyagoda police station to protect the suspect. But neither lawyers nor IGP could prevent their murders. However, police media spokesman DIG baby (BABA) Ajith Rohana had the police version to justify the brutal killings. This was what he said about the consecutive killings:
1) An organized criminal known as Mambulage Dineth Melan Mambula alias “Uru Juwa” wanted over several murders and extortion was shot dead by police during an incident at Nawagamuwa, Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said.
2) Notorious underworld figure “Kosgoda Tharaka”, who was in police custody under detention orders, has been shot dead early this morning at Meerigama when he tried to attack police officers while recovering some weapons, police said.
Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said the suspect was escorted to the Rendapola area in Meerigama this morning (13) for a special operation, while in custody of the Western
Prior to those killings Makandure Madush was killed while he was in police custody. This was the DIG Baba’s version.
Notorious underworld drug kingpin Samarasinghe Arachchige Madush Lakshitha alias Makandure Madush was shot dead in a crossfire between police and other suspected underworld figures at Maligawatte Housing Complex, Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said.
By linking the suspects to numerous crimes such as possessing firearms, drugs etc. police trying to get public approval and support after killing them in cold blood.
But this is not the way police in civilised world/countries bring criminals to justice, regardless of the extent of the crimes suspects had committed. Here are two examples.
1.) On 22 July 2011, Anders Behring Breivik, 32, in Norway Oslo, detonated a van bomb to destroy a huge government building and then the Far-right extremist Breivik went on to kill 69 youngsters, 33 of whom were under the age of 18. In total, he murdered 77 people that day, including those in Oslo. He used explosives, hand grenades, several automatic weapons in the killing spree also live-streamed the shooting. But the police did not want to kill him instead he was arrested and prosecuted. Every time he was brought to the court, he was well protected even with bulletproof glass cover to prevent possible revenge from the victims’ relatives.
He was given the maximum sentence of 21 years, but with a “preventive detention” clause that means his time in jail can be extended as long as he is deemed a threat to society. It is unlikely he will ever be released.
2.) Brenton Harrison Tarrant, a 28-year-old man from Australia killed 51 people and 48 wounded in shootings, on 15 March 2019, at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in the nation’s deadliest attack. He had live streamed the first shooting on Facebook. He was arrested shortly afterward then charged with 51 murders, 40 attempted murders and found guilty of the murders and attempted murders. The white supremacist who killed 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand will serve life in jail without parole – the first person in the country’s history to receive the sentence.
Regardless of the seriousness of the crimes they committed they deserved fair trails and were well protected by the police until they were punished by the courts. This is how the justice works in civilised world.
It is said that the president of the Bar Association Saliya Pieris had written to the President to investigate into the matter (unlawful killing of Mambulage Dineth Melan Mambula alias “Uru Juwa” and Kosgoda Tharaka). This is not more than a famous Sinhala proverb Horage ammagen Pena Ahanava vage. (asking the thief ‘s mother to perform a ritual for clues?) because the evidence reveals Kosgoda Tharaka was transferred to Paliyagoda police station on the orders of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The online newspaper, ‘Sri Lanka Brief’ has published the President’s order, dated 12 May 2021, that had been submitted to the court by the victim’s lawyers.
With 19th amendment police department was made to perform their duties independently for the safety, well-being and the interest of the citizens. The IGP did not have to act as a puppet of the president. But with 20th amendment those powers have been withdrawn. That may well be the reason even Inspector General of Police C.D. Wickramaratne could not stop the killings.
Rajapaksa regimes have some worst history of killing suspects in police custody or prisons: Welikada Prison murder in 2012 (27 were killed many more injured), Anuradhapura Prison (2 killed 6 wounded) and Mahara prison murders (11 killed more than 100 wounded) in 2020. Although the supreme courts had previously issued some orders for the safety of the prisoners, extrajudicial killings continue with the impunity. Extrajudicial killing usually happens in battlefields or war situation but in Sri Lanka this has become a norm under Rajapaksas’ regimes.
Rajapaksas are clever politicians: they know what to tell the idiots, how to please corrupt Buddhist monks (this does not apply to honest, dedicated Buddhist monks), how to wash away their sins by visiting to the chief incumbents of the temples etc. Easter Sunday terror attacks on 21 April 2019 were ‘blessings’ for Rajapaksas to come back to power with 69 millioan votes. During the presidential election in 2019 they said they want to come back to power to ensure the safety of the people, safety of the nation. They knew how to control and unleash Covid-19 for political gains, by relaxing travel restrictions and social distancing rules during the Sinhala New year in last April they let the virus to spread rapidly.
Covid-19 infectious rates were well controlled before the last Sinhala New Year festival. They knew the only way to shut up people demanding justice for the victims of Easter Sunday Terror attack including the Colombo Cardinal is unleashing the Covid19. Now nobody talks much about it with the rising figures of deaths and infections so does of the extra judicial killings. They don’t care how many people going to die when they have political advantages. For example, the deaths tall since April is much higher than the people were killed in the Easter Sunday terror attack, it was 269. Covid deaths since 1st April to 21st May 562. On 1st April reported new cases were 211 and deaths 3, by 19 May new cases 3623 and deaths on the 21st, 44. Around 95% of those from the ‘New Year cluster’.
It is time for the people to join against extrajudicial killings, for your own safety!
Buddhist1 / May 24, 2021
There is no point in expecting justice from this Family owned Government. Wait until this government falls. Under the new government establish a Presidential inquiry and bring all the police officers, OICs, and those who gave orders to kill the persons who were in custody when this government is in power. Take it to the top. If the former President can be found fault with not taking action against the Easter bombing, then the present President can also be found guilty for the deaths of those who were in prison custody and killed by police.
Ranjan / May 26, 2021
Good dream but don’t be stupid. Current criminals were the previous criminals too Mara and Gota. Maithripala alias Gamarala and Ranil alias Topiya pledged to punish those criminals during the presidential election campaign. What happened when they came to power. Both Maithripala and Ranil (Gamarala and Topiya) did everything to protect Mara and Gota. Their corruptions and cheating like Central Bank robbery made a marvellous path for Gata and Mara to come back to power with 69million votes.
Do yo believe Sajith Premadasa going to punish them?
Simon / May 24, 2021
The Lawyers defending the two suspects in Police custody and the BASL knew or had prior information of the “Planned” assassinations of “Kosgoda Tharaka” and “Uru Juva”. It was creditable of all of them to have contacted the IGP and other relevant Authorities of the impending brutal killings of the two suspects. Now the question is: What action must be taken by the Defense Lawyers and the BSAL? The two suspects were in Police custody by a “Court Order”. Hasn’t the Courts got to ask the “Police” to produce the “Suspects” in Courts? If Police fail, the Courts must move to take action against the Police. Aren’t the Defense Lawyers and the BASL keep silent on the matter or proceed immediately to move in and demand justice for the victims? These are the matters that must receive the attention of the custodians of the Justice system – The Legal Community and the Human Rights Organizations. These two cases must not be allowed to be added to the list of those “Killed” while in Police Custody and await to write again and again filling print Media columns.
leelagemalli / May 25, 2021
To my sesens, Kosgoda Tharaka or others that were subjected to POLICE extra juidicial killings during the last few months, compared to the high crime acts of Rajapakshes would have been released, if any good JUDGEs were born to SRILANKEN soil.
it is public secret, not a single person in Rajaakshe family deserved to be RELEASED from their high crime investigations (to the manner they have been up to – NIDOSKOTA NIDHAHAS- exonerations )…
Judges, lawyers community AND other authorities in lanken JUSTICE sytem, this is over to you… you got your education for free, your REACTIONs today being PRO to high criminals is even worst than the cruel act of sons towards their own mothers.
They would kill us, kill our friends, in the near future, but our fight is for a better srilanka with equal rights to all as citizens. No matter what barrier we have, so long we are srilankens, we should be treated with the same spoon. !
Ranjan / May 26, 2021
Do not expect the Sri Lankan courts to punish them. Judges are now puppets under Gota’s iron hand. As Anura Kumara, JVP leader, said, ‘if you vote to pass 20th amendment remember MPs you are going to face a situation like having a sword above your head. Not only the MPs including the selfish Muslim MPs voted for the 20 now have swords above their heads but also the judges.
As long as selfish majority idiots votes for criminals, as you know there are many convicted criminals in Gota-Mara government, never expect justice for victims of the government.
a14455 / May 24, 2021
No pity for these murderers and drug dealers. We can’t afford to be another Columbia or Mexico.
leelagemalli / May 25, 2021
Ironically u support?Mafia boss and his drug kin pin none other than that Kudu Lanza. But ur mouth or other end issue this? Total contradictory. Are u at all normal living being? Alone auditor general a report on Lanza income sheet can prove it prima facile but ur kind of stupid people obviously see no difference 😉😉😉😉😉😉😉
Ajith / May 24, 2021
They can’t do it another way because they only knew on that way. What a shame the country allow for more than five decades to elect and select to run this country. Yesterday they, today we, tomorrow you?
Thanga / May 24, 2021
There is a proverb in Tamil which says why expect a bitter gourd to germinate after you planted a bottle gourd seed! Likewise, what do you expect from the Rajapaksa regime which has a sordid history of summarily executing their perceived enemies?
One fine example is the cold-blooded murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge, Editor in Chief of the Sunday Leader. On that fateful day, Lasantha was on his way to the office when four armed assassins riding motorcycles blocked Wickrematunge vehicle before breaking open his window and shooting him. Wickremesinghe had been on Amnesty International’s endangered list since 1998 when anti-tank shells were fired on his house. His assassins were identified as military intelligence personnel.
Lasantha had a premonition that he is on the hit list of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The former had exposed the corruption behind the purchases of MIG fighter planes from Ukraine. Prior to his death, Lasantha wrote an editorial claiming inter-alia “No other profession calls on its practitioners to lay down their lives for their art save the armed forces and, in Sri Lanka, journalism. electronic and print-media institutions have been burnt, bombed, sealed and coerced. Countless journalists have been harassed, threatened and killed. It has been my honour to belong to all those categories and now especially the last.”
Mahila / May 25, 2021
Buddhist 1, I take the point made by you. My concern is how many more will be killed and tortured. Will there be anyone left, waiting till the government falls.
If I may take this opportunity to comment on these horrendous killings.
There is a pattern emerging from these killings and not much deviation. The point is that any officer, small or big, significant or otherwise person/authority (IGP/Secretary Defence/OIC/Director CID/TID/CDB), taking a remanded person, in judicial custody to investigate a crime further, is legally responsible to ensure the safety/security of those prisoners.
If harm comes by to those prisoners and in callous episodes such as this, person authorizing removal of the prisoner from the custody of the remand is responsible and culpable totally and absolutely.
So, the IGP/Director CID/TID/CDB, should be held responsible for the lapse.
They should be stood down, forthwith for “incompetence ineptitude and dereliction” of duty and not taking sufficient precaution to security against such reprehensible methods of execution. If not why not?
They should be home with maximum half pay to sustain only their family from starvation. It is still better deal than what Shani Abeysekera, for what he is blamed for!
Mahila / May 25, 2021
Buddhist 1, Continued Part 2
Or if it is due to the chain of command up or down? We need a scalp! Even a minion or is it a failed Sri Lankan state? I do not want to think so.
“Right to life”, enshrined in the articles of the constitution, appears not being applicable currency.
Or is it that SL is no more interested in upholding the constitutional rights of the SL citizens. If so, interesting to note that we take so much pride in oath taking ceremony all the while, starting from the top to the lowest, peon and police constable at much expense.
If that’s the case, we have a heavy price to pay come August/September 2021 and HRC review; or do we care at all about human life, safety and security, which is used to only win electoral votes.
It is indeed a big deal, being a Buddhist country and one who have almost abolished capita punishment in the judicial lexicon, attributing to compassion.
Definitely some are not following the Buddhist precepts, although the government is totally committed to it. Very strange indeed.
Mahila / May 25, 2021
Missed out sentence in the previous comment,
“Is the tail wagging the Head?”
Good Sense / May 25, 2021
I am fascinated by a comment written in Sinhala on the same subject as a comment to a YouTube video. I am almost reproducing it as follows: “The date 13th of November 1989 too is within the era of before January 2015. On that date too the extra judicial killing was committed cremating alive after shooting. (YouTube statements of eyewitnesses) Why? He was the master-mind of the 1966 lavatory coup. Alas! The Government of the day focused on their political opponents and he fell off the radar. Though he was found guilty for the 1971 insurrection he was given a full pardon for whatever reason. Sri Lanka is the only country that permits a person to wage war against it three times whereas in other countries they are judicially executed in the unsuccessful first attempt itself. Obviously, “Sucharitha” thought enough is enough and the system is weak and hence the order to bump off. The fault lies not only with the executive for by passing the judiciary and there is no further comment for the fear of having to go on Ramanayake Avenue. “Yahapalanaya” is the other extreme permitting 04/21 carnage. The country needs a middle path.”
ReginaldShamalPerera / May 25, 2021
In fact, pretty much every Sri Lankan President has been involved in extra judicial killings since Independence. It is so common that it should legitimized and be made part of the constitution.
Let’s see……other than DS, Dudley and to a certain extent DBW all other Presidents have had murder as part of their legacy.
Sirimavo killed youth, JR killed Tamils, Premdasa killed University kollo, Chandrika killed, MR had white vans and now GR kills.
ReginaldShamalPerera / May 25, 2021
All our His Murderous Excellencies have blood on their hands.