The leaked tape of a conversation between former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Lasantha Wickrematunge was received by Colombo Telegraph four days ago. Whilst Colombo Telegraph was in the process of analysing the contents of the leak, many web sites carried the now infamous tape yesterday. Colombo Telegraph received this mail sent via a guerrilla email address to “Capture” the footage for publishing.
There is no gainsaying that the voices belong to Mahinda and Lasantha, though it cannot be ruled out whether several conversations were pieced together. Not withstanding that the doctoring of the tape with a hissing noise in several places to cover the words “Commander”at best a poor attempt. This has been deliberately done to confuse the listener. The reference to Commander could be from the Army, Navy or Air Force. But a careful study makes it clear that the Commander in question is from the Navy.
It does not take a Sherlock Holmes to surmise that the leak came from Mahinda. Mahinda initiated the call and he taped it. Colombo Telegraph will give reasons for the leak coming eight years after the murder of the Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge.
Those who followed the early days after Lasantha’s murder must recall the other inspired leak of Mahinda via Victor Ivan, Editor of Ravaya. Mahinda at the time had hinted that Lasantha was leaking UNP secrets to him. Probably to show that the murdered Editor was not to be trusted. The tapes were finally leaked. EIGHT YEARS later. Mahinda probably thinks it’s advantageous to him at this stage. The reader must ponder why it is advantageous to Mahinda at present. Read on….
The conversation itself is edited prior to leaking as one can plainly hear. The important part of the conversation refers to some procurement by the military. It appears that the Navy Commander of that time Wasantha Karannagoda was the person who has been reluctant to talk to the Sunday Leader after the newspaper had referred to some tender in a previous issue. Lasantha also speaks of “him”( Navy Commander) perhaps thought that the article was a part of a conspiracy between Gen. Sarath Fonseka and the military to discredit the Navy Commander. Lasantha also refers to Siri Fernando, as the person behind the tender. Big Siri is the brother of Lalin Fernando, a former confidante of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
But listen carefully to the tape and it is clear that it was Mahinda who calls Lasantha. Someone gets Lasantha on the phone and passes on the instrument to Mahinda. But for a moment let us forget the gist of the conversation and ponder.
The conversation took place somewhere in May 2008. Mahinda says as per the tape, that he returned from Oxford the previous week. It was in May 2008 that Mahinda visited Oxford. So this conversation was a full seven months before Lasantha was murdered. During this period Gen Fonseka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Karannagoda and Mahinda were a close knit unit. Gen Fonseka became persona non grata only by end of May 2009, a full year after this conversation. Some sections of the conversation where references were made to the Navy Commander has deliberately been obliterated. But Gen. Fonseka’s name can be heard. The former President before disconnecting the phone invites the slain Editor to visit him.
Lasantha, during the conversation takes up the issue of corruption within Mahinda’s government and advices him to do something to minimize it. The late Editor states that he wrote about corruption even during the short lived Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government. He also says that there needs to be a coalition government between the UNP and SLFP, if the country is to prosper. Remember…. he said this in 2008 !!! Now let us analyze the whole scenario of this leaked tape.
It had to be Mahinda who taped this conversation. He said as much to Victor Ivan the Editor of Ravaya just days after Lasantha’s murder. The purpose, reported at the time, was to show that Lasantha was leaking UNP strategies to him. Why? To portray the late Editor to be someone who could not be trusted. To make people feel less of him and thereby treat his murder lightly. Some including fellow journalists did think so as a result. But not so the international media who kept this murder on the boil.
Why leak this at this time? Eight long years after the murder?
Does Mahinda or his close associates know something that the others do not to do so at this time?
Could Lasantha have recorded this conversation?
If so whose possession was it to be leaked now?
What is the advantage to Lasantha or the murder investigation in leaking this tape?
Who created the ghost email to forward this tape?
Why create a ghost email?
It is a well known fact that the investigations into Lasantha’s murder was suppressed by the Police and the TID under the Rajapaksa government. Four people have died or been killed to cover up for this murder. Jesudasan, Jayamanna, and two young tamil youth from Vavuniya. Lasantha’s note book lying on the passenger seat taken over by the Police immediately after from the murder scene had gone missing but recently it was reported the CID had through camera footage (taken by crime scene photographers) tracked down some vehicle numbers which led to valuable evidence to uncover the killings of the two young tamil youth from Vavuniya. Murdered simply to point the finger of suspicion towards the LTTE. Not many knew that the late Editor was left handed and could write easily whilst driving. The TID too reported to Courts that the LTTE were the prime suspects. After the change in government no less than a former IGP has been questioned about the missing note book.
With the fall of the Rajapaksa government and with the suppressed cases being handed over to fresh teams within the CID, NIB, new evidence has been thrown up. Thajudeen‘s case, Ekneligoda‘s case have now been classified as murders. A former DIG from the police, extremely close to the former Secretary Gotabaya and another senior officer have been remanded consequently. These officers were arrested after the fall of the Rajapaksa government. Thajudeen’s was classified as an accident and Ekneligoda as missing, during the Rajapaksa Presidency. NOW THEY ARE MURDERS.
One suspects that there must be headway similarly into the investigation into Lasantha Wickrematunge’s murder. Prosecutors have informed court that there is definite evidence to show that Military Intelligence was behind Lasantha’s murder. Though evidence to the contrary has not been found it is moot to say that those who rode motor bikes to kill Lasantha did so on orders of someone high up. They did not know Lasantha. The late Editor was a high profile figure and his murder was going to result in a political fall out. To whom? Isn’t it obvious? In fact elementary. So whoever who gave orders to kill would have had knowledge of or the assurance that the political fall out could be managed. Who could guarantee that? If not, who would take that risk?
It is in this back drop one has to look at the leaked tapes. Was the tape leaked to show that former President and Lasantha were friends? Why do such after eight years? The discussions in the leaked tapes do not reveal any secrets. In fact Lasantha speaks of an article that had been published and someone not wishing to talk to a Sunday Leader journalist to give his version. The rest is advice to the former President to curb corruption. Any journalist worth his salt will speak to any source, be it a President, Rapist or Terrorist. That is not the sole privilege of people within a government.
The only conclusion is that the former President or his acolytes leaked this to show that there was a friendship between Mahinda and Lasantha. Obviously there appears to have been such a friendship. That was seven months before Lasantha was killed. Mahinda and Gen Fonseka too were friends up to May 2009. But that did not stop Gen Fonseka being arrested after a few months, by Mahinda. The timing shows that the Mahinda camp knows something is brewing and needs an aside such as this. If this was done to show that Lasantha was Mahinda’s friend and therefore he would not harm him, it failed miserably. Recall how Lasantha was repeatedly assaulted, hauled to Court, harassed and threatened ? Where was his powerful friend then?
Is there some new evidence into Lasantha’s murder that has prompted Mahinda band wagon to react in this way? We will know sooner than later.
We publish below the “Capture” tape in full: