The controversial Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCOI) on political victimization has aided and abetted efforts by the Directorate of Military Intelligence to obtain copies of files on highly sensitive investigations conducted by the Criminal Investigation Department, authoritative sources told Colombo Telegraph.
The PCOI last week issued an order that files pertaining to cases before the Commission should be obtained from law enforcement agencies for perusal. The case files are being copied by CID officials in the building. Military intelligence officials who have no role to play in the work of the Presidential Commission are being dispatched to retrieve the copies, Colombo Telegraph learns. Sources told Colombo Telegraph that the files were handed over to army intelligence officers by an OIC in the Homicide Branch of the CID.
Case files pertaining to the murder of rugby player Wasim Thajudeen, the assassination of journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge, the abduction of Prageeth Ekneligoda and the case involving the abduction and murder of 11 boys by a navy intelligence gang among others have already been copied and removed from the CID, Colombo Telegraph reliably learns.
Dozens of military intelligence officials have been implicated in grave crimes including murder and abduction of journalists and political dissidents between 2005-2015, including the assassination of Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, the abduction and torture of journalist Keith Noyahr and the daytime attack on Rivira Editor Upali Tennakoon only days after Wickrematunge’s murder. Commanding Officer of a military intelligence corps operating out of the Giritale Army Camp Lt. Colonel Shammi Kumararatne and eight other army intelligence personnel under his command have been indicted by the Attorney General in the High Court over the abduction of Prageeth Eknaligoda, who was a vocal critic of the Rajapaksa regime.
The Directorate of Military Intelligence which won protection through President Maithripala Sirisena during the Yahapalanaya Government when these cases were under investigation by the CID, has regularly stonewalled efforts by CID detectives to obtain documents in the possession of the military about the criminal suspects on their payroll, Colombo Telegraph can reveal. For years, the DMI has been intent on retrieving information gathered by the CID over the course of their investigations into high profile cases that have implicated army intelligence officers.
Now, the military intelligence officers implicated in these grave crimes have found a powerful new friend in the current occupant of President’s House, who has himself been named as the commander of the 2005-2014 era death squads and has been trying to evade accountability for the same atrocities for five years. In the Ekneligoda abduction case, at least two former intelligence officials have provided confessions before a magistrate that Gotabaya Rajapaksa who then served as Defence Secretary, gave the order for Prageeth Ekneligoda’s abduction but the current President was never even questioned about this connection by the AG before the case went to trial late last year.
Colombo Telegraph learns that the information contained in these case files will be valuable to military intelligence officials who will need alibis and other cover from their senior officers to evade justice for their crimes. The information contained in the CID files will also reveal which document trails will need to be manipulated or destroyed in order to stall the investigations and prevent prosecutions of army intelligence officials.
The Presidential Commission that aided this leak of sensitive case files to army intelligence was appointed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to scrutinize ongoing criminal cases in order to determine whether investigations into several Rajapaksa aligned military top brass and former Rajapaksa era officials had been politically motivated by the Yahapalanaya Government.
The PCOI, comprising judges and officials gravely compromised by their links to President Rajapaksa and his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa who holds office as Prime Minister, is already being used by the new Government to stall ongoing trials involving senior military officers including former Navy Commander Wasantha Karannagoda and others.
Sending a clear signal to the Attorney General’s Department and the judiciary, under whose supervision investigations into these key cases are proceeding, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has taken bold steps to promote intelligence officials implicated in hunting journalists and political opponents during his tenure as head of the defence establishment.
His first spate of army promotions included a promotion for Prabath Bulathwatte, the main suspect in the Keith Noyahr abduction case and alleged leader of the death squad that presided over Wickrematunge’s murder, Tennakoon’s assault and other attacks on journalists and “traitors to the motherland” when the Rajapaksa Government was last in power.
Major Bulathwatte was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in February 2020.
The new President also took steps to promote D.K.P Dassanayake a former naval intelligence commander as Rear Admiral. Dassanayake who has been indicted by a High Court Trial at Bar on charges of abducting, illegally detaining and murdering 11 young Tamil and Muslim men in 2008-2009, is yet to be suspended from active duty despite being an accused on trial in a high profile criminal case.
Former Navy Commander Wasantha Karannagoda who serves as an advisor to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has been evading summons issued by the High Court for the past month, but is regularly seen at Government functions in decked out in full military regalia. President Sirisena promoted Karannagoda as Admiral of the Fleet while he had been named as a suspect in the navy abductions case by the AG and the CID. (By Janakie Mediwake)