Colombo Telegraph

SriLankan Airlines: Hushed Up ‘Human Smuggling’ Case Resurfaces

A detected human smuggling case involving several Ground Staff of SriLankan Airlines at Colombo’s Bandaranaiyake International Airport Katunayake which went underground in the year 2014 has resurfaced, Colombo Telegraph reliably learns.

Pradeepa Kekulawala

Investigation reports submitted by Sajith Winodahewa Security Manager (Docs.Check & Investigations) and Security Investigation Supervisor Susantha Mawela to Head of Security Major Gen P. Chandrawansa into the incident which was conducted by the Security Division of SriLankan Airlines is currently in the possession of Colombo Telegraph.

Surprisingly despite the detection made on the 9th March 2014, no action to date has been taken and all alleged conspirators to the crime are currently still employed by the national carrier.

In the security investigative report SriLankan Airlines Check in Agent Tharaka Lakmal (C 8887) had checked in two passengers bound for Riyadh on Sri Lankan Airlines. The two passengers Mathytharsan Mahadevan and Danushka Iddhamal (counterfeit name) were holding forged documents and were to travel onward to Milan Italy from Riyadh.

Other staff on duty at the check in counter who was hauled into to CID office for questioning was Check in Officer Sampath Fernandopulle (17769) and Check in Agent Shalitha Jayaweera (18592).

However more startling evidence surfaced during the investigation when Airport Service Officer T.M.D. Dinesh Milinda Peiris (17818) was exposed personally visiting Departure Gate 11 of the departing flight and caught on CCTV helping to facilitate the two passengers leave on the said flight UL 269 bound to Riyadh.

In a further startling report he is stated as saying that he was aware that they were holding forged travel documents.

The investigative reports further elaborates that flight UL 269 was scheduled to depart at 14:15 hours and the allocated departure gate for the flight was originally Gate 3.

At BIA departure Gates 1,2,3 & 4 are located downstairs whilst all other gates are located upstairs with connecting aero bridges.

Airport Service Officer T.M.D. Dinesh Milinda Peiris was assigned duty at departure Gate 3.

However due to an experienced delay to SriLankan Airlines flight UL 269 the departure gate was changed to Gate 11, which was located upstairs with new staff assigned to facilitate the departure.

The staff assigned to Gate 11 was H.D. Madhavee Madhushika Airport Services Agent (C 9376) as the Gate Controller and Ms. Shyami Bhagya Amarasingha Airport Service Agent (19133) had functioned as the Gating Officer.

With all plans now bungled, Airport Service Officer T.M.D. Dinesh Milinda Peiris who was assigned duty at departure Gate 3, had hurriedly arrived to Departure Gate 11 and was observed checking the computer system at the departure gate. He then personally was on the lookout for the two passengers named Mathytharsan Mahadevan and Danushka Iddhamal. After having located them he himself had checked their travel documents one more time and had eventually handed it back to them to proceed on the flight.

Shortly thereafter according to a report filed by Suranga Fernando SriLankan Airlines Security Supervisor (Documents Check), he states “While I was on duty covering flight UL 207 at Departure Gate 2, I got information from Susantha Mawela (SriLankan Airlines Investigation Supervisor) regarding two suspicious passengers travelling on UL 269 at Gate 11. Both of us proceeded and finally apprehended two passengers named Mathytharsan Mahadevan and Danushka Iddhamal who were travelling to Milan Rome via Riyadh with forged documents. We handed the two passengers to the CID.”

According to a report filed by Susantha Mawela (Security Investigations Supervisor) he stated that on their way to the CID, passenger Danushka Iddhamal had informed him that his real name is Stanley Kanistan Fernando. According to Danushka Iddhamal his agent named ‘Ayya’ had instructed him to go to Check in Counter number 6 and then to Immigration counter number 2.

This report also now implicates the Immigration Officer who was on duty on the 9th of March 2014 during the hours 3-5 pm around the time the two passengers travelling on forged documents passed through Immigration.

Security Investigations Supervisor’s report also concludes to say that the CID Officer had requested that Gating Staff Madhavee Madhushka and Airport Service Officer T.M.D. Dinesh Milinda Peiris were summoned to provide statements.

Whilst Gating Staff Madhavee Madhushka had reported to the CID Office to record her statement Airport Service Officer T.M.D. Dinesh Milinda Peiris had refused to do so.

It is astonishing to note that Pradeepa Kekulawela the SriLankan Airlines’ Head of Human Resources continues to let reported incidents as such go underground.

Despite CID intervention into the two passengers travelling with forged documents, it is also a breach on the part of the Check in Agents of SriLankan Airlines to be involved in such crimes.

Airport Service Officer T.M.D. Dinesh Milinda Peiris is also in breach of leaving his assigned position at Gate 3 and going up all the way to Gate 11 to check on to passengers travelling with forged documents.

This was highlighted in both submitted security personnel’s reports.

During the investigation conducted by SriLankan Airlines, the viewing of the CCTV footage identifies Airport Service Officer T.M.D. Dinesh Milinda Peiris entering the Departure Gate 11, checking the two passengers’ documents and handing it back to them for onward travel.

This is despite Airport Service Officer T.M.D. Dinesh Milinda Peiris also stating that “‘yes’ they were travelling on forged documents,” in his report too.

A senior airline professional working at the Colombo Airport Katunayake speaking on condition of anonymity said “Human smuggling has been a racket that has been going on for years. Facilitating travelers to go through the airport involves huge sums of rupees. The market rate at present is Rs 3 million. That is because many staff such as the Check in Agent, Supervisor, Manager, Immigration Officers and Departure Gate Staff all have to be paid handsomely for a safe passage.” (By Jacqueline Senanayake)

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