As the Sri Lankan Government scrambles to address major outstanding issues of war-time accountability ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November and a scheduled visit of UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Navi Pillay in August, a senior police official who allegedly spearheaded the murder of five students in Trincomalee in 2006 has been promoted as DIG and returned to the Eastern Province, Colombo Telegraph learns.
DIG Kapila Jayasekara who assumed office as Ampara District DIG in April this year served 18 years in the Special Task Force and was SSP in charge of Trincomalee when the high profile murders of five Tamil youth took place in January 2006.
Seven plus years later, on June 23, 2013, DIG Jayasekera was appointed DIG Trincomalee, just days before President Mahinda Rajapaksa issued a proclamation constituting the Northern Provincial Council and announcing an election in the Province scheduled for September. DIG Jayasekera’s transfer was a strategic move ahead of the northern election, informed sources told the Colombo Telegraph.
As recently as April 2013, DIG Jayasekera had been appointed DIG Ampara and had barely served two months in the post.
12 STF personnel including an Assistant Superintendent of Police have been arrested and remanded in connection with the murder of the ‘Trinco Five’. However DIG Jayasekera, then SSP has not been implicated in the controversial murders despite his commanding position during the highly controversial killings. In its report of April 2, 2006, the University Teachers for Human Rights in Jaffna, the activist group said the killing of five Tamil youths at the Dutch Bay beach in Trincomalee on January 2 had been masterminded by the Police Superintendent of the area, Kapila Jayasekera.
“Based on information from within the security forces, our sources have identified Kapila Jayasekera, superintendent of police, Trincomalee, as having planned the outrage. Jayasekera, we learn, was earlier with the STF in Ampara, and was there during the Kanjirankuda incident in October 2002, when seven civilians were killed by STF fire (Bulletin No.29). Our contacts said that the recent executions by the STF in Trincomalee were carried out by Inspector of Police Perera. Our contacts believe the STF men were inside the trishaw from which the bomb was thrown, and which subsequently went in the direction of Fort Frederick where the STF men are said to have been quartered. The police truck in which they came to commit the crime had been parked in the old police station near the post office, quite close to where the youths were killed. The role of the police at a high level is also indicated by the fact that even after the magistrate released the bodies to the parents, the police unit at the hospital tried to prevent them, demanding that they sign a false declaration stating that their sons were Tigers. Policemen are simple persons taught to do a straightforward routine job. When they play up and do something utterly stupid, it means that they have received unprofessional orders from the top and are lost,” said the UTHR (J)’s special report No. 20 called ‘Terrorism, Counter Terrorism And Challenges To Human Rights Advocacy’ released in April 2006, just three months after the murders. The same report charges that SP Jayasekera who had previously served in the STF had been present during the Kanjirankuda incident in the Thirukkovil area where Tamils engaged in a protest demonstration outside a STF camp were fired upon.
The sudden decision to prosecute suspects for the alleged murders follows a special reference to the ‘Trinco Five’ in High Commissioner Pillay’s report to the 22nd session of the UNHRC. There is no indication why the Government decided to move on the prosecutions at this point but sources said the sudden decision might be motivated by news that Pillay will be in Colombo in August and the upcoming CHOGM 2013 in the run up to which the Secretariat is applying some pressure on the Government to work on Human Rights challenges.
In October 2006, a few months after the brutal murders, Presidential Advisor and brother Basil Rajapaksa told then US Ambassador Robert O. Blake that the Government was aware of the fact that the STF had committed the killings. It is not
“We know the STF did it, but the bullet and gun evidence shows that they did not. They must have separate guns when they want to kill someone. We need forensic experts. We know who did it, but we can’t proceed in prosecuting them,” Rajapaksa told Ambassador Blake it was revealed in a Wikileaks Cable.
Ambassador Blake wrote “He (Basil Rajapaksa) said that the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) has been sufficiently trained in human rights, but that the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) has been credibly implicated in harassment and human rights violations. ‘We have few complaints in areas of SLA presence, but we have a problem with the SLN,’ Rajapaksa explained. ‘We didn’t expect them to work with civilians and they weren’t trained.” He said the President has prioritized human rights training for the Navy. Rajapaksa added that with a new law requiring that police notify the magistrate before they can detain a suspect for longer than 24 hours, ‘We have minimized harassment by the police.’
Five Tamil youths were shot dead at point blank range at the Dutch Bay beach near the Dockyard Road-Fort Frederick Road intersection in Trincomalee on 2 January, 2006.