21 November, 2018

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Under Pressure From Sirisena, Army Intelligence Officer Involved In Lasantha Murder Released On Bail

The independence of the courts appears to have been affected ever since President Maithripala Sirisena launched a verbal attack on the arresting and remanding of army intelligence officers, with even Mount Lavinia Magistrate Mohammed Shahabdeen falling under pressure and releasing Army Intelligence Officer Premananda Udalagama on bail despite his involvement in the assassination of Editor of Sunday Leader Lasantha Wickrematunge.

Sirisena

Sirisena

Udalagama was released on a cash bail of Rs. 50,000 and three sureties of Rs. 500,000 each.

The court order comes just weeks since President Maithripala Sirisena launched a verbal attack against the arresting and remanding of Army Intelligence Officers who have been involved in various criminal activities including being linked to murder.

On October 14, Udalagama was also released on bail by the Gampaha Magistrate Kaweendra Nanayakkara even though he was identified as the culprit who attacked former editor of the Rivira Newspaper, Upali Tennakoon.

In July, the CID arrested Udalagama in connection to the Wickrematunge murder. The Army Intelligence Officer was also identified as the person who abducted Dias, the slain editor’s driver. Udalagama had kidnapped Dias because in his intoxicated state, Dias had gone around making allegations to the effect that former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa was behind Wickrematunge’s assassination.

Wickrematunge, a strong critic of the government under former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was killed in January 2009 while he was on his way to work.

In an article published in the Colombo Telegraph in December 2014, Ahimsa Wickrematunge, daughter of Wickrematunge said, “it is no secret who was behind his death and who gave out the orders. It’s public knowledge. And though I speak from a victim’s standpoint, I am also trying to speak out as a Sri Lankan who is greatly concerned for the welfare of her country. And irrespective of the history, politics and differences my family has had with this current regime, I only want what is best for my country and my people.”
“Even though I lost a father I know I’m just one amongst the hundreds of thousands that lost loved ones to the war. My heart goes out especially to the tamil people who continue to grieve in silence. Its time for us all to have some accountability.”
“Just like every right-thinking citizen my heart hurts for my country and my people. Let’s do what’s best for our children and our country. The choice to dispense with these blights on society and democracy is in our hands,” she added.
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    Let us objectively look into the whole episode of the Presidential expletive. If it is to stifle the judiciary, law enforcement and the investigative processes by changing the trend he need not come out with all this. He could have passed a quiet message. Why did he not do that and come out in the open cheaply?

    To my mind it is simple. “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”. He knows that. In the first aniversary celebration of his Presidency he told openly that the same fate of Mahatma Gandhi, SWRD Bandaranaike is awaiting him. At that point he had nothing to safeguard. Perhaps he wanted to go down in history as a matyr. But now the story is different. The bravado of his son is affecting his stance. He knows that once he is gone that would be the end of his good for nothing son. He knows a few things. The way that military personnel were affected one of them would play the role Godse or a Somarama. What then? The best way is to pass the wrath or the curse to Ranil, who in his smart ways is outwitting him which is irritating him. That is the most probable cause of his utterly unpresidential outbirst.

    There is another angle. Judicial and independent investigative authorities need not pay attention to a bark in the sky. They seem to follow the cry of the wolf. The only explanation I can think is that in addition to his bark he did pass a quiet message. “You step down now. After the storm has passed I will put you into a higher pedestal.”

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