By Donaldson Tan and Muheed Jeeran –
It is believed that Sri Lanka Member of Parliament Dumindha Silva is in Singapore. Silva is suspected to be responsible for the murder of Presidential Advisor Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra. According to the Sunday Leader, Silva was discharged from the Sri Jayawardenepura hospital and flown to Singapore for treatment last November. Dr SK Gamage, director of the Sri Jayewardenepura Hospital, said Silva was discharged on the request of relatives who wanted to take him overseas for treatment.
Lakshman was a Member of Parliament for the Colombo District from 1994 to 2000. In 2005, he was appointed Adviser (Trade Unions) to President Mahinda Rajapaksa for one term and was subsequently re-appointed for another term in 2010. Silva was elected Member of Parliament for the Colombo District in 2010. He defected from the United National Party (UNP) to the UPFA in November 2007. He is believed to be a close associate of the Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
Almost six months have passed since Lakshman’s death which took place in broad daylight in the Colombo district during the Kotikawatta Mulleriyawa local election. It was reported that the slain former MP was sprayed with more than forty bullets in his chest. Ten suspects were identified by nine witnesses at an identification parade held by the Colombo Magistrate Court in January. Three of the identified suspects were police constables who worked as Silva’s official bodyguards. To-date, sixteen suspects have been identified.
Political rivalry is believed to have triggered the incident. Both Lakshman and Silva had their favourites running for office at the Kotikawatta Mulleriyawa local election. Lakshman backed Prasanna Solangarachchi who was the former Chairman of the Kotikawatta Mulleriyawa while Silva backed Sumudu Rukshan. What lies at the centre of the political controversy behind the Lakshman murder was that both Lakshman and Silva are members of the ruling coalition United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and that any action the government takes might spark a political divide within the ruling coalition.
Informed sources told the Colombo Telegraph that Lakshman had complained to President Rajapaksa that Silva had given a contract to the underworld to murder him. The President subsequently ordered the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) to investigate the alleged murder plot. Two gangsters in police custody then confirmed the murder plot. Three weeks prior to his death, Lakshman had met two senior lawyers with a view to initiate legal proceedings against Silva based on the CID investigation report.
Last week, Colombo Additional Magistrate Prasanna Alwis directed the CID to produce details regarding Silva’s whereabouts. The Magistrate also directed the CID to submit an investigation report to explain their failure to arrest Silva. The directives were issued after a submission by Senior Counsel Tirantha Walaliyadde who represented Lakshman’s family.
However, Chief Inspector Merryl Ranjan (Officer-in-Charge of the CID) informed the court that the CID will only take necessary action, when they received the Attorney-General’s directive on this regard. The Chief Inspector also added that the CID requires the Attorney-General’s directive on the matter before it can request to issue an arrest warrant on Silva via the International Criminal Police Organisation (ICPO). As a result, the Court rejected Senior Counsel Walaliyadde’s application to issue such a warrant. The extra-ordinary delay of Silva’s arrest has frustrated many supporters and members of the public in Sri Lanka.
*Donaldson Tan is the editor of New Asia Republic
*Muheed Jeeran is an International Political Lobbyist and Strategist
This article first appeared on New Asia Republic (NAR).