26 October, 2021

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Witch-Hunt Against CID Sleuths: Lasantha’s Daughter Seeks Intervention Of Witness Protection Authority

The daughter of slain Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge has urgently appealed to the National Authority for the Protection of Victims and Witnesses of Crimes in Sri Lanka to inquire into attempts to pervert the course of justice in investigations involving former CID Director Abeysekara and Sub-Inspector Mendis by officers of the Colombo Crimes Division (CCD).

In a letter to the Director of the Victims of Crime and Witnesses Assistance and Protection Division, set up under the guidance of the National Authority, 28-year-old Ahimsa Wickrematunge said the case against Sub Inspector Mendis who was previously attached to the CID was made up of belated, mutually inconsistent, self-contradictory statements about a murder investigation he conducted six years ago.

“Hours after his arrest, Mr. Mendis made a deposition before the Hon. Gampaha Magistrate charging that two officers of the Colombo Crime Division (CCD), Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Neville De Silva and Inspector Jagath Nishantha, coerced him1in an attempt to fabricate false evidence against former Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Director Shani Abeysekara,” the letter to the Authority explained.

Wickrematunge said that Sub Inspector Mendis had told the judge he was arrested because he refused to lie. “Witness tampering is a serious offence under the Act your division was created to enforce. Even now, over four months after Mr. Mendis made his prompt, detailed complaint under penalty of perjury, there has been no investigation of the crimes he alleges,” the letter stated.

Ahimsa Wickrematunge said that the CCD had moved with “blistering haste” to use misleading statements by witnesses in a murder trial, who waited six long years to recant their previous testimony which led to the conviction of a senior DIG and the imposition of the death penalty, as the basis to arrest SSP Abeysekera, SI Mendis and SI Nawarathna Premathilake.

All three sleuths were “state witnesses in emblematic cases of extra-judicial killings like the murder of my father, Lasantha Wickrematunge. They are distinguished CID officers whose investigations have led to the indictment or conviction of Members of Parliament, top police officers, military commanders, LTTE terrorists and other powerful people for kidnapping, torture and murder,” the slain editor’s daughter said in her letter.

“It is only because of such men that I hold the slightest hope that my father’s killers may one day be brought to justice. It pains me no end to watch them be punished for their courage,” Ahimsa Wickrematunge said.

She reminded the Director of the Witness Protection Authority that his division was tasked with ensuring that state witnesses who bring murderers to book were not persecuted at the whim of those they investigate.

“Or else, powerful people will be able to kill with impunity. Honest judges, journalists, politicians, police officers or ordinary citizens cannot help to put killers behind bars if they must live in fear of retaliation from the state,” the letter noted.

Wickrematunge urged the Authority to act before more evidence was doctored against the CID officers.

She urged the Authority to use its powers to review the deposition made by SI Mendis before the Gampaha Magistrate on 4 August 2020 and the complaint he made about witness tampering. Wickrematunge called on the Authority to interview all other witnesses questioned by the CCD in connection with the Gampaha MC and find out if others were pressured to give false evidence. She also urged the Authority to seek the assistance of the Attorney General’s Department and compare records in the Gampaha Magistrate’s Court matter with their records (AG Ref: CR1/128/2013 to the facts presented by the CCD in the case against the CID investigators and “probe the glaring inconsistencies between them”.

Ahimsa Wickrematunge urged the Director of the Authority to dispel the perception that the entire machinery of the state had been illegally brought to bear against these police officers just for doing their duty.

“Mr Director, you must not turn a blind eye to this injustice,” the letter appealed.

The Witness and Victim Protection Authority of Sri Lanka was set up by an act of Parliament in 2016.

See full text of Ahimsa Wickrematunge’s letter to the Director of the Victims of Crime and Witnesses Assistance and Protection Division, SSP Ariyaratne below:

10th December 2020
BY E-MAIL

SSP M.V.R.U.N. Ariyaratne,
Director, Victims of Crime and Witnesses Assistance and Protection Division, No. 09 Mihindu Mawatha,
Colombo 12
Dear Director Ariyaratne,

Complaint: Colombo Crime Division (CCD) officers allegedly perverting the course of justice in investigations involving former CID Director Abeysekara and Sub-Inspector Mendis

On 4th August 2020, officers of the Colombo Crime Division (CCD) arrested police sub- inspector Sugath Mendis and produced him before the Gampaha Magistrates Court under criminal Case No. B 1536/20. Per the case record, the evidence against Mr. Mendis is made up of belated, mutually inconsistent, self-contradictory statements about a murder investigation he conducted six years ago (Colombo Magistrates Court Case B 3250/03/2014). These witnesses are suddenly reversing the positions they took in 2014 without any plausible reason for waiting for six years and for two changes of government before recanting their prior testimony.

Hours after his arrest, Mr. Mendis made a deposition before the Hon. Gampaha Magistrate charging that two officers of the Colombo Crime Division (CCD), Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Neville De Silva and Inspector Jagath Nishantha, coerced him[1] in an attempt to fabricate false evidence against former Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Director Shani Abeysekara. Mr. Mendis told the judge he was arrested because he refused to lie. Witness tampering is a serious offence[2] under the Act your division was created[3] to enforce. Even now, over four months after Mr. Mendis made his prompt, detailed complaint under penalty of perjury, there has been no investigation of the crimes he alleges.

In contrast, the CCD moved with blistering haste to use the belated, mutually inconsistent and self-contradictory statements of other witnesses as the sole basis to jail Mr. Mendis, Mr. Abeysekara and retired Sub-Inspector Nawarathna Premathilake, three veteran sleuths with impeccable service records and no history of misconduct. They are state witnesses in emblematic cases of extra-judicial killings like the murder of my father, Lasantha Wickrematunge. They are distinguished CID officers whose investigations have led to the indictment or conviction of Members of Parliament, top police officers, military commanders, LTTE terrorists and other powerful people for kidnapping, torture and murder. It is only because of such men that I hold the slightest hope that my father’s killers may one day be brought to justice. It pains me no end to watch them be punished for their courage.

Your division is tasked with ensuring that state witnesses who bring murderers to book are not persecuted at the whim of those they investigate. Or else, powerful people will be able to kill with impunity. Honest judges, journalists, politicians, police officers or ordinary citizens cannot help to put killers behind bars if they must live in fear of retaliation from the state.
Before more evidence is doctored, you must take, at minimum, the following steps:

1. Seek and review the deposition made by Mr. Mendis before the Gampaha Magistrate on 4th August 2020 and the complaint of witness tampering he makes therein.

2. Interview Mr. Mendis and record his statement about the events he alleges took place.

3. Interview all other witnesses questioned by the CCD in connection with Gampaha MC Case No. B 1536/20. Find out whether others were pressured to give false evidence.

4. Interview all CCD officers involved in the investigation. Learn whether any of them can corroborate an attempt to fabricate evidence or wrongfully implicate Mr. Abeysekara.

5. Verify that no precautionary, disciplinary or investigative steps have been taken to-date by the Hon. Magistrate, the CCD or police leadership based on Mr. Mendis’ witness tampering complaint. Inquire into why this complaint has thus far been ignored.

6. Seek the assistance of the Hon. Attorney General’s department. Compare their records in this matter (AG Ref: CR1/128/2013) to the “facts” presented by the CCD to the Gampaha Magistrates Court and probe the glaring inconsistencies between them.

Mr. Director, you must not turn a blind eye to this injustice. Since the President personally lashed out at Mr. Abeysekara[4] on television soon after he took office, making it clear that he was in his crosshairs, you should dispel the perception that the entire machinery of the state has since been illegally brought to bear against these police officers just because they did their duty. As the division entrusted with protecting victims and witnesses, you must do right by these detectives, who were state witnesses for decades before becoming victims of crime themselves.

Yours faithfully,

Ahimsa Wickrematunge

cc. Mr. U.K. Amarasinghe, Director General, Authority for the Protection of Victims and Witnesses cc. Mr. Dappula De Livera, Attorney General
cc. Mr. C.D. Wickremaratne, Inspector General of Police

1 CCD accused of pressuring CID sleuth to falsely implicate Shani, Daily FT (Aug 05, 2020), available at: http://www.ft.lk/front-page/CCD-accused-of-pressuring-CID-sleuth-to-falsely-implicate-Shani/44-704124

2 Section 8 of the Assistance to and Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses Act (APVCWA), No. 4 of 2015 (available at: https://www.parliament.lk/uploads/acts/gbills/english/5987.pdf).

3 Section 19 of the APVCWA established the Victims of Crime and Witnesses Assistance and Protection Division to assist and protect victims of crime and witnesses, and to investigate crimes committed against them.

4 Remarks made at the Bellanwilla Temple (Nov 24, 2019) by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, broadcast on Hiru (https://youtu.be/P8lUCYC37ic?t=1168) and Derana (Sinhala: https://youtu.be/CM4Wv48jVyE?t=458, English: https://youtu.be/lsbh-qZE9Bc?t=251).

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Latest comments

  • 15
    0

    Poor girl Ahimsa Wickrematunga is one of the many victims of murder of hundreds of children, partners, mothers who lost their loved one’s by the state terrorism under this regime. Sadly, the Buddhist community in this island is acting against to the humanity and justice.

    • 1
      13

      My dear Mr. Ajith,
      .
      Conspirators who tried to frame GR in various false allegations are flocking together.

      • 8
        0

        MY dear SCP,
        Do you deny the murder of Lasantha happened during the Rajapakse regime? Why couldn’t they find the murderer using the world best intelligence service?

      • 0
        9

        We all can sympathize with Lasantha but no one can agree with his traitor’s policies. Golden old days and new world no one agrees for traitor work. He received huge money from LTTE and LTTE very well funded for him and he gave state secrets to LTTE about our forces and due to this our brave soldiers and top brass generals also died due to this. His and Eknaligoda’s bodies should cut into four pieces and hang four corners of Sri Lanka (Heladiva)

        • 7
          0

          N. Perera, You have an exceptional mind!

          • 5
            0

            Yes, exceptionally imaginative mind. He sees things in the middle of the day and he writes them here, he is a dull boy.

          • 0
            2

            Mr. Nathan,
            .
            Yes.
            .
            N. Perera have an exceptional mind!
            .
            Are you jealous…..?

            • 1
              0

              S.C. Pukka, yes he has an exceptionally a dull mind. You are second in line to him. Keep trying a bit harder and you might be the winner in 2021. Good luck.

  • 11
    0

    When Yahapalanaya arrested Lalith Weeratunge and Anusha Pelpita, the Pohuttu crooks were crying foul saying such action would demoralize public officials, that they would be reluctant to make the necessary decisions to carry out their duties efficiently. That criticism had no merit given the facts of the matter. But in this case such a criticism is totally valid. The Rajapaksas are indeed destroying the police department – in fact the entire criminal justice system – by victimizing officers who dared to investigate them and their minions for serious crimes. These two exemplary officers are paying a heavy price for their sense of duty and commitment to serving the public interest. The silence of the corporate media is deafening.

    • 1
      11

      Mr. Ajay,
      .
      Ask Mr. Sadda Vidda Rajapakse Palanga Pathira Ambakumarage Ranjan Leo Sylvester Alphonsu. He will enlighten you.

  • 11
    0

    This young lady should be admired, for her persistence, and focus, on getting some justice for the brutal murder of her father, and for speaking out for the rights of our citizens, bravely. Silence speaks volumes, and it seems neither the last regime, nor the present one, seems open to investigations, arrests, and holding people responsible and accountable..
    The Rajapaksa’s seem to be involved in blocking MANY investigations into brutal murders, and those of missing citizens…..that alone shows complicity, and strong signs of guilt. The guilty are always afraid.

  • 9
    0

    Standing in solidarity with Ms. Ahimsa Wickrematunge. Her relentless pursuit for justice in a land governed by criminals is true patriotism just as her father was a true patriot.

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