The direct police involvement in two high profile murders have been established, but a more alarming cover up that goes right to the top has also been uncovered, sources close to the investigation said.
Colombo Additional Magistrate Nishantha Peiris on Thursday ruled that Sri Lanka’s former rugby captain Wasim Thajudeen had been murdered contrary to an earlier police claim he was the victim of a road accident.
The magistrate ordered the arrest of suspects as well as those responsible for the coverup of the murder which took place in May 2012.
The then Colombo Senior Deputy Police Inspector General Anura Senanayake had closed the case saying it was a road accident. The police chief at the time was N K Illangakoon, who is due to retire in April.
“Senanayake can be arrested for the elaborate cover up,” a source invcolved in the inestigation said. “But, what we understand is that he did that with the green light from Illangakoon which means both are equally responsible.”
The actual hitmen in the Thajudeen case are believed to be members of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s security unit headed by current Senior DIG S. M. Wickramasinghe.
President Sirisena retained Wickramasinghe as head of his security unit too despite mounting allegations of corruption as well as other allegations against him.
The slow pace of investigations in the past year had been attributed to either inefficiency or sabotage by officials of the attorney general’s department loyal to members of the former regime, but it has transpired that top brass in the police also had a role in efforts to protect Illangakoon, Wickramasinghe and Senanayake.
Contrary to claims that Illangakoon was supportive of investigations, several political parties backing the current government raised in parliament the role of the current IGP.
Deputy Minister Sujeewa Semasinghe has openly criticised Illangakoon over his attempts to protect offenders in the high profile police brutality case in Embilipitiya.
In the Thajudeen case there is evidence of police protection as well as cover for the assassins.
“We have identified the killers,” the source said. “They are currently under surveillance and as soon as we have the all clear from the higher ups, arrests can take place.”
Arrest of retired senior officers as well as those in service would reflect on Illangakoon who was the police chief at the time the murder was committed and cannot absolve himself of guilt.
Illangakoon was not the IGP when in 2006 MP Nadarajah Raviraj was assassinated, but by the time the investigations were underway, Illangakoon is accused of protecting the suspects.
Investigators have found that the state intelligence service headed by DIG Keerthi Gajanayake had paid the killers from a slush fund.
A police officer directly involved in the killing is reportedly hiding in Australia and the local police has sought the help of the Australian federal Police (AFP) to arrest and extradite Inspector Fabian Royston Toussaint.
How he got to Australia is a mystery.
It is recalled that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa himself was accused by Australian media of operating a people smuggling operation with the help of intelligence services, a charge he had denied.
However, several Sri Lankan navy officers have been arrested in connection with people smuggling operations, but they were never prosecuted by the previous regime.
The authorities have reopend a people’s smuggling investigation targeting Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, but the case has received relatively lower priority considering the more urgent cases that are currently being probed.
What is more shocking in the latest investigations is the alleged suppression of evidence under Illangakoon who is said to be keen on getting his trusted lieutenant, Senior DIG S M Wickramasinghe, as his successor so that the investigations remain dormant.
Wickramasinghe who is the senior most officer after Illangakoon is staking a claim to be the next IGP despite allegations of corruption of senior Presidential Security Division (PSD) men directly under his command.
The weapon and the get away vehicle used by the killers in the Raviraj case have been recovered by the CID which has also obtained testimony from a former intelligence operative about the assassination. (COLOMBO, Feb 28 2016=