( Prageeth Elnaligoda)
Information requested form the Sri Lanka Army by the courts in relation to abduction and disappearance of of journalist Eknaligida extremely sensitive and ultra-secret says the Army HQ. Further it has been revealed by the Island newspaper that in a letter written by Colonel E. S. Jayasinghe on behalf of the Commander of the Army Lt. Gen. Crishanthe de Silva to relevant authorities has underscored that the information sought regarding the inquiry contained code names of DMI informants.
The relevant sections of the report published by The Island follows:
The high profile case of six Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) personnel remanded in connection with the alleged disappearance of media personality Prageeth Ekneligoda on the eve of January 26, 2010 presidential polls will come up before the Avissawella High Court on Monday (Sept. 19).
They are seeking bail in the wake of the second suspect in the case, Lt. Col. Prabodha Siriwardena, Second-in-Command of the 3rd battalion (V), Military Intelligence Corps (MIC) given bail on May 27, 2016 by Homagama Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake.
The battalion is headquartered at Girithale.
The suspects are among the 3rd battalion (V) MIC personnel taken in by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) since August 24, 2015 over their alleged involvement in the disappearance at issue.
Lt. Col. Siriwardena was three personnel who were arrested on Aug. 24, 2015 at the onset of a fresh investigation. The officer was granted bail under strict conditions following proceedings at the Avissawella High Court. Retired Major and attorney-at-law Ajith Prasanna formerly of the 6SR (6th battalion, Sinha Regiment) told The Island that families of those who had been detained gathered opposite the Fort Railway station on Thursday to gain public attention to their plight. Ajith Prasanna quit active service in Oct. 1995 after being wounded near Atchuveli in the Jaffna peninsula. Addressing the media at the protest, Prasanna explained the circumstances under which the Lt. Col had been given bail. Former Southern Provincial Council member Prasanna said that proceedings in respect of Ekneligoda case were being heard at the Homagama Magistrate Court, Avissawella High Court and the Supreme Court. Lt. Col. Siriwardena was released on cash bail of Rs. 2 million along with two sureties of Rs. 6 million each.
The Magistrate also imposed a travel ban on Lt. Col. Siriwardena. Ajith Prasanna pointed out that Lt. Col. Siriwardena had been given bail after it was brought to the notice of the Supreme Court that the second suspect was a participant in a course at the Army Training Institute at Kukuleganga between January 15, 2010 and February 2, 2010.
Having perused relevant documents produced on behalf of the then suspended officer; the court cleared the way for his lawyers to seek bail from the Avissawella High Court. The State Counsel assured that the Attorney General wouldn’t oppose bail being given to the officer on the basis of documentary evidence produced in court.
Within days after Lt. Col Siriwardena received bail, Army Headquarters reinstated him in accordance with existing regulations.
However, the first suspect, Lt. Col Shammi Kumararatna, the Commanding Officer the Girithale headquartered battalion and the third suspect, Sergeant Priyantha Kumara Rajapaksa were denied bail on Aug. 24, 2016, exactly one year after their arrest. Instead, they were further remanded for two months pending investigations though the State Counsel wanted them re-remanded for a period of three months.
Lt. Col. Kumararatne, Lt. Col. Siriwardena and Sergeant Rajapaksa had been initially detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and held on Detention Orders for about three months before being produced in the Homagama Magistrate Y.R.D. Nelumdeniya.
Ajith Prasanna said that they had been produced in Homagama Magistrate’s court close on the heels of their families filing habeas corpus application in the Court of Appeal.
The suspects had been produced at the Homagama Magistrate court as a result of Ekneligoda’s wife, Sandya, filing a habeas corpus case in respect of her husband’s disappearance at Kottawa, coming under the purview of the Homagama Magistrate. In spite of them (suspects number 1, 2 and 3) being initially arrested on a charge of abduction, they along with two other DMI personnel were subsequently remanded under Section 296 of the Penal Code on a murder charge by then Homagama Magistrate Nelumdeniya. The ruling had been given on Nov 09, 2015.
Ranga Dissanayake, who succeeded Nelumdeniya as Homagama Magistrate told court that he couldn’t change a ruling given by his predecessor in spite of the police not producing fresh evidence to prove murder charges. Dissanayake made his position clear in a detailed statement on March 29, 2016 which dealt thoroughly with the issue at hand.
In addition to the eight remanded and one given bail, another DMI operative holding the rank of Sergeant Ranbanda also attached to the Girithale base is on record as having said that he questioned a blindfolded person on Jan. 24, 2010.
Ajith Prasanna retired in 2007 after having served the Army Legal Department for about six years.