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Lasantha killing: First autopsy report issued to mislead probe

by Nirmala Kannangara.

It has now proved that the first autopsy report of the Founding Editor of The Sunday Leader newspaper, Lasantha Manilal Wickrematunge had been issued to mislead investigations, similar to that of former Havelock Sports Club Captain Wasim Thajudeen.

On Thursday, August 10 the second postmortem report of Wickrematunge was produced before the Mt. Lavinia Magistrate which stated the cause of death was due to stab injuries with a blunt weapon. It has now confirmed how the then JMO, Colombo South Hospital Dr. K. Sunil Kumara, tried to mislead the investigation claiming the cause of death was due to cranio cerebral injuries following a discharge of firearms.

“Since the JMO report contradicts with the Government Analyst’s report, and also with the medical report of Professor Mohan Silva who performed the emergency operation on Wickrematunge that there were no traces of any gunshot injuries, the CID in September 2016 made a request to Mt. Lavinia Magistrate, Mohammad Sahabdeen seeking an order to exhume Wickrematunge’s remains to obtain a second post-mortem report. The remains were exhumed on September 27, 2016 under the supervision of Colombo No. 2 Magistrate,” Senior Attorney at Law and Former President, Bar Association, Mt. Lavinia, Athula S. Ranagala who appeared for Wickrematunge family interests told this newspaper.

A copy of Dr. Sunil Kumara’s JMO report, which this newspaper is in possession states as thus, “I, Dr. K. Sunil Kumara, Consultant Judicial Medical Officer do hereby affirm,

“The deceased was admitted to Ward No: ASU (Accident Service Unit) of the Teaching Hospital Colombo South on 08-01-09.

“The deceased was found to be dead when brought to the Colombo South Teaching Hospital.
“I have held a post mortem external examination on the body of the above-named deceased.

“From the history obtained from the previous medical records of this case and the statement of the police station who states that there were no grounds to suspect foul play in regard to the death, I am of the opinion that the cause of death is due to Cranio Cerebral injuries following a discharge of a firearm”.
According to Ranagala, it is questionable as to how the JMO came to a conclusion that the death was due to gunshot injuries when there were neither entry nor exit bullet wounds on Wickrematunge’s body.

“If there were no exit bullet wounds then the bullet should have been in Wickrematunge’s body. Without taking an X-ray, how could this JMO come to a conclusion that he died of gunshot injuries. Had he ever visited the place of the incident and spoken to the people to find out whether they heard any gun firing? Had he checked the vehicle the deceased was driving and the scene of the crime whether there were bullet cases. I understand that he now says that the JMO report was written based on the bed head ticket (BHT) where there was a note that he has died due to gunshot injuries. Do the government hospitals need JMOs who write the post mortem reports based on the BHTs,” Ranagala said.

Meanwhile, a retired high ranking defence sources, who wished to remain anonymous, said that unlike in Wasim Thjudeen’s case, it wouldn’t have been so difficult for the team of JMOs to ascertain Wickrematunge’s cause of death as if the death has occurred due to bullet injuries; the damage to the skull is very clear unlike stab injuries where the skull could have sustained cracks around the damaged area. Even a medical student can identify the difference between a gunshot damage and stabbed damage although the then Kalubowila JMO could not,” the defence sources said.

He further said how puzzling it was the way the former Kalubowila JMO in his six-page post mortem report describes about the death. “Until the last page where the doctor gives the cause of death, the JMO has never mentioned any firearm or gun powder involvement in the murder but suddenly on the last page he had come to a conclusion that the death was due to a wound following a discharge of a firearm. The first few pages say that the death was due to an assault, stab or from a fall,” sources added.

– Sunday Leader


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