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Many war missing could have obtained new identities: Gota

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa yesterday said that many of those listed missing during the war could have obtained new identities courtesy foreign governments.

The recent Gunaratnam affair revealed how Australia had issued a passport (N 1016123) to the leader of the newly formed Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) under a different name in spite of knowing his real identity, the Defence Secretary said.

Asked whether he could prove complicity on the part of Australia in helping Gunaratnam to slip into the country, the Defence Secretary told The Sunday Island that the Australian High Commissioner in Colombo Robyn Mudie identified the missing Gunaratnam as Noel Mudalige, while acknowledging his Australian citizenship.

“Don’t forget the Australian HC also revealed that Gunaratnam arrived at the Bandaranaike International Airport on September 4, 2011.”

The war veteran said that foreign governments, including Australia had refused to assist Sri Lanka in investigations aimed at locating missing persons now living overseas under new identities. Thousands of Sri Lankans had received new identities, particularly in Europe, he said.

Even the identities of those arriving illegally in Australia and other countries seeking political refuge were protected, thereby denying Sri Lanka an opportunity to target organized criminal gangs responsible for sending people abroad.

External Affairs Minister, Prof. G. L. Peiris told The Sunday Island that Gunaratnam had also obtained a Sri Lankan passport under a different name, while giving yet another name in his marriage certificate. The bottom line was that Gunaratnam had used at least three other identities, Prof. Peiris said, alleging an attempt to bring the GoSL into disrepute in the wake of unsubstantiated war crimes accusations.

The Defence Secretary said that he had told the Colombo-based diplomatic community of LTTE cadres, including those tasked with suicide missions, taking refuge in new identities both here and abroad.

According to him, recent recovery of a suicide jacket at a rest house in Kataragama led to the arrest of an LTTE suicide cadre, who lived in Galle as a Muslim, while his parents had reported him missing. The Defence Secretary said that the suicide cadre, under interrogation, had admitted that he was tasked with assassinating President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

After returning to Australia, Mudalige alleged that he was handcuffed, blindfolded and physically and sexually tortured during his three day detention.

The Defence Secretary said that the police recorded Mudalige’s statement in the presence of Australian HC Mudie at the CCD headquarters, at Dematagoda. Mudalige could have made that allegation in the Australian HC’s presence, the Defence Secretary said adding that the Immigration and Emigration imposed a fine on the Australian national for overstaying his visa, though he didn’t pay the fine claiming he didn’t have money.

“In fact, we never deported him. He wanted to leave the country. He could have stayed back after paying the fine but he decided to leave the country.”

 The Defence Secretary said that the FSP took almost 12 hours to report Mudalige’s disappearance, while Dimuthu Attugalle’s alleged abduction was brought to the notice of the law enforcement agencies about 24 hours later.

He pointed out that as the FSP had claimed that Dimuthu Attygalle had disappeared 8 pm on Friday (April 6) the party should explain why Mudalige was left alone at a partially built house. Any political party conscious of security wouldn’t have acted the way the FSP did, the Defence Secretary said, alleging a conspiracy to embarrass the government.

In their complaint, the missing person was identified as Premkumar Gunaratnam and there was no mention of Australian national Noel Mudalige being abducted, the Defence Secretary said.

 The Defence Secretary said that it would be interesting to know at what stage the Australian HC in Colombo was informed of the alleged disappearance of Mudalige, when Australia provided the Sri Lankan a new identity and whether he would now seek another identity from Australia or some other country as his Australian identity was exposed

by Shamindra Ferdinando


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