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Monday, April 22, 2024

Prageeth Eknaligoda Murder Probe Intensifies

by Nirmala Kannangara.

The Habeas Corpus and ‘B’ report cases filed in Court of Appeal and Homagama Magistrate’s Court respectively in the disappearance of Lanka e-news journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda are to be taken up for hearing this week, Sandya Eknaligoda, the wife of the journalist said. The Habeas Corpus case will be taken up Friday (18) in Colombo Court of Appeal while the ‘B’ report case filed by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) is to be taken up Thursday (17) at Homagama Magistrate’s Court.

Meanwhile, reliable sources from a law enforcement authority told The Sunday Leader that few more military intelligence officers are to be arrested for the abduction of Eknaligoda while five more are now held in Welikada remand prison. Eknaligoda, abducted January 24, 2010, is alleged to have murdered by certain military intelligence members and thrown away to the deep seas off Trincomalee on the directives of a high rank official at the Defence Ministry during the previous regime. It is alleged that Eknaligoda had been killed at the Trincomalee Plantain Point Army Camp and buried in a marshy land closer to the beach. However, a flash flood had caused the body to emerge, and later the body had been allegedly thrown to the deep seas off Trincomalee.

Suda arrested

Following the arrest of former LTTE cadre Suda, who was taken into custody for the killing of former TNA parliamentarian Nadarajah Raviraj, the CID detained 11 suspects for Eknaligoda abduction on evidence that Suda gave during the CID interrogations. It was on Suda’s information, two former LTTE cadres were arrested and they later revealed who were behind Eknaligoda’s disappearance. These two, Sumathipala Suresh Kumar and Sathya Master, were attached to the LTTE intelligence unit, and it was on their information, Sergeant Major Ranbanda, of the Military Intelligence Corps was arrested at Kurunegala. This was followed with the arrest of two colonels of the Military Intelligence Corps along with seven others.

The two LTTE intelligence carders were attached to the Karuna faction, and they had allegedly abducted Eknaligoda at Rajagiriya on January 24, 2010 and had dropped him at the Giritale Army Camp. Later he was transferred to another camp before his murder was carried out. Amongst the arrested members of the Military Intelligence Corps are Lieutenant Colonel Kumararatne, Lieutenant Colonel Siriwardena, Staff Sergeant Rajapakse, and Corporal Jayalath. According to Sergeant Major Ranbanda, who was attached to the Giritale Camp at the time, Eknaligoda was taken away after rigorous interrogation by Major Jagath Wijesuriya. Ranbanda has further confessed that a colonel attached to the same army camp was aware of Eknaligoda’s fate.

Friendship promotion

Major Jagath Wijesuriya, who was in charge of the Giritale Army Camp, had been promoted to the rank of Major General by the then Defence Secretary although there were allegations levelled against Wijesuriya of a cattle theft. This promotion is said to have been effected because on the friendship the former Defence Secretary had with Wijesuriya.

However, according to the latest information, Lieutenant Colonel Shammi Kumararatna is also accused of abducting Eknaligoda. He was taken to his farm at Dambulla and later to the army intelligence headquarters at Giritale in the Polonnaruwa District. It is alleged that Eknaligoda was rigorously interrogated by Lt. Col. Ratnayake and his staff for several days before his fate was decided. According to reliable information, Eknaligoda was detained one week in Giritale and taken to the Sorivila Army Camp at Manampitiya in the Dimbulagala Police Division. The landmines in Sorivila are yet to be cleared. Further reports state that Eknaligoda is alleged to have been transferred to the Plaintain Point Army Camp in Trincomalee where Eknaligoda is believed to have breathed his last. It is also reported that the CID who went to the Giritale Army Camp carrying the suspects had recorded statements from army personnel at the camp and had gone through all the documents to get more details to know when Eknaligoda was brought to the camp and by whom.

The CID officials have also obtained the relevant details of those who visited the Giritale Army Camp at the time Eknaligoda was brought in there. Details of the camp attendance register and those who were on leave and the registration numbers of the vehicles that had entered the camp during this period also have been taken.

Attempts to know contacts

The CID is said to have taken mobile phone details of certain army intelligence officers to know about whom they have contacted and from whom they received calls during these days. Those who have worked in the camp at that time had also been questioned to get more details, it is learnt. It is believed that Eknaligoda, who was a critic of the Rajapaksa regime, was abducted and murdered for compiling ‘The Family Tree’ – a book on Rajapaksa and his family members in politics and on those who held high posts in the government. He had also produced a 40-minute documentary portraying the former presidential candidate General Sarath Fonseka titled ‘Secrets of winning the war’.

Meanwhile, it is also learnt that the CID is now conducting an investigation to retrieve an audio tape – a conversation that the LTTE intelligence cadres who worked hand-in-glove with the Military Intelligence Corps had with Eknaligoda at his farm at Dambulla.

Meanwhile, the military connection with the murder of former MP N. Ravirajah has now surfaced because the weapon used for the murder had been given to the killer by one of the colonels arrested for Eknaligoda’s disappearance. According to the information received, it was this particular colonel, now in custody, who had allegedly given the weapon to Pillayan – the former Chief Minister of the Eastern Province, who in turn had given it to Ravirajah’s assassin.
Sunday Leader


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