The Sunday Leader

Investigations Into Lasantha’s Murder Speeding Up

By Frederica Jansz

A high profile investigation into the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge and the attacks on Editors Upali Tennekoon, Keith Noyahr and Namal Perera is underway as senior sleuths attached to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) and the Terrorist Investigations Department (TID) sift through a smattering of leads which may eventually pinpoint who were responsible for these attacks on journalists at the height of the war against the LTTE.

Lasantha Wickrematunge

Seventeen army soldiers attached to the Army Military Intelligence Unit but also identified as having worked “closely” with former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka are being held by the TID/CID.
Detectives, having begun a very belated investigation are now attempting to identify those who followed The Sunday Leader Editor  Lasantha Wickrematunge on Thursday, January 8,  2009 as he drove from his home in Nugegoda to Battaramulla and then onto to Attidiya where he was killed.

A serious investigation into the attacks on journalists began after General Fonseka contested the presidential elections as the common opposition candidate. In the immediate aftermath of Wickrematunge’s murder opposition leaders accused General Fonseka of responsibility.

The investigators are inquiring into the possible involvement of General Fonseka after a very senior official at the Defence Ministry revealed that the former Army Commander told him, “I did not intend to kill Lasantha – I only wanted him hurt – but they killed him.” This is according to senior officials conducting the investigation.

Investigators have now succeeded in taking into custody five mobile telephones which on the day Lasantha was killed moved in the same pattern as Wickrematunge’s phone, following his path from his home at Kandewatte Terrace – Nugegoda – to Robert Gunewardena Mawatha – Battaramulla – and then onto Attidiya.

A chart on this page shows the movement of these five mobiles including that of Wickrematunge’s (indicated in black). The phones passed through 11 cellular phone towers starting from Balapokuna Road – Nugegoda and ending at Attidiya.
Police sleuths have found that the five numbers have not been used before or since the day of the killing. However they have not been disconnected either.

One of the five phones appears to have been used to monitor and control the entire operation.  A track path of the calls made between the five telephones indicates that they communicated regularly with each other constantly calling one mobile phone used by a person  in  Nugegoda.

Police believe only two motorbikes were used despite some eyewitness accounts describing four bikes at the scene of the crime.

One of the five phone numbers indicated on the mobile path shows a call having been made at Bakery Junction – Attidiya – at the exact spot Lasantha was attacked.  Sleuths believe this phone was carried by the killer – the man who actually carried out the attack.

No weapon has been traced as yet. Sleuths remain undecided as to whether Wickrematunge was shot dead at point blank range, killed using a “Stun Gun” or fatally wounded by a long nail attached to the end of a pole.

Doctors who attended on Wickrematunge at the Kalubowila Hospital in an initial report said that Wickrematunge had been killed as a result of “firing.”  However, later the post mortem report said “There is an entry wound – no exit wound. Nor a spent bullet inside.”

This led to speculation first published in The Sunday Leader that Wickrematunge had been killed by the use of a “Stun Gun”; a weapon that temporarily disables a person with an electric shock.

With no real clues having emerged as yet, there being no spent bullet casing or cartridge found, police appear to be running with this theory based entirely on the speculative report carried in this newspaper.
Of the 17 soldiers being held in this regard, detectives have narrowed the field down to seven prime suspects.  Seven men who on the day  Wickrematunge was killed and on the day Upali Tennakoon, the then editor of the Sinhala Sunday newspaper Rivira was assaulted were out on ‘surveillance’.

There however have been no evidence whatsoever that these seven men were indeed involved in the two attacks.  No witnesses have come forward to identify the attackers in either case.

Lasantha’s wife Sonali Samarasinghe Wickrematunge described seeing two men on a black motorcycle as they sped past her home at Battaramulla. She said, they wore helmets and black fatigues and “stared us down as we got out of the car.”
She later recounted, “Lasantha wanted to talk with them. He even walked toward them but I hurried him into the house and locked the door. It was a  disturbing moment but not an unusual one.”

“I begged Lasantha to stay home that day, but on Thursdays he was always in a hurry. It was the day he wrote his influential political column, Suranimala. Meanwhile, the motorcyclists had vanished and Lasantha felt confident he could handle any lingering threat. He was determined to go to work. He was used to this,” she said.

Police have meanwhile also arrested and remanded one Jesudason from Nuwara Eliya who apparently owns a garage.
All of the five telephones used in the attack were registered in the name of Jesudason. When quizzed by detectives Jesudason claimed he lost his Identity Card – which would have been required to purchase the SIM cards for the five mobile phones. Jesudason however never made a formal complaint to the police regarding the loss of his ID.

He has however confessed to sharing a drink now and then with a soldier who he says identified himself as being a member of the Sinha Regiment of the Army. This soldier, is among the seven currently detained by the CID/TID. At the time of the arrest of this soldier he was a member of the army’s Military Intelligence Directorate headed at the time by Major General Amal Karunasekera.

At the time Sarath Fonseka was appointed Chief of Defense Staff Brigadier Amal Karunasekera was tipped to be among a number of senior officers from the  army to be appointed to top posts in the CDS office.
He was however subsequently chosen to join Sri Lanka’s diplomatic service and posted as the Charge d’Affaires in the new Sri Lanka Mission to be opened in Eritrea.

Maj. Gen. Karunasekera, played a key role in the military campaign against Tiger guerrillas and is identified as being a close confidant of Sarath Fonseka.

Sleuths are now investigating why and how Karunasekera transferred a significant sum of monies to the army’s Head Quarters Battalion Account during or roundabout the period when Wickrematunge was assassinated.  The dispensing of monies from this account is entirely the prerogative of the serving army commander.

Previously, Keith Noyahr, Associate Editor and Defence Correspondent of The Nation weekly newspaper was abducted from outside his home and brutally tortured on May 23, 2008. The assailants in that attack were also believed to have been acting on the orders of General Fonseka who was Army Commander at the time. Noyahr subsequently left the country together with his young family vowing never to return.  He also remained tight-lipped refusing to identify or indicate who his attackers were insisting that he had been warned of dire reprisals if he did so.

A month later Namal Perera was ruthlessly attacked on a busy highway at Kirulapone at 5.30 p.m. as he was driven home by a close friend – Mahendra Ratnaweera. The assailants failed in their attempt to abduct him. Perera too  was perceived to have fallen foul of Fonseka and thus targeted.
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When We Questioned Sarath Fonseka…

When the presidential election campaign of General Fonseka commenced at a public forum organised by Lakshman Watawala where Fonseka was the guest speaker a question was posed to him by The Sunday Leader whether he killed Lasantha.  He did not respond maintaining that was not the forum.

On a second occasion when General Fonseka was the Chief Guest at the AGM of the Colombo Lawyers’ For Democracy held at the Galadari Hotel a written question was sent up to him asking the same question. He replied, “kudu-karayas masquerading as politicians would have done it.”

The third occasion was when The Sunday Leader asked him the same question at an interview held in his political office on December 8, 2009 when he side-tracked the question, mumbling vaguely, alleging kudu-karayas protected by politicians were responsible.

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“I Know Who Killed Lasantha” — Red Herring?
The Man Who Walked In…

It was mid February 2009 and barely over a month since Lasantha was killed. A small-made, dishevelled man turns up in office and says he wishes to speak with me. He goes on to relate an amazing story explaining how Lasantha was killed and who was behind it. I listened patiently and took down notes of what he said. These notes were retained by me till Friday, March 5, 2010. With news reports in many newspapers and the electronic media that inquiries into the murder of Lasantha was making headway I decided to make a statement on what I was told by this visitor to one arm investigating this case.

Mr. “X” as I would call him had been released from Welikada Prison on an amnesty granted to prisoners on Independence Day in 2009. He was sentenced for embezzlement of state funds. Whilst in prison he was sharing a cell with a few others. Amongst those incarcerated with him were convicted murderers. He heard an inmate convicted for murder talking to another about a contract undertaken by him to kill someone and that the job was done on that day and had bragged as to how the operation was conducted. He said that this murderer had organized a “hit” on someone called Lasantha and a sharp instrument was used to carry out the task. At that point he did not know who this “Lasantha” was, but learnt later when he was watching Sirasa news on TV that night. He said that he had met Lasantha once when he had a problem with higher authorities at the Buddha Sasana Ministry when he gave an interview to The Leader.

He said, “A politician had given the contract to kill Lasantha to Kalu Thushara. Kalu Thushara uses Lakshman Kumara to carry out such contract work even though Lakshman Kumara was in jail. Lakshman Kumara is incarcerated for seven murders and also the HSBC heist. He is in B3 Ward cell 75. Others in this cell were Shantha from Galle and Kamal. Lakshman Kumara used members of his gang  to carry out the murder.”

He said, the weapon used to kill Lasantha was sourced from Vavuniya and those who transported the weapon stayed with a ruling party provincial councillor at Anuradhapura. A three wheeler was used to transport the weapon concealed in a cavity made for transportation of drugs. The three wheel vehicle belonged to an employee at the Transport Board in Ambalantota. The motor cycles used for this operation was sourced by one Indika from Piliyandala. One such bike was later driven by another and was produced at the Piliyandala Police by SI Ousmand.

It was Thusitha, an ex army person, Mr. “X” said who rode one bike to commit this murder. Chatura of Kottawa, Ashan from Kaluaggala and Saman also rode bikes, while Bernard of Pannipitiya drove the three wheeler. Kalu Thushara was remanded for possession of one kilo of heroin. He was charged in the Awissawella High Court. He had falsified the bail documents and was released from Kuruwita prison when he was produced at Welikada for another offence where he was granted bail on the condition that the Awissawella Courts had given him bail.

Therefore he went free and went by boat to India to link up with Thel Bala to thereafter cross over to Italy. Kalu Thushara was arrested by the Immigration authorities in India and held in a camp.

The “hit” was monitored by Lakshman Kumara from within the prison by using cellular no 07163…which was later confiscated by Jailor Silva on a search conducted within the prison. He also used cellular no 0715727814 and his brother Chaminda used cellular no 0725672771.

Mr. “X” also stated that the “Minister who master-minded the operation had visited Lakshman Kumara in prison that night in a special room and gave him biriyani and Rs. 1.8 million for a job well done.”

Mr. “X” was requested to meet a Police Inspector who was conducting the investigations and also given a card phone to be in touch. On visiting the police station and talking to the Inspector concerned, Mr “X” having developed cold feet vanished and was never heard of till he sent me a registered letter explaining his fear of being identified by the perpetrators.
It was only on receiving the letter that I knew his name. If that is true or not, the investigating authorities are sure to find out. Similarly the truth or falsity of the narrative.

To get to the truth of  Lasantha’s killing all possible leads need to be investigated. This story is being published now, since the CID/TID are finally carrying out a serious investigation into the death and can investigate all possible angles.
The question is who sent this man and why?

— Lal Wickrematunge

22 Comments for “Investigations Into Lasantha’s Murder Speeding Up”

  1. Uppandi

    The prison records will show who visited the prison on that night… or the authorities are sure to remember. This is one way to verify this story

  2. Ravi.M

    Certainly ew can find the name of the people whho visited the prison on that perticular night
    CID/TID should investigate from all angles without targeting in one diection or rather one person
    Another question why they so delayed this investigation and the reason for their special interest now?
    Is it their master’s voice or choise?

  3. Bamboo

    If it’s the work of the Army- the Comannder in Chief & Denfence Sec. also must take responsibility.

    • mohandev

      If that’s true then MR too is responsible. if this argument is valid JVP suspects tortured & killed in batalanda where RW used to rest should also be charged & punished for murder…….not to mention over 60 thousand youth killed by UNP led police & forces in late 80s in the name of JVP. List will be endless….. Bottom line is if any political killing is to be probed first probe the unp murders who mastered the art of killing its opponents without any trace, in case you have forgotten Richard De Zoysa

    • Psycho

      Bamboo, is Palipane P.Eng Canda you brother?

  4. Gemini

    I agree with Mr bamboo.Mr Gota disclosed this in an interview with a foreign media.Why not CID question him.?. HE KNOWS EVERYTHING ABOUT THE MURDER for which Gota is responsible.

  5. KABAI

    Wait & see. Soon chain of Pakse’s (King’s family) will be punished by the god.

  6. Humbug

    What all you people must by now realize is that everyone/all witnesses concerned in this case have by now been bought over or silenced by the authorities – the very people who are involved in this killing and other abductions. Sarath Fonseka may be involved partly for keeping mum at that time when he was supporting this govt. It is very clear even at this point of time the authorities and the army are making up all the allegations against SF and trying to frame him that is why the rush now. MR and Gota are fully responsible for this and other incidents because they are the Minister and Secretary of Defence respectively. The murder of Lassantha and all the others are very very sad but whoever the perpetrators may escape the law and hoodwink the people but they can never ever get away from the clutches of the one above all of us.

  7. Asoka P

    So, the story has that Mr ‘X’ remembered two ten digit phone numbers, apparently disclosed in a conversation in prison, for few days or weeks, including a period when he could have been preoccupied for being released from prison.

    If Mr ‘X” had not been taking notes at the time of the conversation, he must have a computer memory!!!

    Also, Mr ‘X” remembered clearly, every name of the conspirators (Thushara, Kumara, Indica) and hit men (Thusitha, Chatura, Ashan, Saman and Bernard), including some towns/village names of their origin. What a memory!!!

    • Psycho

      Good point, Mr “X” looks like kolikuttu “plant” – en to send the writer on a slippery slope.

  8. Sen

    A good report & a important information but under this rule I dont think any thing will happen in this direction cause this report says about a minister & a ruling party politisian .. But I beleive the King & Gotabaya knows everything..they speed-up the investigation to credit this to SF’s account ( but nobody knows he involed or not),
    This will be another cold case…We lost a brave journalist..

  9. Asoka P

    I agree with the insightful question posed by the reporter: “who sent this man (Mr ‘X’) and why?”

    However I do not believe Mr ‘X’ s account: that recalls every minute detail of a conversation, days later, regarding a murder of a person not known to Mr ‘X” or of interest to him. Is this account a ‘red herring’? Probably so.

    It would have been wise for the reporter to use a tape recorder for such a critically important disclosure. If Mr ‘X”, having planted the story fails to come forward and assist with the investigation, the reporter must assist in his own!!

  10. Raja balla is the one who murdered him ith the help of Madaviya.

  11. jayathilaka

    CID is beating about the wrong bush .the real killer s can be easliy identified with the help of defence sec Gotabaya since he gave a clue of Lasantaha’ killers in an interview.

  12. banda

    Come on chaps, just think, why this sudden interest in busting this dastardly act ? It’s election time and they have to frame a man ! Can these guys get any lower than this ? Why not solve all the other crimes in this blessed country by doing this type of ‘excellent’ work – well that’s not what they want as the entire jumbo cabinet will be behind bars then !! What a sick joke this really is.

  13. Chandadasa

    Dear Srilankans, it is no use of pointing your fingers to each and every.Today whole world know Srilanka is a country which has no law and under the power of “Un educated thug and his company”, That is why international organizations stopped their support and keep away this “Thug” out of” World Leaders”.This country Srilanka has no “Democracy” today.This “Thug” is not allowing any other educated civilized person to take the command this country for progress,The worse thing is today “Srilanka” is in the hand of another cunning group of “Politicians” in” India”.They have a very long plan to make “Srilanka” as a part of their control for troubling “SouthIndians in Tamilnadu” who are demanding their own state in “India” which “India” already said no. You can remember when the last stage of “LTTE” in 2009 India demanded “Kachhathiv Island” . Now this “Srilankan” situation is a goldmine and easy answer for “India`s” burning “Tamilnadu” problem and is a very easy catch for them ,because “Srilankan” broker this uneducated “Thug” is helpless and readly to do anything to be in power, because he has been kick out by the “Western Developed Countries” and he became helpless.This same thing happened in ancient “Srlanka”, when king Rajasinha killed all Sinhala leaders at that time listening to ” Indian Gura” “Aritta Ke Wendu” who used in his words “Raja Ho Ma Ho Gangawo”.Today same thing is going to be happen to “Srilanka”.India is the “Trouble Maker”. I like to address all “Srilankans” ,please do not trust this “Thug” as our “God Father”.He is the “Broker” only. Every vote you vote to this “Thug`s Party” is a contribution you make to hand over our “Sinhala Nation” and our mother land “Srilanka” to “INDIA”.Please stand up and make your voice against “INDIA”.

  14. Randy Mathew

    THERE IS MORE TO THIS THAN WHAT MEETS THE EYE. POWERFUL PERSONS IN POWER, ( MOST PEOPLE WOULD CALL THEM VILLAGE GODAYA THUGS ) SOME OF THEM HOLDING GREEN CARDS OR US CITIZENSHIP HAVE MASTERMINDED THIS DASTARDLY CRIME. THIS WILL NOT COME OUT TILL THIS CURSED FAMILY IS KICKED OUT OF POWER. THEY HAVE THE NERVE TO CALL THEMSELVES BUDDHISTS & BUDDHISTS THEY ARE NOT.

  15. Bamboo

    Editor

    Pl expose the SL Dipolmat whe shipped -painting and clock ! who is this goon
    and his connections to top Thanks

  16. Che

    ORDERS HAVE TO BE GIVEN BY AN AUTHORITY, MILITARY PERSONS ARE TRAINED TO OBEY ORDERS, IN THIS CASE IT SEEMS THAT THOSE WHO OBEYED ORDERS ARE BEING PUNISHED,WHAT HAPPENS TO THOSE WHO GAVE THE ORDERS??

  17. Che

    Mr Wickrematunge may have been done away with, possibly because he was going to reveal something in the paper,possibly involving certain dealings in crashed financial companies.

  18. lalith athulathmudali

    The reason why these sinhala stupid moda government speeding up is because of they want to regain GSP and keep IMF intact.

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