Probe To Be Expedited On Welikada Prison Riot

by  Ashanthi Warunasuriya

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has issued orders to expedite the investigations pertaining to the 2012 Welikada Prison riot and called on the appointed committees to forward their reports and those found guilty are to be brought to book. In this regard the Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation Minister D.M. Swaminathan has been entrusted with the task of ensuring the relevant reports are issued and on measures to be taken to punish those responsible for the incident.

When contacted the Minister affirmed that the information was true and that he had been entrusted with the task. One of the election promises made by the current good governance regime was to investigate the 2012 Welikada prison riot and ensure that justice is served to those who were killed in an early morning raid the next morning of the day the riots commenced. Accordingly, although the government had appointed a committee to investigate the incident, to date no report has been issued pertaining to the outcome of the investigations. However, the Prime Minister has instructed the relevant authorities to expedite the procedures according to the recommendations issued by him. Recently, a special meeting was held at the Prison Reforms and Rehabilitation Ministry with regard to the future progress and procedure of the investigations. Police Chief Pujitha Jayasundara, the Attorney General, and a DIG of the CID had participated at this meeting. The CID will continue the investigations based on the directions of the Attorney General’s Department.

The committee appointed by the current regime had issued a report  in 2015, but it is unclear as to what has been mentioned in the said report. However, according to information we have received, the report determines that it was an act of deliberate murder. The committee had also recommended that the families of those killed should receive compensation. The reason that compensation was recommended is surely because a deliberate crime had been committed.  If not the committee would not simply recommend that compensation be paid if they felt that no wrong was committed against the victims. Accordingly the process of paying compensation is underway and currently they are in the process of determining the identity of those who have come forward to claim the compensation.

The 2012 Welikada Prison riot was the topic of discussion for quite some time, but with time, it became a forgotten incident. Hence, the Sunday Leader met up with the relatives of the victims and reported facts pertaining to their lives and the incident itself in an unbiased manner. We have always engaged in fair reporting and it is not the outcome of the story but we are more concerned about being fair to all. It is said that this investigation had been swept under the carpet during the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime. We also contacted the former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa for his comment and he denied that the investigations were being stalled and said during the previous regime too a committee had been appointed to investigate the incident.
Despite his claims, it was clear that the investigations had come to a standstill and why and who they were trying to protect is a question. According to Justice Minister Wijayadasa Rajapaksha the previous committee report was a washout and the current committee will be issuing their report soon. However there are still no signs of such a report being published. What is important now is not the report but determining who the perpetrators are and punishing them for the crime.

However when we asked the Prison Reforms Minister his response too was that the committee report should be ready in around three months and then they would take the matter further. He said when the final report is published they would be able to determine who is wrong and the truth can finally be revealed. Perhaps the minister is more confident now in his statement as the matter is under his purview.

As far as we know, during the previous regime although a committee was appointed, not even a proper witness account was recorded by the CID. However the only eyewitness to the incident Suresh Nandimal has given his statement. However when we contacted him he said even during the recording of his statement, the officer taking down the notes had refused to do so stating that it would have negative repercussions for him.
It is a known factor that those assassinated that day were all notorious drug smugglers but among them even innocent persons lost their lives. The law will take care of the punishment that should be meted out to those found guilty and the prisons is only a correctional facility and it should not be transformed into a place of torture. That is our stand.

While the world sees them as criminals, these are all members of families and it is understandable that their families would want a fair trial and want to know what happened to their loved ones. For a mother no matter what the world says she feels the pain of the loss of a child like no other. One such mother said that she was pleased when  he was remanded as his horoscope had indicated that he would get into trouble and she believed that in prison no harm could come to her son. Yet she still wails in agony that all she eventually got to see was the dead body of her son. All they now ask is that justice be done. It is true that these drug smugglers should be punished but not only the small fish even the kingpins and the large players in this game should also be netted in and punished.
It was reported that during the shooting several of these criminals had been shot. However, according to eyewitness accounts these prisoners were deliberately targeted and lined up against the wall and shot. The prisoners were selected and targeted. While the prisoners had got their hands on weapons that day, it is also said that the ammunition for the weapons were given to them by the prison police personnel.

This perhaps was to take the incident to a higher platform and it would have been done deliberately. When the military had been brought in they had ordered the prisoners to surrender their weapons and even after they had complied. Yet prisoners such as Kapila, Jothipala, Kalu Thushara and Amila had been specifically targeted and killed the next morning by another group of military personnel.  During the search conducted by the STF a clash between the prisoners and the security forces escalated and 27 were killed.

Yet some believe that this was a hatched plan to get rid of these notorious drug smugglers. However in this midst even those who had ‘run ins’ with certain officers of the Narcotics Bureau were also targeted and killed during this incident. However, now it is immaterial why they were killed or trying to justify these killings is of no use. Now what is required is to see that justice is served and those responsible are brought to book.

2 Comments for “Probe To Be Expedited On Welikada Prison Riot”

  1. gamini

    What a farce, Ranil sitting on report for years.
    Prisoners killed according to list provided by psycho Gota stated by prison officers?

  2. UNP leader what is promised in election meeting not done even 25% of them, corruption, crime are still free , ,TIT a political revenge, UN human right want to remove but still in operation minister of justice was behind the game he is person supporting BBS monks. cabinet change prime minister was not happy, president did with little garages, minister of justice must remove forthwith ,he is supporting former president,

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