Chief nose-dives as operation cover-up backfires
deplorable manner in which Air Force Chief Air Marshal Jayalath Weerakkody
tried to cover-up a motor accident with the
connivance of the police took a dramatic turn on Friday, July 5,
when the cleaner of the lorry he crashed into on June 15, died.
Silva, fell out of the lorry when Weerakkody's Peugeot 406 car hit the
lorry, at around 4.15 a.m. on June 15, at the Borella - Horton Place
were told at the time that Rathnasena suffered severe concussion
and that he required a hip replacement. Warded at the Colombo
General Hospital, exactly two weeks later, Rathnasena was dead. Rathnasena
hails from Kalutara and was married with two children.
air force commander was on Friday produced before the Magistrate's
Court, Maligakanda and bailed out. He will now be charged under
Section 298 of the Penal Code
for causing death by negligence. It carries a maximum jail term of five
the helm of Sri Lanka's most prestigious military force, Air Marshal
Jayalath Weerakkody - commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force, at fifty years
old - was sure he could serve a second term before bowing out gracefully
matter how he conducted himself both in public and private, Weerakkody was
certain his horizons were crystal clear - there could be no crash landing
for the cocky but smart, air force commander.
allegations of corruption and public misconduct, Weerakkody made sure did
not surface sufficiently or with tangible evidence that would mar what he
has termed in his own words, "a brilliant career" in the SLAF.
has now proved beyond all reasonable doubt that he is nothing but a
coward. Cowering in shame and fright, Weerakkody's sole concern that day
(June 15) was to shield himself and him alone. He has gone so far as to
falsely implicate not only an SLAF driver but his own staff officer as
well - Flight Lieutenant Herath - in order that he maybe absolved from any
once did Weerakkody have the decency or the compassion to visit Rathnasena
or inquire after his wellbeing. If at all, Weerakkody only contemplated
how he could 'buy off' the cleaner and driver of the lorry - so they would
not talk and identify him as the SLAF commander at the scene of the
the same manner media organisations were rumoured to have been offered Rs.
500,000 to kill this story - Weerakkody was certain Rathnasena and Arthur
(the driver of the lorry) were chickenfeed in his shameful plan to cover
the details of this accident.
the silent media too has jumped the bandwagon to report the story.
week The Sunday Leader will reveal the story behind the cover-up with
collusion by top cops and the shameless attempt to subvert the process of
law as revealed in the investigation conducted by DIG, Nimal Gunatilake.
The events unfolded last week with details of the cover-up coming to light
in the face of a thorough investigation launched by Gunatilleke.
SLAF chief was finally forced to make an official statement to DIG Nimal
Gunatilleke, who is also the STF commander and who headed this inquiry on
Tuesday, July 2. Even at this stage the air chief continued to contradict
himself - enacting a comedy of errors.
was our position when we broke this story. That the SLAF chief framed a
driver of the SLAF - Warnakulasuriya Upali Jayakody to take the rap for
the accident - had very serious implications in the event there had been a
death the driver would have to face charges for a killing and a jail
sentence. This is exactly what has now happened. The only silver lining in
this drama is that as a result of the media hype Jayakody has been proved
to be innocent of the killing though party to the coverup conspiracy and
the law will deal with the true miscreant in this crime.
his statement to DIG Nimal Gunatilleke last Tuesday, Weerakkody had this
to say. He admits that it was he who drove the Peugeot 406 car on June 15,
and crashed it into a lorry. He claims however he did not know that an
SLAF driver had gone to the Borella police station and taken the blame for
air chief has told DIG Gunatilleke that his staff officer Flight
Lieutenant Herath whom he telephoned on his mobile from the scene of the
accident and who arrived pronto and removed him from the site, later that
day informed him that "everything had been taken care of."
for strange reasons did not see fit according to his statement to cross
question Flight Lieutenant Herath and ascertain how indeed,
"everything had been taken care of."
Weerakkody would have had the sense to ask, how 'it had been taken care
of' and why there was no need for him to present himself at the Borella
police station? Why did Weerakkody not at the very least, telephone the
OIC of the Borella police and have the courtesy to ask if there was a
necessity for him to make an official statement?
maybe arrogant and cocky but the man is not dense to the extent, he will
meekly accept a statement made by his staff officer. "Why do they not
need me?" is a question, Weerakkody should surely have asked Herath?
He did not do so because he was part of the cover up conspiracy
being the chief beneficiary.
fact despite the police officer at the scene of the accident having asked
Weerakkody to report to the police for a statement he had scooted off.
air chief has told DIG Nimal Gunatilleke that he did not even know the
name of the driver and accepted Flight Lieutenant Herath's assurance that
"everything had been taken care of - that the car had been released
from the Borella police station and there was no need for him (Weerakkody)
to make a statement."
the time Weerakkody lied to DIG Nimal Gunatilleke, he chose to forget he
had told a contradictory story to The Sunday Leader in this regard. When
we contacted him soon after details of the accident began to filter,
Weerakkody told us he had been at the scene of the accident but that his
driver was driving the car and crashed it. When asked what the name of
this driver was he said, "Upali Jayakody."
Weerakkody has now sought to do, is not only implicate SLAF driver W.
Upali Jayakody but also his own staff officer Flight Lieutenant Herath as
well. Herath will now be forced to face charges for conspiring to cover up
the details of a motor accident, while also falsely implicating fellow
SLAF officer Upali Jayakody. According to the air chief it is Flight
Lieutenant Herath who got W. Upali Jayakody to go to the Borella police
and give a false statement with regard to this accident. "I was not
aware at the time, that this had been done," he told DIG Gunatilleke.
SLAF commander's statement which was recorded on July 2, at 11 a.m. says
the accident took place around 4.15 a.m. in the morning. He says he had
left the Hilton Hotel in the company of Flight Lieutenant Mrs N. Gamage
and was driving the vehicle towards Rajagiriya in order to drop Mrs.
Gamage. As he was passing the traffic lights near D. S. Senanayake College
- Horton Place junction, his vehicle collided with a lorry. He says he
immediately got off the car and saw a passenger and another being carried
into a vehicle.
air force commander states that a policeman had then come to the scene and
he had introduced himself as the SLAF commander and said he was driving
the vehicle. Then he had immediately on his cell-phone contacted his staff
officer, Flight Lieutenant Herath and asked him to come to the scene. He
says within a few minutes his staff officer Herath and a few others had
come there. He claims he thereafter went with them to the SLAF medical
center for treatment and on the advice of the doctor went home and rested.
fact of the matter however is that Weerakkody's lies and attempts at
subterfuge have failed to impress or fool a police officer of the calibre
of DIG Nimal Gunatilleke. As Weerakkody bluffed and tripped over his own
lies last Tuesday, entangling himself in his own web of deceit - the
eagle-eyed cop watched with disgust.
in his report on the matter to the IGP, Gunatilleke has recommended that
charges should be made against the SLAF commander for negligent driving in
terms of Section 149 (1) 151 (3) of the Motor Traffic Act and Regulation
Nimal Gunatilleke has stated that SLAF Chief, Air Marshal Jayalath
Weerakkody is the driver of the car involved in this accident.
course of law
has also stated in his report that the conduct of the SLAF commander in
trying to cover up this accident was deplorable and that the attorney
general's advice should be sought for criminal charges to be pressed
against the air chief for subverting the course of law.
the time the DIG made these recommendations Rathnasena Silva was not yet
meanwhile in his statement to Gunatilleke has also denied he was under the
influence of liquor at the time of the accident. The lorry driver however
in his statement says the driver of the car whom he has identified as
being the SLAF commander, was "smelling of liquor," when he had
got down and spoken to him after the car hit his lorry
truth, of this aspect of the story we will never be able to verify as the
cops for reasons now known to all did not carry out a breathalyser test on
Weerakkody, having been told by DIG Bodhi Liyanage "let the gentleman
days later, on Thursday July 4, Flight Lieutenant Herath in his statement
made to DIG Nimal Gunatilleke, says that after dropping the SLAF chief at
his house, he went back to the Borella police station to take the car. He
claims that at the time, he figured the SLAF chief would come later and
make a statement. However, he says that while at the police station, the
OIC of the Borella police told him the SLAF commander need not come and
that they could "shape it up" by introducing a driver. Herath
admits he therefore did this because the OIC said so but that he is now
aware he has committed an offence.
if he would commit murder also if the OIC had told him to do so, Herath
had replied, "No."
that, Herath claims he went back to the commander's house and told
Weerakkody that the Borella OIC had said he (Weerakkody) need not come to
the police station and that the OIC had suggested a driver be introduced
instead. Herath says he informed the commander he had complied and got an
SLAF driver to go and give a statement.
it is clear the air force commander knew the substitution the very day but
allowed his driver to take the rap until and upto the point he was
confronted with the facts by DIG Gunatilleke.
Nimal Gunatilleke after recording Herath's statement has further
recommended that action should be taken against the SLAF commander in
terms of Section 199 of the Penal Code. This section states that,
"intentional omission to give information about an offence by a
person bound to inform" carries a term of six months or fine or both.
Gunatilleke has stated that Flight Lieutenant Herath should be charged for
aiding and abetting that offence.
17702 Ratnayake of the Borella traffic police who was the first at the
scene of the accident from the station in his statement to Gunatilleke on
this matter states that he was informed by the telephone operator of the
Borella police about an accident and visited the scene and conducted
to Ratnayake the accident took place at around 4.15 a.m. on June 15, at
the Borella - Horton Place traffic lights. The number of the lorry
involved in the accident is 47-5731 while the number of the Peugeot car
406 is WPGL 1233. The SLAF vehicle, Ratnayake says was travelling from
Horton Place towards Rajagiriya. The lorry was coming from Narahenpita
Ratnayake arrived at the scene a person there identified himself as the
air force commander and said he was the driver of the vehicle. The name of
the driver of the lorry is Arthur, he said.
asserts that he thereafter made some preliminary observations, wrote his
notes and told both drivers to come to the Borella police station.
driver did but the air force chief did not since operation cover up had
a nutshell, it is now proved it was the air force commander who was the
driver of the vehicle involved in the fatal accident and that after the
event an elaborate conspiracy with top cops got underway for a cover
says he later learnt that a woman who was with the SLAF chief and the
cleaner of the lorry whose name is Rathnasena Silva had been taken to the
accident ward of the Colombo General Hospital by the police mobile patrol
that had earlier arrived at the scene.
therefore went to the accident ward to record their statements. There, he
was informed the lady had already been discharged after receiving OPD
treatment. The lady had given her name as Nalini of 2/21, 28th Lane,
Colpetty. Her OPD ticket number was 48900. But that did not specify the
nature of the injuries to her.
cleaner of the lorry, Rathnasena Silva however was in a critical state
suffering from concussion and requiring a hip replacement.
has said he recorded Arthur's statement but that Air Marshal Jayalath
Weerakkody did not come to make a statement to the police.
wrote this in the Traffic Information Book. As per his notes, it was due
to the negligence of the driver - namely the SLAF commander that this
Police Sergeant 14244 P. Gunaratne who
was in the mobile patrol has also made a statement. He says he had been
working the mobile patrol in the early hours of dawn on June 15. He was in
vehicle number 64-1066. This vehicle was driven by Police Sergeant D.
13122 Sirisena. The other cops in the vehicle were PC 27124 Upali and F.
A. 2018 Dayananda.
says he saw an accident on his way near the Horton Place - Borella traffic
lights and saw a lady in bell-bottoms squatting on the road and holding
the door of the car involved in the accident. She appeared to be injured.
saw another person with severe bleeding injuries lying on the road and a
man standing nearby.
had gathered by this time and had pointed to the SLAF commander and said
he was the driver of the car. Gunaratne noted that he (the air chief) had
a bleeding injury of the right eyebrow.
police mobile took the woman and the cleaner to the accident ward. The
lady was identified as Flight Lieutenant Diyadawa Gamage. While travelling
in the police vehicle she had kept calling out for the airforce commander.
Gunaratne says he returned to the police station at about 7.15 a.m. on
June 15, and made an entry referring to the two injured persons. But, he
later found that someone had tried to smear or erase the name of D. Gamage
from the book.
the use of a chemical brought up the name that was obliterated.
Nimal Gunatilleke has noted in his concluding report to the IGP that there
was no such person as D. Gamage in the given address and that she had
tried to conceal her factual address.
adds that an attempt has been made to erase the name of this woman made in
the entry by R.P.S. 14244 Pushpakumara in the beat information book on
June 15, 2002. Gunatilleke asserts that the person responsible for this
should be identified and dealt with.
now learn that Flight Lieutenant Nilani Gamage has quit the air force
following this incident.
the lorry driver Arthur has said that he was coming from Narahenpita
towards Borella and brought his vehicle to a halt at the red light at the
Borella - Horton Place junction. Then the green light came on and he moved
forward. Suddenly, he says, a vehicle came from Horton Place and hit the
left side of the lorry. He says he then saw the cleaner with injuries
lying on the floor.
man who was driving the car whom he now identifies as the SLAF commander
he says, had got down and spoken to him. Arthur maintains that he (Weerakkody),
was smelling of liquor. He says he also saw the lady and there were no
other passengers in the car. Rathnasena whose statement was also recorded
before he died has corroborated Arthur.
ruled out the presence of another driver
in Weerakkody's vehicle.
driver Warnakulasuriya Upali Jayakody colluding with conspirators to take
the blame for the accident committed by his boss, has said in his
statement to DIG Nimal Gunatilleke that he was driving vehicle no. WPGL
1233 and had been on an official errand. He has stated that he collided
with a lorry and sustained minor injuries on his forehead and hand. He
claims that he took treatment at a private hospital and went to the
Borella police station at 8.30 a.m. on June 15, and made a statement.
Nimal Gunatilleke has stated that action should be filed against Jayakody
in terms of Section 179 of the Penal Code for making a false statement and
in addition conspiring to cover up the truth of an accident.
so ended this deplorable drama.
Marshal Jayalath Weerakkody met with President Chandrika Kumaratunga
on Thursday, July 4, and informed her he would be submitting his
retirement papers the very day.
Weerakkody had told the president to accept his papers as he
was definitely not going to report back to work at the SLAF.
Kumaratunga we learn had been non-committal.
later handed in the retirement papers to Defence Secretary Austin
Fernando who in turn forwarded it to the president
day earlier, on Wednesday, July 3, Weerakkody met with Prime
Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and informed him of his early
retirement from the Sri Lanka Air Force.
given the issue in its entirety, the question that arises is whether
the SLAF chief should be allowed to merely retire from service or
should he be removed - as there is tangible evidence to prove he has
tried to subvert the law as well as killed a man as a result of his
inquiry on Bodhi Liyanage
Sunday Leader learns that a separate inquiry is to be initiated
against Deputy Inspector General of Police for Colombo, Bodhi
Liyanage for attempting to shield the air chief and allow another to
take the rap for the accident. This inquiry will also investigate
why DIG Bodhi Liyanage failed in his duty to enforce the law when
junior police officers appear to have done their job.
Bandara of the Borella traffic police has said that he received
orders from the top to stifle an inquiry into this accident. While
Air Marshal Jayalath Weerakkody claims he only telephoned Flight
Lieutenant Herath from the scene of the accident - a check on the
SLAF chief's mobile bill will prove if indeed he telephoned DIG
Bodhi Liyanage as well, around 4.15 a.m. on June 15.
Bodhi Liyanage when quizzed by The Sunday Leader admitted an
airforce officer had telephoned him that morning but denied it was
the commander while categorically stating the SLAF chief was never
at the scene of the accident in question.
Ratnayake says that DIG Bodhi Liyanage spoke to him on the mobile
telephone the air chief had used, to telephone him that morning and
told him to, "let the gentleman go."
a result no breathalyser test was done.
confided that severe pressure is being brought upon DIG Nimal
Gunatilleke to change certain statements made by SLAF Commander, Air
Marshal Jayalath Weerakkody.
respected DIG has refused to comply.
Gunatilleka has recommended in his report on this case to the IGP,
that senior officers of the police who tried to subvert the course
of justice, should also be dealt with.
two police constables who resisted pressure to change the statements
he has said should be commended by the IGP for their actions.
Gunatilleke when contacted by The Sunday Leader said he has
finalised his report and handed it over to the IGP but declined to
give details. However, when questioned as to what action is being
contemplated against the police officers involved in this who tried
to shield offenders he said, "whoever tried to subvert justice
should also be dealt with in terms of the department regulations and
the provisions of law prevailing in the country