4th April, 2004  Volume 10, Issue 3
8

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ISSUES

Law closes in on Somawansa

By Frederica Jansz

Even as polling drew to a close on Friday, April 2, the case against leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), Somawansa Amarasinghe and his having violated immigration and emigration laws in the country snowballed into an issue before court.

Wallivita Arachchige Dharmasiri of Imbulgoda, went before Colombo's Chief Magistrate, Kusala Weerawardena, last Wednesday March 31, seeking notice on the Inspector General of Police to commence investigations into the case involving Somawansa Amarasinghe and his violation of immigration laws.

Magistrate Weerawardena questioned Dharmasiri's interest in filing this case. The latter's position was that when a crime is committed, any law-abiding citizen who has knowledge of a crime being committed has the right to go before court and seek justice.

On that basis Dharmasiri sought redress from Weerawardena to have notice issued only for the purpose of a police investigation.

In his application to court, Dharmasiri revealed that Somawansa Amarasinghe previously left Sri Lanka using a false passport, which effectively amounts to a non-bailable offence.

Repetition of offence

Dharmasiri has further stated that there is reason to believe a repetition of this offence may be committed once more by the JVP chief, following media reports that he was preparing to secretly leave the country. 

There is evidence to prove that Somawansa Amarasinghe alias Frank in 1998 secured a forged passport under the name Dissanayake Mudiyansalage Nimal Bandara, which it is alleged, he used to flee Sri Lanka.  

Somawansa Amarasinghe has, in statements made by him to the electronic media, justified his reasons for having fled Sri Lanka in the early 1990s under a false name.

Weerawardena meanwhile instructed the plaintiff to first make a complaint to the IGP and in the event the police investigation does not begin, to then petition court again.

Dharmasiri further states that his court action is also subject to a judicial pronouncement in the High Court bearing case no. 5101/92.In this case, the late Justice F. N. D. Jayasuriya sentenced one Matarage don Ariyadasa having found him guilty for aiding and abetting leaders of the JVP to stash large quantities of gold and jewellery that had been stolen by the organisation between 1987 to 1989.

Prison sentence

Ariyadasa was handed down a jail sentence of two years suspended for a period of 10 years. In his statement of confession made to Inspector Deepthi of the then Criminal Detective Bureau, under the supervision of then SP Lionel Goonetilleke, presently DIG CID, Ariyadasa says that soon after the break in and armed robbery of the People's Bank Wellawate in 1989, JVP leaders brought a massive haul of gold to him for safe keeping.

Ariyadasa details the role played by Saman Piyasiri Fernando alias Keerthi Wijeyabahu and Somawansa Amarasinghe alias Frank. Ariyadasa has said how they brought in gold, jewellery, and how the loot was buried in his backyard.  He further confesses how some of the jewellery was subsequently taken by Somawansa Amarasinghe and brought back with instructions not to release any of those items to anybody. Ariyadasa reiterates, these strict instructions were issued by Somawansa Amarasinghe, an active participant in this crime.

Therefore, Dharmasiri requested court permission for police to also investigate into the role played by Somawansa Amarasinghe in committing this crime.

Ariyadasa's statement in addition reveals a few other names involved in this crime. Among those are Lionel Bopage, Buddadhasa Withana-ratchchi, Lalith Wijeyratne, Saman Piyasiri Fernando and Shantha Bandara alias Mahanama.

Subsequent to the pronouncement made at the Colombo Magistrate's Court as indicated by the Chief Magistrate on Thursday April 1, a set of documents along with attachments were handed over to the IGP requesting for an investigation to commence.

Why the alliance cannot last

Having formed a partnership with the People's Alliance, the JVP led by Somawansa Amarasinghe has made no secret of its acute dislike of President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who is also leader of the PA.

Having played a role in the assassination of Kumaratunga's husband Vijaya - (a fact admitted by Kumaratunga herself when she wrote a letter from London to the Island newspaper which appeared on April 30, 1989 where she states, "In addition, I have been constantly issued with death warrants by the JVP, since they murdered Vijaya 14 months ago")Somawansa Amarasinghe holds no regard or respect for the incumbent President.

As recently as November 2000, in a press interview, Amarasinghe maintained that Chandrika Kumaratunga is in a weak mental condition following an assassination attempt on her life in December 1999.  This is what he says; "It is absolutely clear that Chandrika tried to pass the Constitution Bill at a time when her government was in the deathbed, with the aim of saving her own life and to stay in power. We know that since her injuries from the Town Hall bomb blast she gravely fears for her life. The most important and right thing to do now is to leave the Presidency and go home. When, one is in fear for his or her life she or he is in no way in a right mental state to govern a country in the capacity of the responsible position as President. A person with shaken mental state is but in no way suitable, also dangerous to lead a country hands on. By trying to bring forward the most important document of the country which has a grave impact on the future of the people at the last hours of its rule of power proves the point." 

He adds further; "We have to stress here that we will reject a model of loose federal states even with an assurance from the LTTE to abandon its armed struggle and Eelam. The point we are making here is that Chandrika's shaken, weak mentality of saving her own life and staying in power disregards the entire nation and the country."

And Amarasinghe's derogatory opinion of Kumaratunga is suitably reciprocated by the President herself, who has done little to hide her dislike of Amarasinghe and the JVP. In an interview with David Frost of the BBC, on October 28, 2001, Kumaratunga in response to a question posed by Frost asking how her husband Vijaya was killed says, "And they were killing in competition with each other - the government was killing off its democratic opponents, the others were killing off anybody who they thought stood in their way, that was called the JVP and one part of the government used JVP insurrectionists and their killers to murder off many young political leaders and activists from democratic parties like the one to which I belong and my husband, he was a leader of our party and he was, we were fighting for the rights of the Tamil minority and the other minorities living in the country."    

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