has messed up the case' - IGP
are excerpts of an interview on this matter with Inspector General
of Police, Indra de Silva.
How was this special police unit with ASP Wedisinghe established?
I don't know how this was established I had nothing to do with
this special unit.
But who made the initial request for police officers to be
deployed to handle a special investigation of this nature? Was it
The request came from President's House. I can't remember who
signed the letter. Such requests are not unusual when such
commissions and committees have detected a fraud or a matter of
criminal offence. It is referred to the police for further
Is there a committee report in relation to this case detailing
such a criminal offence?
No. There is no report. When I got a request from President's
House to investigate this - I told DIG Crimes to get these three
people working on it from the sports division. The request came
just a week or two ago.
Who are the members of this purported committee that detected this
I don't know who is there in the committee. We only get the
criminal part of their findings into which we inquire.
So is this unit of police officers a special presidential unit to
probe acts of corruption?
No, this is not a special unit. This is a small unit.
Wedisinghe together with some other officers were merely appointed
by me to look into the complaints received by the President's
House based on these committees and commissions appointed by the
President. This is perfectly normal, there is nothing unusual
about this. Wedisinghe was only asked to assist in this
investigation, that's all. Even the CEB, the Wildlife Department,
Millennium City, in all such cases they find some criminal act and
requests were made for police to investigate and that is what we
did and have done in this instance too.
Are you aware if the members of this particular committee who
probed the case against Ravi Karunanayake consisted of Mangala
Samaraweera, Wimal Weeravansa and Kusumsiri Balapatabendi?
I don't know who the members are.
Is this special unit of police officers an independent unit of the
Police Department or is it a unit subservient to the Presidential
Secretariat? Do they have to report to the President or any other
government minister or member?
No, they report to their superiors in the police.
Then why did you not know about the attempted arrest, nor had the
DIG Crimes been informed by Wedisinghe that he intended to arrest
Normally I don't have to be informed prior to an arrest. The
DIG Crimes Jayantha Wickremaratne however should have been
informed. But on that day he was out of the country. As far as I
know nobody was informed.
In this context then do you believe that ASP Wedisinghe acted with
propriety and without malice?
What has happened here is this policeman did not adhere to the
correct way of doing an investigation. Not only this police
officer but every police officer is like this. Over the last 30
years we have not been involved in doing investigations so they do
not know to do a proper investigation. All these problems are
there. You should see the problems the police are having with the
courts all because they do not know to do a proper investigation.
As a result everyday suspects are being released. For the last 30
years in this country police officers have been engaged in
paramilitary work. In the 1980s police officers became soldiers.
If you read any complaint written by a police officer that by
itself is enough to throw a case away. To change this present
strategy will require a huge amount of willpower. Unfortunately
right now the will is elsewhere.
A police gazette notification of July 2003 specifically states
that any offence exceeding the value of Rs. 3 million must be
conducted by the CID. Why then was this case not referred to the
That police gazette is only for administrative purposes. That
does not apply in this case. It's not necessary to hand it over to
the CID even the Special Investigation Unit can handle a case like
When a special police unit is thus formed should not the
magistrate in this case, the Fort magistrate have been duly
informed by way of a 'B' report?
No why should he be informed? The policeman is empowered by
the Police Ordinance - he does not need to inform the magistrate
that he is functioning in any special unit.
Have you responded to a letter sent by Ranjit Abeysuriya calling
for an explanation on the conduct of ASP Wedisinghe?
I have not yet seen the letter. I met Ranjit Abeysuriya and he
told me he has sent the letter, but I have been out of my office
these last two days and have not yet seen it.
and the police
are being levelled by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) that
ASP C. E. Wedisinghe surreptitiously submitted a report to court
claiming he was prevented from arresting Ravi Karunanayake MP by
Professor G. L. Peiris, Rajitha Senaratne and a few others
including attorney G.G. Arulpragasam. Also that Wedisinghe
continued to make these charges to court despite a directive by
the Inspector General of Police to withdraw them.
contents of the Wedisinghe report charges Arulpragasam as a
suspect in obstructing the police. This charge carries a penal
sentence with imprisonment under Section 183 and 186 of the Penal
Code and is a non-bailable offence. Having first lodged a
complaint at the Thalangama Police on the alleged obstruction, but
without leaving it to the Thalangama Police to conduct an
investigation into the matter Wedisinghe forwarded a statement to
court naming Arulpragasam as a suspect in obstructing the police.
informed of this development, Arulpragasam got in touch with the
President of the Bar Association, Ikram Mohamed, P.C., Deputy
President Hemantha Warnakulasuriya and Secretary, Anoma
the office bearers met at the Bar Association where it was decided
that this is a very serious situation which affects the entire
profession and the fundamental rights of an attorney-at-law when
conducting his professional duty. Hemantha Warnakulasuriya, had
then contacted Sirisena Herath, DIG Colombo who denied any
involvement in this episode. Herath according to Warnakulasuriya
had said that Wedisinghe never came under his direction or
purview. No DIG in fact was prepared to accept responsibility for
Wedisinghe's actions. Since no DIG was prepared to take
responsibility for the actions of Wedisinghe, Warnakulasuriya
contacted IGP Indra de Silva who had expressed deep concern.
it was decided to send a letter to the IGP detailing what took
place in court and reiterating that Arulpragasam acted as an
attorney-at-law within the rights of a lawyer in trying to protect
his client from what he considered as an arbitrary arrest. The IGP
had inquired into the complaint lodged by the Bar Association and
thereafter directed the Director CID to instruct Wedisinghe to
file a report in court that the police are not proceeding into the
allegation contained in the Wedisinghe report citing
Arulpragasam as a suspect.
June, 30, 2004, Ikram Mohamed and Hemantha Warnakulasuriya went to
court and discussed the contents of a letter to be sent to the IGP
thanking him for his prompt action. However, when the case was
called a report was submitted through a junior police officer
which revealed that Wedisinghe had acted in violation of the
written directions of the IGP.
contents of this report according to the BASL countermands the
directive of the IGP when he specifically requested that
Wedisinghe's original charge report against Arulpragasam be
Mohamed, P.C. told court that Warnakulasuriya had spoken to the
IGP and been assured by the Police Chief that Arulpragasam's name
would be withdrawn from the allegation made to Court.
had then requested the Magistrate to keep the case down and had
telephoned the IGP who expressed surprise at this turn of events.
As this situation concerns the independence of the Bar and the
right of its members to practice their profession it was decided
that office bearers of the Bar Association should meet the IGP in
person in his office.
meeting took place at the IGP's office and after having seen the
copy of the report filed in court that day, the Police Chief had
immediately ordered DIG Thangavelu, Head of the Legal Division of
the Police to proceed to court and inform court of the position of
the IGP on this matter.
the case was called, DIG Thangavelu stated to Court that it was
the opinion of the IGP that Mr. Arulpragasam had discharged his
professional duty as required of him to do so and that he had not
obstructed in anyway ASP Wedisinghe or the police party which went
to arrest Mr. Ravi Karunanayake.
Also, that the police do not intend to act against
Arulpragasam or to conduct any investigation against him. DIG
Thangavelu further requested court to delete Arulpragasam's name
from the report as a suspect in purportedly having obstructed the
police in the discharge of their duty.
The Sunday Leader
C. C. C. Building
121, Sir James Peiris Mawatha
in controversial lease deal
refer to the page 1 leading story under the above caption which
appeared in your newspaper of June 27th 2004.
wish to inform you that your statement that her Excellency the
President has ordered the said Hatton National Bank Building be
leased out to house the Public Security, Law and Order Ministry is
correct position is as follows:
I was Secretary of the Information and Telecommunication Ministry
I explored the possibility of moving out from the West Tower of
the Twin Building of the World Trade Center where the Ministry was
located due to exorbitant rent paid by the Ministry with a notice
for further increase of rent, in addition to payment for parking
space and electricity etc. The Ministry called for quotations by
publishing an advertisement in the newspapers (annexed) for this
purpose. Thereafter a Ministry Tender Board (MTB), under the
Chairmanship of the Additional Secretary, with Deputy Director
Planning, Chief Accountant of the Information and
Telecommunications Ministry and a representative from the Treasury
said MTB decided that the HNB Building was the only suitable
building offered by the bidders but rent/lease of Rs. 21 million
per annum offered by the HNB was high and negotiations at a very
senior level, both from the Ministry and bidder must take place.
the recommendation of the MTB, I negotiated with the Management of
the HNB for a reduction of rent. The final offer given by them was
Rs. 16.5 million per year and I did not pursue this matter beyond
the meantime, the Presidential Secretariat had requested two
floors of this building for their use, in the event of our leasing
this building, as they needed additional space.
before I left the Ministry the subject file on this matter was
called for by the Secretary to the President to enable him to
negotiate for the rent of the building and the file was sent
am not aware of the developments thereafter until I learnt from
your report referred to above.
must stress that the Ministry of Public Security, Law and Order
did not lease the above premises and I had no involvement in
finalizing any lease agreement with HNB
shall be thankful if you would kindly publish this reply in your
newspaper of July 4th, 2004 and give equal publicity thereto as
given by your news item.
Ministry of Public Security, Law and Order.
affidavit by Harsha Wickramasinghe
Wickramasinghe of 15/3, Barnes Place, Colombo 7 being a Buddhist
do hereby solemnly sincerely and truly declare and affirm as
I am 65 years old and I am a retired public servant with
over 30 years of service in the public sector and I state the
following from my personal knowledge and on my own free will.
I was the Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Consumer
Affairs during the period of December 2001 to April 2004.
Without any prior notification, on 27th May 2004, ASP C. E.
Wedisinghe and IP Ruwan Gunasekera came to my residence at
approximately 10 am and requested me to make a statement in
relation to taking on lease premises bearing 234, Vauxhall Street,
Colombo 2 by the Ministry of Commerce and Consumer Affairs on 21st
At the outset, ASP C. E. Wedisinghe and IP Ruwan Gunasekera
stressed that there was sufficient evidence to arrest me for
committing an offence under the Offences Against Public Property
Act if I do not comply with their request to make a statement then
Under these circumstances, fearing for my wellbeing and
freedom, I agreed to make a statement. ASP C. E. Wedisighe and IP
Ruwan Gunasekera then proceeded to record my statement. During the
recording of the statement, I informed them that I have been
recently diagnosed as suffering from diabetes and had an
appointment with my doctor at 1.30 pm on that day. However, this
was disregarded by them.
I was questioned for five and a half hours (10am to 3.30
pm) with no break or even an opportunity to have lunch.
I was questioned by both ASP C. E. Wedisinghe and IP Ruwan
Gunasekera in English and I responded to them in English. However,
I noted that my statement was translated and transcribed in
Sinhalese by IP Ruwan Gunasekera.
Towards the end of the questioning, I began to feel faint
and physically unwell due to the intense pressure of being
continuously questioned for five and a half hours. I conveyed this
to ASP C. E. Wedisinghe and IP Ruwan Gunasekera but they continued
to question me. At the end of the questioning they instructed me
to sign the statement without having read or explained its
contents to me or giving me an opportunity to read it.
I have now perused the documents filed in court by the
police, and especially the summary of the statement purported to
have been made by me. I was surprised and perturbed to note that
the said summary contained statements not made by me as well as
Based on this, I believe that the statement of 27th May
2004 was translated and transcribed incorrectly by IP Ruwan
Gunasekera. I therefore believe that it may contain references to
the effect that:
the Former Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Ravi
Karunanayake influenced and pressurised me to take on lease
premises bearing 234, Vauxhall Street, Colombo 2;
proper procedures were not followed in leasing the above
I categorically state that:
(a) at no stage did the
former Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Ravi Karunanayake
bring any undue influence or pressure on me to take on lease the
said premises bearing 234, Vauxhall Street, Colombo 2, and
(b) that proper
procedures were followed when leasing the above premises.
I state that the said statement was obtained from me by ASP
C. E. Wedisinghe and IP Ruwan Gunasekera under duress and threat
Signed and affirmed at
Colombo on this 27th day of June 2004.
Before me, Commissioner
For Oaths K. Upendra Gunasekera, Attorney-at-Law, Notary Public
& Commissioner for Oaths, 135-1/3, Goonasinghepura Office
Complex, St. Sebastian Street, Hulftsdorp, Colombo 12, Sri Lanka.
for IGP's explanation
National Police Commission, Ranjit Abeysuriya said, "I have
called for a report from the IGP asking him to explain the
officer's conduct of how he acted and under whose authority he did
Police Commission Chief reiterated that Wedisinghe on the face of
it appears to have acted incorrectly in the case involving Ravi
Karunanayake. Abeysuriya further reiterated that even DIGs in the
police force have voiced puzzlement with regard to this particular
unit saying there seems to be no clear guidelines or objectives by
which it has been established.
however asserted the IGP is free to assign and deploy police
officers to carry out investigations on any particular case.
"The permission of the Police Commission is needed only when
it comes to a transfer," he said.
is of the view that this particular unit is "an ad-hoc
one" put together for this case only. If, on the other hand,
this same unit is to probe other cases as well then it cannot
function in such an ad-hoc manner, Abeysuriya said.