Sri Lanka’s chief of defence staff Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne gave half a million rupees in cash has been taken from the accounts of the Navy to help the main suspect in the abduction and murder of 11 children escape arrest, the Colombo magistrate was told Wednesday. It is learned that powerful politicians of Mahinda government who had given full blessing to such abductions and killing are now protecting the suspects with the support of current PM or the President.
The Colombo Fort Chief Magistrate’s Court had previously issued an open warrant for the arrest of the suspect, while the Court of Appeal too had issued a similar warrant, in connection with the murder case of former Parliamentarian Nadaraja Raviraj.
Admiral Wijegunaratne was caught on camera in December 2016 assaulting a television journalist at the Hambantota harbour, but despite a huge public outcry, President Maithripala Sirisena granted him an extension of service and later promoted him CDS.
His successor Travis Sinniah took office in August last year pledging no forgiveness for his officers who may have committed crimes taking the cover of the island’s drawn out separatist war. But Sinniah, regarded as one of the most honourable officers in service, was terminated in just two months after he was denied an extension of service.
The CID has uncovered chilling details of how children and young men of wealthy families were abducted for ransom by a gang of navy officers, allegedly led by Hettiarachchi, and subsequently killed after holding them at naval facilities in Colombo and Trincomalee between 2008 and 2009. Hettiarachchi is the main suspect in the abduction and disappearance of 11 youths in Colombo and suburban areas during 2008-2009. Eleven boys including six international school students and five university students were abducted from Kotahena and Dehiwala areas to extort money from parents. However, it is not ascertained yet whether the abducted youth are still living or dead.
A Sri Lankan court today remanded the former navy intelligence officer who was arrested by the Criminal investigations Department (CID) on Monday in connection with the abduction and disappearance of 11 youths. Colombo Fort Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne ordered former Navy Lieutenant Commander Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi to be remanded until the 29th of this month when he was produced before the court today. Several Navy officers, including former Navy Spokesman, Commodore D.K.P. Dissanayake, who were arrested in this connection, are currently out on bail.
The CID further informed the court that a high ranking Navy officer has given the suspect Rs. 500,000 before he left the country and the money has been taken from the accounts of the Navy. Considering all the facts, Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne ordered the Bank of Ceylon to provide all the information regarding the relevant bank account to the CID. The magistrate also ordered the CID to arrest any official who may have helped the suspect to obtain a false national ID and a passport.
The CID making submissions to Court said the suspect on 17 April last year had prepared a fake National Identity Card and a passport under the name of Polwattagallage Ashoka. He had then gone to Malaysia and returned home in March this year.