Police sleuths of Colombo Crime Division (CCD) inquiring into a complaint lodged by a restaurant owner have identified 4 suspects who may be involved with controversial "White Van" incidents. According to the police sources the suspects include two police personnel of Ministerial Security Division (MSD) and two civilians having close connections with the opposition party politicians. Police further suspect a possible politically backed conspiracy in this incident to bring discredit to the present secretary of defence.
According to the CCD sources, the owner of a restaurant had lodged a complaint at the police station Dehiwala that an armed gang calling themselves to be in the security detail of Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa had attacked his restaurant on 29 July 2008. The complaint further said that the gang had arrived in a white coloured van.
According to the details uncovered by the police so far, the gang of four arrived at a family restaurant named The Station, at No 41/1, Wasala Para, Dehiwala, around 10 PM on Tuesday (July 29) . The gang ordered hard liquor and remained there till about 11.10 PM when the restaurant staff requested them to foot the bill. At that time, the gang started beating the staff members and damaging the properties of the restaurant. One of the gang members identifying him as sergeant Kaluarachchi drew a pistol and threatened one of the staff members holding it against his ear that he would be killed at once. Then they terrorised the guests and the staff shouting loudly that they were "men of Gotabaya Rajapaksa" and also robbed 11,500 rupees from the cashier and they made off in the White Van they had come. The restaurant owner complained that the gang had caused a damage amounting to 19,600 rupees.
Later, the police traced the vehicle and found out that it was one of the cabs belonging to a call cab service called City Cabs. Then, the police traced the driver of the vehicle on the day of the attack and upon his arrest the four main suspects were taken into custody .
The suspects have been identified as Police Sergeant, U.L.W Jayakody Wijerathne, no 52669 , Police Constable, S.M.C.P Sakalasooriya , no 37012, J.A Sudarshana Jayasinghe, a civilian and Subaideen Saknus , a civilian .
While questioning the suspects, police have found that it was Sergeant Jayakodi Wijerathne who had identified him as Sergeant Kaluarachchi and led the attack. Also, it was he who had wielded the pistol and called the gang to be the men of Gotabaya. Interestingly , police have found that this suspects is working in the personal security detail of Kurunegala district United National Party (UNP) MP, Akila Viraj. Also, it was found that MP Akila Viraj had personally requested the accused Sergent Wijerathne for his security detail from the MSD, as Wijerathne was well known to him, as they had been classmates.
Police Constable, S.M.C.P Sakalasooriya, the other police personnel allegedly involved in the incident have found to be a member of the personal security detail of leader of the opposition and UNP MP , Ranil Wickramasinghe. He has been in MP Wickramasinghe's security detail since 2002 when the MP was the Prime Minister of the country.
The two civilian suspects were also identified as two henchmen of opposition party politicians. The suspects have been remanded until 15th August, and to be produced before an identification parade.
Police having considered how the whole incident had transpired and the developments going on at the political spheres suspect a possible politically backed conspiracy in the incident. Police are in the view that the malefactors had not carried out the attack under influence of liquor but with the good knowledge of what they had been doing. Particularly, Sergeant Jayakodi Wijerathne had his sense to pose him as Sergeant Kaluarachchi and to show that attack as one that had been carried out by the personal security guards of the Secretary of Defence. Also, police says that if the sole intention of the attackers was to rob money from the restaurant , it is obvious that they could have chosen some other way to identify themselves than identifying with the MSD, which has only handful of members.
Hence, police say that the attackers had acted in malice to bring discredit to Defence Secretary and his personal security squad. Had the police failed to nab the malefactors, the incident could have been easily exploited by the pro LTTE media and slanderous newspapers sponsored by political parties to carryout character assassination campaign against the Defence Secretary and the security forces personnel as well. Possible political conspiracy to engineer a scandal against Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa cannot be ruled out, the police added.
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