Fresh evidence surfaces over CDS collusion with abductors

By Santhush Fernando

Inquiries by the Police Criminal Investigations Department (CID) into the alleged unlawful abduction of 11 youths by Sri Lanka Navy operatives, have unearthed fresh evidence of former Navy Commander and incumbent Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Admiral Ravindra Wijeguneratne’s alleged links to the abductees, The Sunday Morning learnt.

Fort Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne was last Wednesday (10) informed that the CID managed to arrest its latest suspect – Kiringoda Gamage Laksiri Amaratunga – on charges of aiding and abetting a crime, harbouring an offender, intentional omission to give information, forgery and forgery of a public document, and fraudulent use of a forged document.

Additionally, the suspect had violated Section 45A (1) (d) of the Immigrants and Emigrants Act No. 20 of 1948 (read with and Amendments No. 16 of 1993, No. 42 of 1998, No. 31 of 2006 and No. 7 of 2015) which pertain to any person who forges, alters or tampers with any passport, whether issued in Sri Lanka or elsewhere, or any visa or endorsement thereon and is an unbailable offence.

Startling revelations were made to point out that the suspect Lt. Cmdr. Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi, who was attached to the Trincomalee Eastern Command Naval Base, had resided in the officers’ quarters at the base after fleeing lawful custody with the backing of certain officials of the Sri Lanka Navy, The Sunday Morning learnt.

The Police had brought to the notice of the court that Admiral Wijeguneratne had provided facilities, securities, and instructions to the suspect in order to avoid lawful arrest.

In addition, under the auspices of the Admiral, a sum of Rs. 500,000 had been handed over to the suspect by Rear Admiral Hettiarachchi from an account maintained by the Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, for the suspect to travel abroad, The Sunday Morning learnt.

Meanwhile, Amaratunga is said to have helped Lt. Cmdr. Hettiarachi, who was arrested on 13 September in Fort, to obtain a forged National Identity Card (NIC) bearing no. 763125XXXV under the false name of Polwatte Gallage Asoka. Using this passport, Hettiarachchi is to have flown to Malaysia and had stayed in that country on 8 March this year. Further details revealed that he was employed at the coconut estate at No. 66, Polgahagoda Watte, Keragala belonging to the suspect Laksiri Amaratunga.

Hettiarachi is to have obtained a false passport bearing no. N7014XXX and all documents submitted were found to be forged. In addition, searches conducted at No 66, Polgahagoda Watte, Keragala, belonging to the suspect Laksiri Amaratunga, revealed another NIC bearing no. 820292XXXV, belonging to a member of the Civil Defence Force (CDF), which was taken into police custody.

Inquiries from Loard Travel Services (Pvt.) Ltd. at Sir Razik Fareed Road, Colombo, have proven that Amaratunga was a regular customer of the travel firm and on behalf of Hettiarachchi had submitted the travel documents to be forwarded to the Malaysian High Commission on the pretext of the applicant (appearing by the false name of Polwatte Gallage Asoka) was employed as the Manager in Amaratunga’s companies.

Police also informed court that Amaratunga was deliberately lying in his statements in order to screen Hettiarachchi and had therefore directly aided and abetted Hettiarachchi.