Johnston, Kahandagama named suspects in protest attack

  • Johnston’s ‘combative words’ sent for psychiatric, Govt Analyst evaluation
  • SLPP MP duo re-remanded till 8 June 

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

The Attorney General’s Department has informed the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court that former Minister and incumbent Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) MP Johnston Fernando, Colombo Municipal Councillor Mahinda Kahandagama, and two others have been named as suspects in the case filed with regard to the incidents of peaceful protestors being attacked by a group of SLPP supporters in Colombo on 9 May.

Additional Solicitor General Ayesha Jinasena PC also informed the Colombo Fort Chief Magistrate Thilina Gamage that a statement made by Fernando at the Temple Trees to the effect of “let’s get rid of this (the protest sites) if the President cannot”, on the day of the attacks, has been referred to two psychiatrists for expert opinion, adding that the same has also been referred to the Government Analyst.

The Chief Magistrate then ordered to further remand 13 suspects including SLPP MPs Sanath Nishantha Perera and Milan Jayathilake and Sri Lanka Podujana Education Services Union President Wasantha Handapangoda, who were remanded in connection with the attacks, until 8 June.

A group of SLPP supporters who had come to meet then-Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had attacked the “MynaGoGama” and the “GotaGoGama” protest sites in front of the Temple Trees and at the Galle Face Green, respectively, on 9 May. Following the attack, tense situations erupted in several parts of the country.

Furthermore, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) had, on 17 May, informed the Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena that they intended to record statements from seven MPs in connection with the investigation into the attacks. Out of the said MPs, Nishantha Perera and Jayathilake were arrested by the CID on 17 May. They were then produced before the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court on 18 May and then on 25 May. In addition, several other suspects were arrested by the CID and the latest group of arrestees included Handapangoda, who were arrested by the CID on Tuesday (31).