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Civil group demands HRCSL intervention in Madush killing

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…asks for an end to taking suspects out without court approval

By Shamindra Ferdinando

It is being asked in legal circles whether there have been lapses on the part of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), conducting investigations, as regards the criminal gang led by Samarasinghe Arachchige Madush Lakshitha aka Makandure Madush, who had been in the custody of the CID since May 5, 2019.

The CID handed over Madush to the CCD on Oct 16 on a directive given by Acting IGP C.D. Wickramaratne.

The CID is also embroiled in controversy over the controversial release of Easter Sunday suspect Riyaj Bathiudeen. Its former bosses are subjected to an internal inquiry.

Authoritative police sources acknowledged that the CID hadn’t made significant recoveries during the period (May 5, 2019-Oct 16, 2020) Madush was in its custody in terms of Detention Orders.

Within 36 hours after the CCD took over the investigation, interrogation of Madush and another notorious gangster Shabdeen Mohamed Zubair led to the recovery of 10 kilos of heroin stashed in a garage in Kotikawatte.

Police spokesman attorney-at-law Ajith Rohana yesterday (23) said that simultaneous questioning of the suspects facilitated the latest recovery. DIG Rohana said that Zubair had been among four persons taken into custody at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) on Aug 23, 2020 when they were about to leave the country.

Zubair had been previously described as a close associate of late Angoda Lokka who died in India under mysterious circumstances recently.

DIG Rohana said that the CCD made a major breakthrough when Zubair and Makandure Madush were questioned together.

In two audio clips released to the media on Oct 17 and 20, DIG Rohana explained how Madush had been caught up in a firefight between policemen accompanying Madush to an apartment in the Maligawatte police area in the early hours of 20th. Reference was made to interrogation of Zubair and Madush leading to the recovery of 10 kg of heroin stashed in a garage at Kotikawatte. During the raid on the apartment, the CCD recovered 22 kg of heroin, according to the police spokesman.

Arrested in Dubai on Feb 5, 2019, Madush was handed over to Sri Lanka on May 5, 2019. Among those who had been arrested along with Makandure Madush in Dubai were notorious gangster Mohamed Najeem Imran alias ‘Kanjipani Imran’, a 52-year-old Prisons Department officer, singer Amal Perera and his son, Nadeemal, also upcoming member of the music industry.

DIG Rohana, in his first comments in the wake of Maligawatte shooting alleged that Makandure Madush had been involved in a spate of killings, including 2006 hit on Chairman of Southern Development Authority Danny Hittatiya. He was killed on July 11, 2006 near his residence at Makandure, Matara. In May last year, the police arrested Sunil Premaratne alias ‘Eta Indika’ widely described as a close associate of Makandure Madush in connection with Danny Hittatiya’s killing.

The police claimed that Harsha C. Yasashri, who had been involved in the Hittatiya killing was gunned down at Obeysekerapura, Rajagiriya on March 7, 2016. ‘Eta Indika’ and Yasashri are widely believed to be the hitmen responsible for Matara assassination ordered by Makandure Madush.

Meanwhile, the Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners yesterday (23) requested immediate intervention of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) to conduct a transparent inquiry into the Makandure Madush killing. Secretary of the rights group Sudesh Nandimal Silva told The Island that they handed over the complaint, in addition to it being emailed. Nandimal alleged law enforcement authorities were making an attempt to suppress the truth.

Attorney-at-law Senaka Perera, who is the President of the Committee, and its Secretary Nandimal Silva, in a joint letter addressed to HRCSL Chairman alleged that law enforcement authorities killed and subjected those in their custody to torture in violation of 13(4) of the country’s Constitution. Pointing out that there had been spate of extra-judicial killings during 2010-2015 period, they alleged that the recent killing of Makandure Madush was an extension of the previous government policy. They emphasised that killings in police custody couldn’t be justified under any circumstances.

The Committee reminded the HRCSL of its responsibility to ensure the protection of those in government custody.

Having explained how the country violated both local and international laws as regards those in government custody, the committee requested the HRCSL to recommend the contentious practice of taking suspects on missions to recover weapons or other items without having prior approval of the judiciary.

The committee warned that the failure on the part of the government to ensure the protection of those in its custody would cause deterioration of public confidence in the legal system.



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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