Monday, March 08, 2010

Six military ‘suspects’ detained over Lasantha’s killing

By Shamindra Ferdinando - Police spokesman SSP Prishantha Jayakody yesterday (March 6) said that it was too early to say whether former Army Chief Gen. (retd) Sarath Fonseka would be questioned in connection with the ongoing investigation into the assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunga, the editor of The Sunday Leader.

He didn’t rule out the possibility of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) seeking a statement from Fonseka now held on conspiracy charges at navy headquarters.

He was responding to a Sunday Island query raised at a hastily called press conference at the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS),

Jayakody said that six army personnel had been detained in connection with the investigation. According to him, they were among 17 army personnel questioned by the CID recently regarding the killing. He stressed that the detained personnel were only suspects.

Wickremetunga was killed by an armed gang on January 8 last year as he drove to work. He died in hospital after nearly three hours of emergency surgery having suffered critical head wounds.

Gangs also attacked the then Rivira Editor, Upali Tennakoon and Keith Noyhar, Deputy Editor of The Nation as well as Namal Perera of the Sri Lanka Press Institute who was a freelance journalist.

The Opposition and the media rights groups had directly accused the UPFA government of targeting media personalities critical of the administration.

Asked whether the police could reveal whether those who had been so far questioned by the CID belonged to the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), the police spokesman said that they belonged to different units. He declined to identify the six personnel held by investigators or reveal other details but expressed confidence that a breakthrough could be made.

Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Prasad Samarasinghe denied reports that Maj. Gen. Amal Karunasekera, former head of the DMI, had been recalled from an overseas assignment and placed under house arrest. Samarasinghe said that a section of the media had reported that dozens of DMI personnel were held.

"Some said 30 and other 50 DMI personnel detained. They also reported that former DMI head was to be questioned," he said. Samarasinghe however acknowledged that Karunasekera was back in Colombo.

He said that during the war, the DMI played a vital role to eradicate the LTTE. Emphasizing the importance of the country’s premier intelligence gathering service, he said that the Army would cooperate with the investigators, though DMI could not be targeted as an institution.

Authoritative sources told The Sunday Island that Karunasekera had been asked to meet investigators to give them an opinion regarding ‘DMI activity.’ The bottom line is that he was here to assist the investigation not as a suspect, sources said.

They said that the government would not hesitate to take punitive action against security forces personnel found guilty of offences pointing out that during the war many officers and men, including some attached to intelligence services of the armed forces, were taken into custody over criminal offences.

MCNS Director General Lakshman Hulugalle urged the media to contact him or relevant spokesmen of the police and armed forces before they published any sensitive news item.

© The Island
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Bookmark and Share

No comments:

Post a Comment

© 2009 - 2014 Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  © Blogger template 'Fly Away' by 2008

Back to TOP