Unsolved mysterious murders of Kahawatta 2008 – 2015

Fear Grips Kotakethana As Authorities Look On

by Waruni Karunarathne (Sunday Leader)

Fear started lingering once again in Kotakethana, Kahawatta when another mother and daughter reportedly had seen recently an unidentified armed man in their backyard which triggered their fear of the traumatic experience of murders in the past in that area. The Police Media Unit reported that around 400 police and Police Special Task Force personnel were deployed soon after the incident was reported. However, the police could not arrest any suspect.

A protest in Kahawatte blocking the Embilipitiya- Ratnapura Road over the court decision to acquit the three accused charged with killing two women at Kotakethana in 2012.

People in Kotakethana had undergone a traumatic experience of several murders including three double murders starting from 2008 – but none of the cases has been solved yet. Upon an inquiry made by The Sunday Leader, the Police Media Unit provided an update of the 15 incidents that had taken place in Kotakethana since 2008. Much to the disappointment of the people, it was revealed that not a single culprit in connection with those murders has yet been punished.

Many people have been criticising the country’s serious lack of law enforcement which has encouraged a culture of impunity that gives immunity to perpetrators. When the legal system in the country is accused of allowing perpetrators walk away scot-free, women in Kotakethana continue to live in fear constantly worrying about being raped and killed at any time of the day. Kotakethana, Kahawatta was turned into a killing field, yet not much has been done to take away the fear instilled in the hearts of people in Kotakethana to date.

A 63-year-old mother and her 33 year-old daughter were found murdered and burnt inside their residence in Kotakethana, Kahawatte on June 17, 2012.

A 63-year-old mother and her 33 year-old daughter were found murdered and burnt inside their residence in Kotakethana, Kahawatte on June 17, 2012.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Attorney-at-Law Ravindranath Dabare said that most of the time accused cannot be made guilty of the crimes when it comes to murder incidents as there are no eyewitnesses. He added that even though evidence based on DNA are considered circumstantial evidence, based on DNA evidence alone, a judgment cannot be given.

According to him, even if DNA evidence comes out as positive, an accused will be able to challenge the sampling procedures of the evidence. He added that in a similar case, DNA evidence will only be a single fact which will not stand alone, and therefore, the suspect cannot be proven guilty unless he/she is proven so beyond reasonable doubt. According to him, due to such reasons, if the victim is dead, the suspects can walk away scot-free if there are no eyewitnesses.

Due to such reasons and lack of evidence, some of the arrested suspects in connection with some of the Kotakethana murders had been acquitted – which explains the extent of fear experienced by the people in the area. Thus, the Kotakethana murders still remain mysteries. Most of the time, rape and murder cases are pending in courts for many years because of various delays in the legal procedures. The Prime Minister had earlier promised that special courts will be established to hear cases of rape and sexual abuses to expedite hearing the backlog of cases which, however, has not yet been materialised.

List of Kotakethana incidents and updates on them:

1. 21/7/2008 – 56-year-old Sellaiya Mariyai, a resident of Opawatta in Kotakethana, was murdered. One suspect was arrested, and he is currently held in the remand prison. The case is postponed seeking the Attorney General’s advice till 2/11/2015.

2. 19/11/2008 – A 52-year-old female in Kotakethana, Kahawatta was murdered. Four suspects were arrested and later, following the Attorney General’s advice, the suspects were released on 06/7/2011 because of lack of evidence.

3. 4/6/2010 – A 48-year-old female in Kotakethana, Kahawatta was murdered. One suspect was arrested and is currently held in the remand prison. The case will be heard again on 02/11/2015.

4. 21/12/2010 – A 80-year-old female called Heenmenika, a resident of Dimbulwela, Kahawatta, was murdered. One suspect was arrested, and the case is due to be heard again on 02/11/2015.

5. 3/4/2011 – A 66-year-old female called Karunawathi was murdered in Kahawatta. One suspect was arrested on 7/7/2011, and he is being held in the remand prison. The case is postponed till 17/11/2015 seeking the Attorney General’s advice.

6. 30/5/2011 – A 85-year-old female called Disanayake Mudhiyanselage Heenmenike, a resident of Nugawela, Kahawatta, was murdered. One suspect was arrested and was later released on bail .The case is postponed to 23/11/2015 seeking the Attorney General’s advice.

7. 18/6/2011 – A 56-year-old female called Jayanthi Menike, a resident of Dimbulwela, Kahawatta, was murdered. One suspect was arrested and is currently held in the remand prison. The case is due to be heard again on 23/11/2015.

8. 15/12/2011 – A 69-year-old female called Bandara Menike, a resident of Opathapara, Kotakethana, Kahawatta, was murdered. One suspect was arrested and is currently held in the remand prison. The case has been directed to the High Court to be heard on the 23/11/2015.

9. 31/1/2012 – A double murder took place in Pansala Para, Kotakethana, Kahawatta. A 19-year-old female called Kavindya Chathurani and a 52-year-old female called Nayana Nilmini were murdered. Four suspects including one female suspect were arrested. However, one suspect was later released on bail following which he went missing. Another suspect has been acquitted by the Attorney General. The case is ongoing in the Colombo High Court.

10. 30/5/2012 – Another double murder took place in Warapitiya, Pansalapara, Kahawata. A 61-year-old female called Dayawathi and a 53-year-old female called Thilakawathi were burnt to death inside their house. One suspect was arrested and was later released on bail. The suspect later committed suicide. The case has been postponed since the accused was dead.

11. 19/7/2012 – Another double murder took place in Kotakethana, Kahawatta. A 63-year-old female called Premawathi and her daughter Pushpakumari were murdered. Three suspects were arrested and later on 28/5/2015, all the suspects were acquitted following a High Court order.

12. 31/10/2012 – A 66-year-old female called Chandrawathi, a resident of Warapitiya in Kahawatta, was murdered. No suspect has been found. The police have presented the fact sheet to the court and the investigations are still underway.

13. 21/10/2014 – A 31-year-old female called Thilakarani, a resident of Opathawatta, Kotakethana, was murdered. Two suspects were arrested, and they are currently held in the remand prison. The case was to be heard on 5/10/2015.

14. 4/4/2015 – A 39-year-old female called Swaranalatha, a resident of Kotakethana, was murdered. Suspects were arrested and are currently held in the remand prison. The case was due to be heard on 5/10/2015.

15. 28/9/2015 – A 48-year-old female called Naagampapu, a resident of Kotakethana, was murdered. No suspect has been arrested. The police had presented a fact sheet to the court and the investigation is still underway.

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