Prison Murders: Tasty, meaty bone for MR (&) henchmen

Not even an ocean of blood can drown the truth

By Bandara (Ceylon Today)

The past week went by together with the gruesome assassination of an underworld gang leader. Not only the gang leader Samayan but seven others paid with their lives in this tragedy. In the face of this Chicago type shooting and cruel murder, not providing the protection of either the Police or the Army for the security of the prisoners is a serious problem that crops up. In addition it is reported that in the other bus that followed the prison bus for security there were several prison officers with T-56 weapons in hand.

However, media reports stated that, none of those firearms had been used to return fire. Although finger pointing and various instances of assigning blame is going on regarding not providing Police protection, it is amazing that the weapons in hand had not been used even for their own protection. Anyhow it is true that this cruel assassination had been one that had been carried out with careful prior planning. The assassins engaged in shooting in a fearsome manner without any apprehension or doubt and even climbing onto the prison bus and dragging Samayan to the front footboard before shooting him in the forehead, according to media reports. Another point that was mentioned here was that the suspect who was murdered, Samayan was not handcuffed. At that moment Samayan did not have any type of shackles on.

Theme cartoon added by TW from Daily FTUntitled-5

Those in prison are individuals who have been punished for crimes committed or are the accused. Some have been sentenced to long terms in prison. Some others have even been sentenced to death. All of these persons are in the custody of the government. In others the government must provide protection for all.

This suspect Samayan was the target of a shooting prior to this as well when he was shot at, at the Kaduwela Magistrate’s Court.

A woman was shot at opposite the Welikada Prison in the mistaken belief that she was Samayan’s wife and the perpetrators had fled.

It is clear that these prior incidents have not been taken into consideration at all when transporting these suspects. There are many instances reported previously where attempts had been made to murder individuals near Courts and various other venues.

During one instance, there was a proposal that hardcore criminals of the underworld should not be transported to Courts in other places for judicial hearings. A very strong proposal sought Courts to be established within prisons for judicial hearings relating to hardcore criminals. It was said that Courts were established within prisons. However, that very valid proposal was not implemented and was killed off on the spot.

The indelible black mark in history regarding the protection of prisoners existed during the administration of Mahinda Rajapaksa.

09 November 2012 was the date of the indelible black mark in history regarding the prisons’ murders.

Welikada Prison massacre

A group of soldiers, who entered the Welikada Prison, killed 27 detainees who were inside. During this gruesome operation it was reported that 43 persons were injured. It was said that this was carried out in a well planned manner.

There were reports that the names of detainees were called out according to a list and they were taken to a side and shot to death.

Attention was focused on this mass murder at Welikada not only in Sri Lanka but internationally as well. It happened thus because detainees in the custody of the government were murdered using government troops. Therefore, it was essential to conduct investigations regarding these horrific murders. However, during the Rajapaksa era, these investigations were carried out in a manner that did not reveal those at fault. Not even one report on the investigations saw the light of day during that administration.

Then Minister of Rehabilitation and Prisons Chandrasiri Gajadheera appointed a committee to inquire into this incident. The committee comprised retired High Court Judge Bandula Atapattu, Retired Deputy Inspector General of Police Gunasena Thenabadu and Legal Officer of the Ministry of Prison Reforms Lalith Andrahennadi. It was reported that the interim report of this committee was handed over in February 2013 and the final report was issued in November 2013. However, nothing ensued. All the investigative reports and commission reports on this incident carried out during the Rajapaksa era were shelved and suppressed.

In the meantime, under the new government of good governance of 2015, a new committee was appointed to produce a formal report regarding the Welikada Prison murders. This committee was appointed by then Minister of Justice and Prisons Affairs Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe. Chairman of the Committee was Retired High Court Judge Wimal Nambuwasam. The other members were, former Deputy Inspector General of Police Asoka Wijetilleke, and Retired Administrative Official Attorney-at-Law S. K. Liyanage. The appointing of this committee meant that the wish of those who knew the truth about these murders was fulfilled. Those who knew that the roots of these assassinations would never be unearthed because they were hidden well and truly under soil, revealed information with new enthusiasm in the face of this new committee.

The report of this committee was handed over to the government on 9 June 2015. However, even that report was shelved and suppressed similar to the investigation report of the Rajapaksa era.

While things that should never have happened were taking place, the recent murder in Kalutara of Samayan, became a very tasty, meaty bone for the Rajapaksa henchmen who were always waiting to attack the government with something in a planned manner.

They gleefully declared that the government has failed to control the underworld.

It is true. Then, Julampitiye Amare and others who brought the Police to their knees during the Rajapaksa era are not mentioned at all.

Underworld gang leader

There is not a word said about ‘Wambotta’ who was an underworld gang leader in the South, his activities and under whose shadow he existed then. Who provided political asylum for ‘Chandi Malli’…? Who made simple ‘Malli’ into ‘Chandi Malli’? Everyone remains mum on the fate that befell this individual in Colombo Fort.

All horrific activities carried out by regional politicians then, while being hand in hand with the underworld in the South have been forgotten. It is difficult to recall the manner in which the murder of Khuram Shaikh at a hotel in Tangalle and the rape of his Russian girlfriend, which remained under cover for a long time, were carried out as if they are suckling infants. It is as if the Welikada Prison murders did not take place at all. No one seems to remember who visited the prison to see Julampitiye Amare and others.

There are so many reports regarding the thuggery and degenerate activities that were carried out by the underworld under cover of politics. The doings and activities of regional politicians who behaved like underworld members were vast. All of that had been forgotten and now these people are talking about Samayan, obviously without any human love for Samayan. This procedure is being engaged in, to somehow raise themselves from the dumps and obtain power in any improper manner.

There was another huge controversy regarding an incident connected to the field of law and the Judiciary. That is the appointment of Ramanathan Kannan as a High Court Judge.

The individuals who challenged the government have forgotten the Parliamentary Court which was unprecedented in history, set up for removing former Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake from her post. They have forgotten how a certain Judge was asked to come to Temple Trees on her way back home from work and how she was granted a high position in the judiciary. The statement made in public regarding his regret on the verdict given by a former powerful figure in the Court has been forgotten.

President Maithripala Sirisena who participated in the National Law Conference held on Wednesday 15 February emphasized the fact that, he appointed Ramanathan Kannan as a judge of the High Court based on a written request made by the Bar Association and that it is legal.

Whatever the facts, the Judicial Services Association comprising of Magistrates and District Court Judges expressed serious opposition to this appointment.

It is the biggest responsibility of the government and the Police to carry out all investigations into the murder of Samayan in a proper manner and to take the assassins into custody. Just by taking these assassins into custody, a solution will not be obtained for this massive problem. In order to put a full stop to this huge tragedy those responsible in the government, prison, Judges of the Judiciary should get together at one table and hold discussions and implement a proper practical plan would be their responsibility. Activating Courts within prisons could be seen as some sort of a solution. Killing of prisoners or suspects provides room to avoid carrying out justice, destroy evidence and other criminals to escape the law.

During this terrible assassination of prisoners, the Welikada massacre has also come back to the stage. Therefore, the report of the three-member committee appointed in 2015 should be brought out into the open from wherever it is hidden and the recommendations therein should be implemented without delay. It should not be restricted only to payment of compensation.

Many of the points hidden in the report that was accepted should be revealed and implemented properly.

“Hidden truth sinks and is concealed in the earth nourishing it, but once again someday will see the sunlight.” This is a quote by George Keith. Therefore room should be granted for speaking about these deaths as well as those deaths. That is what the process of good governance is all about.

Renowned author Maxim Gorky has said, “Not even an ocean of blood can drown the truth”.