Defence / News Features

Extra judicial killings
Is the State complacent?

By Gihan Indraguptha and Santhush Fernando
“There is a zone of impunity with regard to extra judicial killings in Sri Lanka. There is a serious investigative vacuum in relation to all actors involved in Sri Lanka. The police appear to have lost the appetite to sustain investigations and there is a serious lack of confidence in the police ability to investigate.” Phillip Alston – UN Special Rappateur on Extra Judicial Killings.
Several serious violent incidents which occurred in the country during the last few months remain unresolved casting a shadow over the law enforcement authorities and their ability to uphold the rule of law. The credibility of the police and the government is at stake. If Sri Lanka is to prevent getting isolated as it did in the early 1980s, then the government needs to act earnestly and the many branches of the law need to show that justice is still alive and functioning.
Trincomalee massacre-
January 2, 2006.
Five youth were brutally assassinated in Trincomalee. The finger of responsibility for the deaths was directed at the STF despatched to Trinco. To this day not a single individual has been produced for this crime. (See AG’s letter to IGP above).
When there’s a will to resolve a crime, the police have done so in remarkably quick time. They uncovered the details leading to the murder of High Court Judge Sarath Ambeypitiya. Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, Solicitor General C. R. De Silva and others expedited the probe.
In the Hokandara murder case, new technologies were used to link the murderers to the scene of the crime.
05 headless bodies- April 27
Five decapitated male corpses were found in Kaduwela and Avissawella. It is alleged that the bodies are of Tamils who have been arrested during searches conducted after the assassination attempt on Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka. They are learnt to have disappeared from Colombo. Five headless bodies found were only partially clothed, belonged to males, and have serious cut injuries to the bodies. Later one body was handed over to Sandanam Mahalingam, who claimed that it belonged to his son, Mahalingam Narendran. The Avisawella Magistrate ordered the police to hand over the body to be cremated at Madampitiya cemetery in Colombo. Meanwhile, the Ruwanwella Magistrate ordered a DNA test on another body. Relatives have identified him as Sivasamy Sukumar of Grandpass.
Kayts massacre - May 13
Gunmen suspected to be from the Navy from the Mandaithivu camp surrounded a civilian house in Allaipiddy in Mandaithivu islet, and opened fire killing 08 civilians. Three seriously wounded persons were rushed to Jaffna hospital where one of them succumbed to his injuries. Jaffna Magistrate ordered the police to provide security to the ambulance from Jaffna hospital. Later the same day three civilians belonging to another family were massacred. Kayts District Court Judge, Mr. Jeyaraman Trotsky had reprimanded the CID for attempting to cover up the investigations. Close relatives of the murdered, had told Judge Trotsky during the deposition they gave on May 19, that they can identify the two sailors.
Vankalai- June 8-
Unidentified persons armed with guns and knives kill four members of the same family Bootprints and a miltary badge with star were reportedly found at the massacre site. Eyewitnesses in the area, Thomaspuri Ward No 10 in Vankalai, have told Mannar Additional Magistrate that they could identify the soldiers involved in the massacre. Villagers alleged the mother was raped before the massacre. Local residents and eye witnesses told Mannar Additional Magistrate Mr. T. J. Prabakaran who went to the scene of the murders that they had seen three Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers in uniform around 10 a.m.
Pesalai- June 17
Sailors of the Sri Lanka Navy allegedly shot and killed four fishermen at the shores of Pesalai in Mannar and lobbed grenades into the Church of Our Lady of Victory in Pesalai, killing a woman and wounding at least 44 persons. This followed a naval battle with the Sea Tigers.
Lakmal Sampath de
Silva- July 2
Two intelligence officers, a lieutenant and a private attached to regular forces were arrested for the abduction and killing of defence correspondent Lakmal Sampath but so far investigations have yielded nothing. During questioning of the suspects it transpired that the journalist had stated that he knew the identities of the perpetrators of the Avissawella killings, which is thought to be the reason for his killing. Meanwhile many influential persons had attempted to tamper with the investigations the police had stated. The original team which carried out the investigation was removed and a new group was put in charge. Furthermore, a former head of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) was also blocking investigations, police sources said.
The mother of the journalist Rupa Silva was been intimidated by certain interested parties that wanted their names exonerated from the killing, The Nation learns.
Amnesty International has castigated the Sri Lankan government as having a record of “disturbing pattern of incomplete or ineffective investigations” of the “widespread extrajudicial killings.”