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Military Matters


 

A case of mistaken identity

Ice Manju
still WANTED

Speculation was rife this week that it was Ice Manju who was arrested while seeking medical treatment at a hospital in Kandy. But, whether this was the most wanted Ice Manju is in doubt. The suspect has been handed over to the CID and possibly the Special Branch there. Sleuths would use the latest technology and a DNA test was likely to be done to establish the identity of the suspect in custody.

Thirty-year-old Ice Manju has been a wanted man since October 29, 2005. Ice Manju is believed to have shot dead, at point blank range, Staff Officer of the Military Intelligence Corps, Colonel Tuan Rizli Meedin at Kiribathgoda.
He was spotted the very next day at Kantale and later on, on the Seruwila Road. Since then, Ice Manju has disappeared into LTTE-controlled Sampur, where LTTE Trincomalee Military Wing Leader Soosaipillai Joseph Anthonydas alias “Col.” Sornam, was operating from.

“Col.” Sornam was a prize catch and Col. Meedin and many others in the intelligence business were keen on getting him. The LTTE, in turn, was trying to eliminate Meedin and many other intelligence officers. In short, the Colonel and the self-styled Colonel were trying to get at each other but were using the same contact –Ice Manju, a Sinhalese.
He was playing the role of a double agent. After Meedin was killed by Ice Manju, as if to take sweet revenge, Sornam’s brother was eliminated the following year. Ever since, Sornam’s troubles have multiplied.

Ice Manju was promoted by the LTTE to the rank of “Major” and has been provided with a luxury vehicle and two body guards in the Wanni from where he operates after Sampur changed hands from the Tigers to the army on September 4, 2006.

Last year, he was located at Kurunegala by spies working for the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).
Speculation was rife this week that it was Ice Manju who was arrested while seeking medical treatment at a hospital in Kandy. But, whether this was the most wanted Ice Manju is in doubt. The suspect has been handed over to the CID and possibly the Special Branch there. Sleuths would use the latest technology and a DNA test was likely to be done to establish the identity of the suspect in custody.

Sleuths are also alive to reports that plastic surgery had been performed on at least one other person to create a look alike.
The authorities suspect the latest arrest could be a case of mistaken identity and the chances are that the mother would be traced in Dambulla in a bid to establish whether the suspect in custody is actually her son.

Who is Ice Manju?
Andrahennedige Chaminda Roshan alias Ice Manju is a Sinhalese, fair in complexion and standing at 5’ 7”. He earned the name Ice Manju from his ancestral parents at Gandara who had an Ice plant or factory (mola) deep down South.
There were many Sinhalese including the Galappathys from Gandara and other places in the South who migrated to Trincomalee where a thriving fish business was underway. Ice Manju is one of them. After his father divorced his mother, the latter who got re-married had settled in Dambulla.
Selin Kumar, another Sinhalese who had a thriving fish business had made Ice Manju his Manager. Around 2002-2003, during the UNF peace process, Ice Manju was taken to custody on alleged trumped up charges and he is learnt to have been sent to Boosa.

But, police insist that Ice Manju was an underworld gangster who was involved in criminal work.
The Ice Manju who was later released became a changed man and wanted to take revenge on the Sinhalese. He was fluent in Tamil and was an ideal candidate for the LTTE which tapped him. He proved to be an asset in the hands of the LTTE.
During times of peace, Velupillai Prabhakaran, the LTTE chief has a carved out plan of action that runs parallel to the process of peace. Often, this plan of action is ignored by many hoping to achieve the higher goal of peace.
The LTTE wanted to eliminate Tamil paramilitaries as much as possible. The Cease-fire Agreement had a clause to have Tamil paramilitaries disarmed within 30 days making them sitting ducks as we have seen.
The State was getting its act together regarding intelligence gathering and the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) had successfully undertaken missions previously. Hence the LTTE insisted on a clause in the CFA to stop all “activities by deep penetration units.”

But, Intelligence Officers and agents were singled out and eliminated very much during the peace process and in most cases the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission failed to rule on these killings, claiming that they did not fall within the SLMM ambit. In the case of Col. Meedin, the SLMM did rule the act a violation by the LTTE.
After, Mahinda Rajapaksa became the President with the help of the LTTE, which ensured a polls boycott of Tamils from uncleared areas, war was imminent and hence the LTTE went for the top officers of the army.
The modus operandi was changed to prevent suspicion. Hence, Sinhalese civilians and military officers were tapped to do the job.

One such officer is Major Piyasiri Perera who was sentenced to death by court martial for passing on information about senior officers’ movements to the LTTE. This column previously gave details of Major Perera’s arrest. (See box story for details of court martial order)
Meanwhile, Major Manamendra Dassanayake allegedly aided and abetted in the assassination of the Army’s No. 3, Major General Parami Kulatunga, promoted posthumously Lieutenant General. Dassanayake along with Ice Manju is learnt to have aided and abetted in eliminating Intelligence Officer Major Tuan Muthaliph who was posthumously promoted Lieutenant Colonel.
Ice Manju, a Sinhalese, with wide influence was tapped to liquidate Lt. Col. Meedin who was promoted posthumously a full Colonel.

In what appears to be a pre-meditated murder, Ice Manju silenced his victim, not after a heated argument following the consumption of alcohol, but in the course of friendly advice given by Meedin to his would-be assassin to flee the place.
Seated in the rear seat of Meedin’s car, driven by the army officer, Ice Manju said he was in serious debt and he hadn’t the money to flee to another country. Having said that, Manju pulled the trigger of his 7.62 Micro Pistol and shot his associate on Saturday night at 10:15 p.m. Meedin was taken to the National General Hospital in an unconscious state by his brother Brigadier Tuan Fardyle Meedin several hours after the shooting. He died there on Sunday morning at 1:30 a.m.
Ice Manju shot Meedin in the presence of a mutual friend Chamley who was in the front seat of his official car bearing number 19-5823.
Ice Manju obviously got to know Meedin through Chamley who operated a fish business from St. John’s market. Chamley’s two brothers, Kapila and Ranga, were based in Trincomalee where they supported the business. All three brothers are now in custody.
Ice Manju who had visited Chamley’s house before he made his way to Meedin’s place had allegedly hid the micro pistol in a pedestal fan.

He was on contract by the LTTE’s Colonel Sornam to kill Meedin two months after an LTTE big shot and his three body guards were killed in Nilaweli, Trincomalee.
Meedin had been warned by his superiors to be mindful of those whom he associated with. But, the nature of his work- intelligence gathering- necessitated that he moved with people of all strata.
On that fateful day, Meedin was expecting for dinner a former PLOTE cadre, his wife and three children who were leaving for an undisclosed overseas destination.

In the interim, Chamley came over with Ice Manju to meet Meedin at his residence in the Kiribathgoda Housing Scheme. After an hour’s discussion, the three left Meedin’s place in his car ostensibly to get a bite.
The conversation which centred on LTTE’s Trincomalee Wing Leader Col. Sornam was obviously quite interesting that every time Meedin’s wife called her husband, he had requested her to ask the guests to wait. Finally, Meedin had told them to have dinner and they had to leave as it was getting late.

It was only two hours after the killing that Chamley who knew Meedin’s wife, informed her of the killing using his own mobile. This prevented the injured officer from being rushed for medical treatment. It also gave the assassin enough time to escape the scene of the crime. The police have obtained the vehicle in which Ice Manju used to flee the scene of the crime.

He was spotted in Trincomalee and Kurunegala but has managed to escape arrest. There is grave doubt that the suspect arrested is actually Ice Manju, and it is a matter of time before the sleuths make a determination.
After all the investigations are completed, the Attorney General would have to take a decision based on evidence on whom to indict. Chamley was arrested two days after the incident in Kadawatha, and has been in custody since. Whether he can be used as a crown witness may also have to be considered.

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Open sesame to make a quick buck

Abductions for ransom have taken place in the past, but they were few and far between.
The names of Saman Kumara, G.C. Wickramasinghe and Lakshan Pradeep come to mind.
However, in the recent past, it has been an open sesame with abductions for ransom being conducted more frequently. After it came to light that a retired Sri Lankan Air Force officer Nishantha Gajanayake was behind some of the abductions, he was arrested and now is being grilled.

Many more top officers are also being interrogated and it is likely that a few big names would surface, if there is no interference and the sleuths are allowed to carry out their duties without impediment.
In this climate of impunity, besides military deserters, other junior ranking serving military personnel are also in the game to make a quick buck.

Last Thursday an SLAF person, Wijesundera Mudiyanselage Thushara Hemantha was produced before the Attanagalla Magistrate Courts (B 932) and remanded in connection with making threatening calls to several businessmen, demanding that money be deposited in specified bank accounts.
Investigations revealed that the suspect was using a pay phone box placed within the Vavuniya SLAF headquarters complex to make these threatening calls to several businessmen. Some had dismissed the whole exercise by requesting the caller to present his demand in person. To this, however, he was not willing to agree.

Yet, one such businessman from Veyangoda had taken the threatening calls seriously and informed the police. Hemantha’s original demand was 100 lakhs, which was later negotiated down to 20 lakhs.
The suspect had opened an account at the Kurunegala Branch of the Sampath Bank, using another SLAF person’s National Identification Card, which the suspect had tampered with to place his own photograph.
He used the same ID to obtain a Rs. 500 call card to make calls to the Veyangoda businessman. Besides Vavuniya numbers, there were calls made from Colombo as well. Sleuths were quick to figure out that these calls were made by the suspect when he was on leave. He has also forged a signature and has been using that since, to apply for credit cards and other documents.

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Major Perera sentenced to life

By Tissa Ravindra Perera
Major Piyasiri Perera, who faced charges on providing information to the LTTE, was court-martialled and sentenced to death. The sentence was, however, mitigated to a life imprisonment by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The court martial, presided over by Major General Rajitha Silva, which found the accused guilty of the charges, passed the death sentence. The report of the court martial was submitted to President Rajapaksa through the Army Commander.
Major Piyasiri Perera was charged with aiding and abetting the suicide cadre, who came to assassinate Commander of 112 Brigade in Colombo, Brigadier Mahinda Hathurusinghe and for filtering information on the movements of several senior military officials including Colonel Ralph Nugera and Lieutenant Duminda Amarasekara and on the nerve centre in the city. He was arrested at Buhari Hotel at Maradana in the company of a suicide cadre. Major Piyasiri Perera was attached to the Stanley Power Station at the time of arrest.

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Towards victory in the east

A fierce battle took place between security forces and the LTTE on Friday as troops commenced the final leg of their march to Thoppigala, the last LTTE stronghold in the Eastern Province, the military said.
Six soldiers, including an officer, died and seven others suffered injuries when the Tigers launched an attack using heavy mortars from a location west of Baron’s Cap (Thoppigala) at the troops deployed north of Narakamulla, the military added.
The military maintained that the security forces had retaliated using heavy weapons and fighter jets to bring the situation under control. Air raids are being conducted to assist the ground advance by destroying remaining terrorist positions, the military added.
Meanwhile, earlier in the week, the security forces captured an LTTE camp complex at Meenagam, east of Narakamulla. The camp complex around a mountain was deserted by the LTTE during the military offensive. The security forces are advancing in small groups and the service chiefs are hopeful that Thoppigala will fall to the security forces within a matter of days.

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Low key ceremonies mark Black Tiger Day

The LTTE marked Black Tiger Day on a low key note due to fear of air strikes. On July 5 each year, the LTTE commemorates its suicide cadres, better known as the Black Tigers who died fighting the Sri Lanka security forces. The pro-LTTE website Tamilnet reported that LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran had participated in a special commemoration event marking Black Tiger Day with several hundred Black Tiger cadres attending the event, which was held in the Wanni. He is said to have lit the ‘flame of sacrifice’ at 7:05 p.m. – the time of the death of first Black Tiger, ‘Captain’ Miller. A total of 322 Black Tigers have been killed in action since Captain Miller’s death in 1987 until June 30, 2007, according to the Tamilnet.

Twenty years ago, on July 5, 1987 the LTTE’s first Black Tiger ‘Captain’ Miller drove an explosive laden truck into an army camp, which housed troops taking part in Operation Liberation in Vadamaraadchi, killing more than 40 Sri Lanka Army troopers. Since his death, 81 Black Tigers – 63 men and 18 women, have died in action on land, and 241 cadres – 169 men and 72 women, have died at sea, according to the figures published by the Tamileelam Heroes Secretariat.

The Black Sea Tigers have been the main adversary of the Sri Lanka Navy, destroying numerous warships and killing hundreds of sailors at sea. The worst single attack on the Sri Lankan forces was carried out last year by a Black Tiger when he drove an explosives laden lorry into a naval convoy in transit at Digampatha, Habarana on the October 14, 2006. More than 100 sailors died in that incident with over 400 being wounded.

Black Tiger remembrance events were reported to have been held in several areas in the Wanni with sport events and public meetings being organised for the past five days. Usually, the event is used by the LTTE as an enrolment tactic with many programmes being held in schools to entice the youth to join the movement.

This year, however, the events were more subdued with most of the LTTE’s top leaders not taking part in the public events due to the fear of air strikes by the Sri Lanka Air Force. Last year’s Hero’s Day celebrations on November 26 was also held in a similar low key with many of the key events being organised at night, in order to avoid air strikes.

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