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News


Police seek public support to catch commando extortionist

By Ayesha Wijeratne
Police are seeking public cooperation to arrest an ex-Army Commando Widanagamage Sampath Chaminda (34), who escaped from the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID) custody at Kadawatha on February 11. He is wanted for being involved in terrorist activities and extortion.

The suspect had been living in Suripaluwa, Kadawatha for about three years after leaving his hometown at Pansalewatta, Imaduwa, Galle. He had served the Army Commando Regiment as a Lance Corporal eight years ago. Suspect Sampath had last served in the Army Commando Regiment Camp at Ganemulla before he deserted his unit.

Police sources said Sampath is one of the accomplices of Maj. Manamendra Dassanayake who is now in remand for allegedly aiding and abetting the LTTE in the assassinations of Lieutenant General Parami Kulathunga Deputy Chief of Staff of Army, and Lieutenant Colonel Tuan Nizam Muthaliff Intelligence Officer.

The attempt made by the TID to arrest Sampath at Suripaluwa in Kadawatha had been unsuccessful as he fled away evading the police.

Highly placed police sources told The Nation that investigations had revealed that suspect had been involved in terrorist activities and large-scale extortion in Colombo and suburbs. In one case, he had collected a ransom of Rs. 40 million after abducting Tamil businessman Gandhi Dasan at Ward Place in 2006.

Major Dassanayake and nine Army deserters who are his accomplices were declared wanted by the Police in the first quarter of 2007 and three of the suspects had been arrested. The others, including Sampath had been evading arrest.

On a tip off, the TID had been able to apprehend Sampath at the Bandaranaike International Airport while he was trying to go abroad using a forged passport with a bogus name. Under interrogations Sampath had allegedly revealed that he was involved in another ransom taking case at Hekithha area in Wattala where he had obtained Rs. 8 million by abducting a Tamil businessman in March 2008.

Again in the same month, Sampath had allegedly abducted a leading businessman at Negombo and taken Rs. 2 million from him, interrogations have revealed.
On February 11, when Sampath was being taken to a place where he had bought a new land at Kadawatha, and built a house using the monies he took as ransom, for further inquiry he had given the slip to TID.

Investigations have revealed that he had kept the abducted victims in houses rented in areas such as Kadawatha, Negombo etc.

A top TID Officer told The Nation that the public not to be hesitant to provide information to the TID, CID or CCD, in connection with any case of ransom taking. Due to public fear, they are often unable to take any proper actions against extortionists since many victims are afraid to come forward.

The Police described the suspect as a slim person of 5.7 in height. He was wearing a green short sleeved T-shirt with a black trouser at the time of escape from the Police.
Police request the public to provide information on Widanagamage Sampath Chaminda on 011-2451631, 011-2451634, 011-2344404, 2451636, 011-2321838 (fax).