White Van Death Squad exposed; police suspect political conspiracy
to discredit Defence Secretary
Police sleuths of Colombo Crime Division (CCD)
inquiring into a complaint lodged by a restaurant owner have identified
4 suspects who may be involved with controversial "White Van" incidents.
According to the police sources the suspects include two police
personnel of Ministerial Security Division (MSD) and two civilians
having close connections with the opposition party politicians. Police
further suspect a possible politically backed conspiracy in this
incident to bring discredit to the present secretary of defence.
According to the CCD sources, the owner of a
restaurant had lodged a complaint at the police station Dehiwala that an
armed gang calling themselves to be in the security detail of Defence
Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa had attacked his restaurant on 29 July
2008. The complaint further said that the gang had arrived in a white
According to the details uncovered by the police so
far, the gang of four arrived at a family restaurant named The Station,
at No 41/1, Wasala Para, Dehiwala, around 10 PM on Tuesday (July 29) .
The gang ordered hard liquor and remained there till about 11.10 PM when
the restaurant staff requested them to foot the bill. At that time, the
gang started beating the staff members and damaging the properties of
the restaurant. One of the gang members identifying him as sergeant
Kaluarachchi drew a pistol and threatened one of the staff members
holding it against his ear that he would be killed at once. Then they
terrorised the guests and the staff shouting loudly that they were "men
of Gotabaya Rajapaksa" and also robbed 11,500 rupees from the cashier
and they made off in the White Van they had come. The restaurant owner
complained that the gang had caused a damage amounting to 19,600 rupees.
Later, the police traced the vehicle and found out
that it was one of the cabs belonging to a call cab service called City
Cabs. Then, the police traced the driver of the vehicle on the day of
the attack and upon his arrest the four main suspects were taken into
The suspects have been identified as Police Sergeant,
U.L.W Jayakody Wijerathne, no 52669 , Police Constable, S.M.C.P
Sakalasooriya , no 37012, J.A Sudarshana Jayasinghe, a civilian and
Subaideen Saknus , a civilian .
While questioning the suspects, police have found that
it was Sergeant Jayakodi Wijerathne who had identified him as Sergeant
Kaluarachchi and led the attack. Also, it was he who had wielded the pistol
and called the gang to be the men of Gotabaya. Interestingly , police
have found that this suspects is working in the personal security detail
of Kurunegala district United National Party (UNP) MP, Akila Viraj.
Also, it was found that MP Akila Viraj had personally requested
the accused Sergent Wijerathne for his security detail from the MSD, as
Wijerathne was well known to him, as they had been classmates.
Police Constable, S.M.C.P Sakalasooriya, the other
police personnel allegedly involved in the incident have found to be a
member of the personal security detail of leader of the opposition and
UNP MP , Ranil Wickramasinghe. He has been in MP Wickramasinghe's
security detail since 2002 when the MP was the Prime Minister of the
The two civilian suspects were also identified as two
henchmen of opposition party politicians. The suspects have been
remanded until 15th August, and to be produced before an identification
Police having considered how the whole incident had
transpired and the developments going on at the political spheres
suspect a possible politically backed conspiracy in the incident. Police
are in the view that the malefactors had not carried out the attack
under influence of liquor but with the good knowledge of what they had
been doing. Particularly, Sergeant Jayakodi Wijerathne had his sense to
pose him as Sergeant Kaluarachchi and to show that attack as one that
had been carried out by the personal security guards of the Secretary of
Defence. Also, police says that if the sole intention of the attackers
was to rob money from the restaurant , it is obvious that they could
have chosen some other way to identify themselves than identifying with
the MSD, which has only handful of members.
Hence, police say that the attackers had acted in
malice to bring discredit to Defence Secretary and his personal security
squad. Had the police failed to nab the malefactors, the incident could
have been easily exploited by the pro LTTE media and slanderous
newspapers sponsored by political parties to carryout character
assassination campaign against the Defence Secretary and the security
forces personnel as well. Possible political conspiracy to engineer a
scandal against Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa cannot be ruled
out, the police added.