25th March 2001
While millions watched the opening of the
By Chris KamalendranA senior Customs officer involved in raids and probes on powerful business establishments was shot dead near his residence at Kiribathgoda yesterday — giving a horrific mafia type dimension to the crime wave and criminalisation of politics in Sri Lanka.
Customs Assistant Superintendent Sujith Rohana Perera was killed as he was driving his vehicle, when two persons on a motorcycle shot him through the rear window, police said.
The 33-year-old Customs officer, father of a one-and-a-half year-old baby, had reportedly received threatening calls telling him to stay out of certain investigations, Customs sources said.
They said the situation was so bad that family members had been trying to persuade him to give up the job and go abroad.
According to investigations, the Customs officer accompanied by his brother-in-law A.Wijegunatillake had left the residence around 7. 45 a.m. for an accountancy class in Kollupitiya.
The killers struck soon after that and the Customs officer's Nissan Bluebird vehicle then crashed into a nearby culvert.
Mr. Perera and his brother-in-law were rushed to the National Hospital but the Customs officer was pronounced dead on admission. Mr. Wijegunatillake was reported to be out of danger and was expected to give a statement to the police last evening.
Deputy Inspector General Daya Jayasundara who was personally directing investigations said yesterday a hunt was on for the killers but they were still not sure of the motive.
Mr. Perera recently was transferred to the Automated Data Processing
Unit of the Customs, but was also still assisting in investigations on
Minister and SLMC leader Rauf Hakeem told The Sunday Times that he would
be meeting President Kumaratunga soon to tell her that the Muslims had
their own aspirations and they must be a party to the talks from the beginning.
Addressing parliament on Friday, he hit out at the proposed MoU between
the Government and the LTTE, saying it as a ploy to save the heads of politicians
in the south. He said they would press for their demands including a Muslim
majority administrative district.
By Shelani de SilvaThe Water Board yesterday made an urgent appeal for all consumers to use water sparingly and warned that water cuts might have to be imposed in the Greater Colombo area within two weeks if the weather and the public response did not improve.
Water Board Additional General Manager Kithsiri Perera said it appeared that because of the extra hot weather, people were using water lavishly for bathing and other purposes while purified water from Ambatale was also being wasted on plants and vehicles.
Reports from provinces said several areas were experiencing major water shortages with cultivation being severely affected.
Meanwhile, an official of the Ceylon Electricity Board said they were
hopeful that monsoonal rains would come soon by May to help avert power
According to a senior officer at Police Headquarters, constables and others have not received new uniforms because of some problems over tenders.
He said the tender for the supply of 325,000 metres of khaki material — the annual requirement for the Police Department — had first been given to a Chinese firm and then to an Indian and again to a Chinese, but problems had arisen in all and none had delivered the goods.
Another tender had been signed in November last year and the stock was expected in June. Till then the constables have to wash and wear.
Supplies and Logistics Director, DIG Jayatissa Herath, told The Sunday
Times he was not aware of the problem and would have to check with his
senior officers before commenting. Some police sources said senior officers
were getting new uniforms but they did not know where the material came
The incident sparked an uproar in parliament yesterday with Buddha Sasana Deputy Minister Ediriweera Premaratne saying he would resign from parliament if the opposition proved he had interfered in the case against his son. The deputy minister's son and an MSD guard identified as Abeysekarage Piyasena were taken into custody at Kompannaveediya after a police chase.
Friday's incident involved three and half kilos of gold which the deputy minister's son and the bodyguard are alleged to have snatched from two employees of the Central Mail Exchange. But police said this incident was allegedly part of a wider racket involving the deputy minister's son and some mail exchange employees.
The ongoing racket allegedly involving the smuggling of gold through parcel post was exposed on Friday when two Mail Exchange employees who apparently knew about the operation took three-and-a -half kilos of gold from a parcel and tried to take it to Sea Street for sale.
The suspect's alleged accomplices at the mail exchange then alerted him and he had rushed to the scene with the Ministerial Security Division guard.
It is alleged that the MSD guard had assaulted one of the employees who stole the smuggled gold. In the meantime, adding to the drama, another employee had reportedly called the Police Narcotics Bureau because he apparently thought it was a drug smuggling racket. Narcotics Bureau officers also rushed to the scene and arrested the suspect and the MSD guard after a chase. Detectives said the modus operandi had been for the deputy minister's son to inform his mail exchange accomplices about particular parcels to which gold was introduced at a particular point without the knowledge of the sender. The accomplices would remove the gold from those parcels, give it to the suspect and send the parcel to the addressee.
Meanwhile Deputy Minister Premaratne told Parliament yesterday that he would resign from his post as well as Parliament if opposition members could prove he had interfered in the police case against his son.
Speaking during the votes of the Ministry of Buddha Sasana, Mr. Premaratne said he was saddened and hurt by the aspersions cast on him by opposition MPs. "My child is in custody. I will let the case take its course in courts," he said. Mr. Premaratne said the incident had taken place on the eve of the Parliament debate on the Buddha Sasana Ministry and this made him suspicious as to whether someone was trying to fix him.
He said he was confident investigations would reveal the truth. Mr. Premaratne said his son had been away in Switzerland studying for three years and had returned recently for a vacation.
He said children of UNPers committed many illegal acts during the time of the UNP but he questioned how many were charged in courts for their crimes.
Earlier in the day, Parliament sittings were suspended for ten minutes at the start of the debate on the Buddha Sasana Ministry's vote when the UNP's Puttalam district MP Palitha Ranga Bandara asked how a vehicle belonging to the Ministry was used to commit such a crime.
Government MPs disrupted his speech by thumping their tables with books and shouting when Deputy speaker Sarath Munasinghe suspended sittings.
The deputy minister's son and the MSD guard were later produced before the Fort magistrate and remanded till April 6.
Fort Police said a Land Cruiser jeep belonging to the ministry and the revolver of the MSD guard were in their custody.
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