Kandy abductions end in Colombo murders
Ex-PC minister killed with 3 others: Revenge killings of tea trade?
By Asif Fuard
A jeep of horror discovered at Cinnamon Gardens before dawn yesterday has shocked the city a week after the chilling murder of a pretty teenage girl at the Royal Park apartment complex.

Four bullet-riddled bodies, including that of a former Central Province Minister and top tea trader, were found in a Land Cruiser at Cinnamon Gardens early yesterday, police said.

The Toyota Land Cruiser vehicle bearing the number 65-3636 was found at Malalasekara Mawatha, Colombo 7 behind the SLIDA institute, with the bodies, blindfolded and the hands tied.

The victims were identified as former Provincial Councillor M.T.M Ameen, who was also a tea factory owner, his 19-year-old nephew M. Zaheer, another person Fahim and a worker in Mr. Ameen’s tea factory.

Police said their night mobile patrol found the bodies in the Land Cruiser around 2. 15 a.m. They had observed the Land Cruiser with its signal lights on. On closer inspection, they found two bodies in the back seat and another two in the rear section soaked in blood.

The police said they had found that the original owner of the Land Cruiser was from Tissamaharama. According to preliminary investigations, Mr. Ameen had rivals in the tea industry and his name had been mentioned over the killings or attempted killings of tea tasters and others in the industry some months ago.
The Land Cruiser had a wind screen sticker which stated in red lettering President’s House, Kandy and was dated 19.03.04, an indication that it had visited the President’s House on that particular day or had permission to visit the place. Mr. Ameen was the former Central Provincial Council minister for agriculture, irrigation, trade and co-operatives. He had bought the Ramboda tea estate and had plans to convert it into a hi-tech tea centre with cable cars for foreign and local visitors.

Investigations revealed that Mr. Ameen and three others had been taken away by persons in police uniform. They had come in a Dolphin van bearing No. 58-2178 and it had been parked outside the Pussallawa Mosque, apparently waiting till Mr. Ameen and others finished their Friday Prayers.

When the prayers ended at 1. 30 p.m., Mr. Ameen and the three others were reportedly apprehended and put into the Dolphin van. Some of Mr. Ameen’s friends said they had followed the Dolphin van but lost track of it at Warakapola.

Soon after the abduction, Mr. Ameen’s brother M. Rauf – an SLFP organizer for the Kandy district rushed to Colombo to meet Western Province Governor Alavi Moulana to seek his assistance in this matter.

Governor Moulana told The Sunday Times he had contacted the Colombo Crimes Division but did not get a feedback. So he contacted Police Chief Chandra Fernando who promised a full search and probe, but yesterday morning he received a call saying the bodies had been found.
Colombo South Police Superintendent Sarath Kumara said they found fingerprints on the Land Cruiser and were trying to track down the owner of the vehicle.

Colombo’s DIG Pujith Jayasundara told The Sunday Times yesterday that the police could not act unless a formal complaint was made. “The persons were abducted by those wearing police uniforms. Any one can be imposters wearing the uniform. If a formal complaint was made we could have alerted all stations. But the complaint was made at 10.40 p.m. in Gampola just few hours before they were found,” he said.

“Two seats were vacant and we assume two people would have been seated in front. We believe that they were taken to some other place and killed and the bodies were just dumped here,” he said.

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