Sirikotha attack: Guilty members face the axe

UNP members found guilty of participating in the attack on its headquarters Sirikotha will lose their party membership, senior party member and Chief Opposition Whip MP John Amaratunga warned yesterday.
His warning came in the wake of a report by a committee that probed the attack which took place in December last year. The committee headed by President’s Counsel Srinath Perera presented the report to the UNP Working Committee.

The report had named 73 people who were said to have been involved in the attack with five being named as those who gave it leadership, Mr. Amaratunga said. Eighteen people had been identified as those who acted in a boisterous or violent manner and 50 others as being present among the crowd when the attack took place.

UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake told the Sunday Times that the inquiry committee had closely monitored video footage, photos and other evidence regarding the incident and three main groups involved in the attack were identified.

The report said that on December 19 last year, around 500 people had come to the Sirikotha premises and a majority of them were supporters of UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa, Karu Jayasiriya and Dayasiri Jayasekara.The report said it was a well-organized group and although at the onset of the meeting they had conducted themselves in a peaceful manner, with the release of the results of the election of officials to the party, a part of the crowd had become boisterous, violent and abusive.

“Both Mr. Premadasa and Mr. Jayasuirya had been made aware that their supporters were behaving in an unruly manner. Both the gentlemen, being senior office bearers of the party ought to have come out immediately and addressed the crowd to calm them down. However this does not appear to have been done by them at the early stages” the report said.

It said that by the time they decided to respond, heavy damage had been caused to Sirikotha, its property and several vehicles including the vehicle of the Opposition Leader, the General Secretary and the Treasurer.The committee has identified provincial councillors Shiral Lakthilaka, Maithree Gunaratne, Chandima Nayanjith and Lal Perera as being among those who gave leadership to the attack.
Another group of provincial councillors and Pradeshiya Sabha Members were identified and charges have been made against them for being violent during the party elections.

The report said the committee had received evidence to prove that packets of lunch were distributed by Hema Premadasa to the people in the Sirikotha premises.

The committee has recommended that disciplinary actions be taken against those who led the attack and those who acted in a violent manner.

It also recommended that changes be made to the party constitution to avoid the annual party elections. Members elected should be allowed to hold the positions until the next general election or the presidential election.

Meanwhile, UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa told the Sunday Times yesterday that he did not wish to comment as it was an internal matter. He said he had made his representations to the committee and clarified the matter to the working committee at the last meeting. He also denied allegations made against him.

Meanwhile the report placed on record that MPs Palitha Range Bandara and Palitha Thewarapperuma had tried to calm down the violent crowd. MP Asoka Abeysinghe had taken steps to prevent the exhibition of defamatory posters while MP Dilip Wedaarachchi had taken steps to induce K.H. Dharshana Pradeep, a member of the Tangalle PS to discontinue a fast which he had started outside Sirikotha.

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