Two weeks after the decision by the National Police Commission to appoint SDIG M.R Latheef as the Commandant of the Special Task Force (STF), moves are afoot at a very high level to override the recommendation the Daily Mirror learns.
Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police M.R. Latheef was appointed as the head of the STF upon recommendation by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Pujith Jayasundera on August 4.
Latheef, who was a member of the 1st batch of STF officers since its creation in 1984, had reportedly come under severe pressure from various quarters to voluntarily step down, sources told the Daily Mirror.
The Daily Mirror learns that the son of a very high ranking politician is behind the move to stall the appointment.
“He had in-fact been called by someone who is an arms dealer, who shares the same surname as a former President and, and was asked not to take up the appointment. That is the sort of pressure that is being exerted on him,” the source said.
Latheef’s appointment was to come into effect on August 9.
“The appointment was made following the recommendation by the IGP but his hands also seem to be tied as the political forces at work are ranked very high. His racial background also seems to be playing more than a small part in this issue,” sources at the Presidential Secretariat told the Daily Mirror.
The Police Commission has on August 4, released a statement to the Press announcing the appointment of Latheef, after which moves were afoot to prevent the appointment.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror the Secretary and the Spokesperson for the National Police Commission said the Constitutional power of appointment rests with the Commission.
“We have appointed Mr. Latheef but he has yet not been released for duty. We will discuss this issue at the meeting tomorrow. Constitutionally the Police Commission is the only body, which has the power to make these appointments and we have made the appointment,” he said.
When asked as to the reason for the delay on the appointment Mr. Cooray refused to speculate.
“We cannot pin point a single reason nor should we speculate. All we are aware as to now that the appointment has not been executed despite our appointment and this will be taken up for discussion today,” he said.
According to sources within the Special Task Force, the Daily Mirror learns that many vehicles and personnel used by politicians for private purposes have been returned to their stations and garages following the news of the appointment.
“The STF garages have seen an increase in the return of vehicles since the news spread about the appointment. Officers who were stationed to look after coconut and rubber estates of politicians have also returned to their normal posts,” STF sources told the Daily Mirror.
SDIG Latheef following his operational duties in the Special Task Force was attached to the National Intelligence Bureau as counter-terrorism specialist during which time he was trained by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the British MI5 and the Special Air Services (SAS).
He was also attached as a counter-terrorism specialist as First Officer in various stations including Paris, London, Bangkok and Geneva during the height of the operations of the LTTE.
Reports said that he was the only security specialist from Sri Lanka to advice security for major events including the Beijing Olympics in 2008. (Hafeel Farisz)
IGP ratifies STF Commandant appointment