Behind the conflicting statements from various limbs of the State, a clearer picture is emerging of the circumstances surrounding the abortive attempt to remove Police Inspector Adrian Nishantha Silva from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), and to transfer the officer to the Negombo Police Division. The order from the Inspector General of Police (IGP) for Silva’s transfer came on the night of November 18, 2018 citing ‘essential service requirements’.
In the days and even hours prior to the issuance of this order, which was made without consulting the National Police Commission (NPC), the IGP had come under severe pressure from the President and military brass to remove Silva from the CID. There was equal pressure from the CID leadership not to interfere with the officer’s career, according to documents the Daily Mirror is in possession.
- President, IGP trade charges on who ordered transfer
- Lasantha’s daughter rises to defend IP Nishantha
- CDS implicated in framing IP Nishantha as ‘LTTE mole’
In a letter addressed to the Senior Deputy IG of the CID, Ravi Seneviratne, the IGP states that at a national security conference held on November 13, 2018, Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne had accused Nishantha Silva of being an agent of the LTTE terrorist outfit. The meeting had been chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat. Thereafter, the letter says Admiral Wijegunaratne has once again contacted the police chief on his mobile phone and had inquired as to why IP Silva is still allowed to work for the CID after this ‘security threat’ had been revealed by him.
By Monday morning, the flurry of statements had been followed by several inquiries made by ambassadors of prominent countries calling for an explanation for Inspector Silva’s transfer. The response they received, according to several diplomatic sources, is that the transfer of Silva was a decision taken solely by IGP based on service requirements
It was following the telephone call he received from CDS on November 16, 2018, that the IGP wrote to CID head Ravi Seneviratne setting out the facts above and requesting a report on IP Silva containing any evidence of his having connection with terrorist groups or involvement in criminal or illegal activities.
The IGP’s confidential letter (Ref: SD/ IG/ OUT/ S-04/ 5745/ 2018) to Senior DIG CID, Ravi Seneviratne states further, ‘It was revealed at the Security Council meeting held on November 13, 2018 that IP Nishantha Silva is involved with the LTTE. Later CDS Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne spoke to me on my mobile phone asking why IP Silva, who is involved with LTTE activities, is being allowed to work for the CID’.
‘Hence I request you to send me a report today- November 16 before 3pm about this officer on following-
- Whether there is any information that this officer is involved with LTTE activities.
- Whether this officer is involved with any crime or illegal activities
- What type of official duties have been entrusted to this officer?’
In response, DIG CID Ravi Seneviratne by letter (Ref: S/DIG/CID/IGP/3303/18) dated November 18, to the IGP, had said that neither he nor CID Director Shani Abeysekera were aware or any evidence that IP Nishantha Silva was involved in any terrorist activity or in any criminal or illegal activity. He said Silva conducted investigations that had been entrusted on him to the best of his abilities and that he had arrested and charged many LTTE cadres who were prepared to create mayhem in the country during the war. The Senior DIG elaborated on how IP Nishantha Silva has conducted many highly sensitive investigations which are now before courts.
He has further stated in his letter to the IGP, a copy of which is in this newspaper’s possession of, that there is no evidence what so ever against IP Silva to substantiate the allegations made by CDS Wijegunaratne. The Senior DIG points out that it is this same officer, Nishantha Silva, who is leading investigations into the abduction of 11 youths, in which CDS Wijegunaratne has himself been named a suspect. The CDS is not implicated in the abduction and murder of the victims, but the CID has presented evidence of him deliberately harbouring one of the key suspects Lt. Com. Chandana Hettiarachchi alias ‘Navy Sampath’, and preventing the CID from questioning or arresting him, despite repeated requests to produce Navy Sampath to the CID. Wijegunaratne was Navy Commander at the time. The CID has told the Colombo Fort Magistrate that although Wijegunaratne had claimed that ‘Navy Sampath’ could not be located, he was being hidden in the Navy Officer’s Mess by Wijegunaratne. The CID produced eye-witness statements and documents to this effect.
- National Police Commission (NPC) took the step of holding a special emergency meeting at their offices in order to consider the complaints
- Nevertheless, the IGP concluded, he had no choice, but to give effect to a transfer of Nishantha Silva
- Through this letter, the IGP was “planting a flag in the ground
- Ahimsa, daughter of slain Lasantha Wickrematunge, had been following events in Colombo closely
- Amnesty International also chimed in and issued a statement on Silva’s transfer
Senior DIG Seneviratne in his letter explained that although Wijegunaratne is attempting to frame IP Silva being involved in terrorist activities, none of the intelligence services nor any other law enforcement authorities have formally received any such information. He charged that the allegation is levelled against IP Nishantha Silva because he is the officer investigating the abduction case, in which the Colombo Magistrate on three occasions has instructed the CID to arrest CDS Wijegunaratne and to produce him before court.
The letter further states, ‘As I have notified you on an earlier occasion that there is a court order to arrest and produce Wijegunaratne on serious criminal charges, he is not fit to hold the post of Chief of Defence Staff. I understand that you have informed this to Secretary Defence. As a suspect who is now attempting to interfere with an investigation and jeopardise the investigating officer, action could be taken against him under the Witness Protection Act’.
Nishantha Silva is well-known among journalists and civil society groups as the lead investigator in a number of ‘white van’ abduction cases and murders of journalists when Mahinda Rajapaksa headed the regime. These include the Lasantha Wickrematunge murder, disappearance of Prageeth Eknaligoda, abduction and torture of Keith Noyahr
Shortly after receiving Senior DIG Seneviratne’s letter defending Nishantha Silva and accusing Admiral Wijegunaratna of criminal obstruction of an investigation, the IGP was summoned to meet President Maithripala Sirisena at 1:30 PM on November 18, 2018, according to a letter written by the IGP to Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando the following day.
The order, which came on a Sunday night, received immediate and blistering condemnation from around the world. Nishantha Silva is well-known among journalists and civil society groups as the lead investigator in a number of ‘white van’ abduction cases and murders of journalists when Mahinda Rajapaksa headed the regime. These include the Lasantha Wickrematunge murder, disappearance of Prageeth Eknaligoda, abduction and torture of Keith Noyahr, assault on Upali Tennakoon and the attempted abduction of Namal Perera.
Barely an hour after the transfer was made public, JVP MP Vijitha Herath discussed it on live television on the TNL channel’s Special ‘Janahanda’ program. “Mahinda Rajapaksa and his people want to cover up their crimes and robberies,” Herath said. “Just now, suddenly, the main officer handling all of these investigations, was suddenly transferred to Negombo. Why are they doing this?” he asked.
“This is what Mahinda Rajapaksa wants,” he charged. “IP Nishantha is being removed from the CID to shut down his investigations. Mahinda Rajapaksa realised that if Nishantha Silva remained at the CID, half or more of his MPs who tried to assault the Speaker in Parliament on Friday would be in the Welikada jail by the middle of next year. This is all because of this Welikada terrorist group,” MP Herath further said.
This condemnation was soon followed by live televised statements from several other MPs including UNP MPs Harin Fernando and Hirunika Premachandra, who also accused the state of trying to stifle the CID by removing Nishantha Silva.
The Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association, in a statement by its President, Dhuminda Sampath, said ‘We believe that this sudden transfer was made to hold up the above-mentioned court cases, and under these circumstances, we are shocked as media freedom and journalists are in danger’.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expressed ‘serious concerns’ over Nishantha Silva, who they said, ‘Was investigating several major attacks on journalists during the tenure of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’.
Amnesty International also chimed in and issued a statement on Silva’s transfer: “We are concerned about the seeming interference by the authorities with investigations into key allegations of human rights violations including those on attacks against journalists and disappearances. The authorities must ensure that ongoing criminal investigations into these cases are not impeded on any grounds whatsoever. Justice in these cases is long overdue.”
By Monday morning, the flurry of statements had been followed by several inquiries made by ambassadors of prominent countries calling for an explanation for Inspector Silva’s transfer. The response they received, according to several diplomatic sources, is that the transfer of Silva was a decision taken solely by IGP based on service requirements.
It quickly became clear to IGP Pujith Jayasundera that he was to be “thrown under the bus”.
Meanwhile, on Monday November 19 itself, Senior DIG CID swiftly submitted an appeal against Silva’s transfer to the National Police Commission. In this appeal, Senior DIG Seneviratne warned that if the transfer of IP Nishantha Silva was carried out, several sensitive and important investigations which are now nearing completion would be seriously hampered. He requested from the Commission to consider the importance of this officer to these CID investigations, and to immediately reverse the transfer order.
It was following the telephone call he received from CDS on November 16, 2018, that the IGP wrote to CID head Ravi Seneviratne setting out the facts above and requesting a report on IP Silva containing any evidence of his having connection with terrorist groups or involvement in criminal or illegal activities
The letter says, ‘OIC Gang Robbery Unit of the CID, IP Nishantha Silva had been transferred to the Negombo Police Division with immediate effect by the IGP.
‘Out of his 25 year service in the Police Department, this officer had been attached to the CID for 20 years and had conducted many sensitive investigations and fearlessly acted against all suspects. He has become a prime target for those who are accused in these cases and their families. Considering his safety, Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka has ordered the CID to provide him with the necessary security. On the instruction of the IGP, CID has taken necessary steps to protect him. Considering these facts, I request you to cancel the transfer order and enable him to carry out his investigations without any hindrance’.
IP Nishantha Silva himself also made an appeal to the National Police Commission on Monday November 19, refuting the allegation the CDS has made against him, and seeking to reverse the transfer order so that he can carry out the investigations and to bring the perpetrators to book.
Upon receiving notice of the appeals on Monday, the National Police Commission (NPC) took the unprecedented step of holding special emergency meeting at their offices at the BMICH, in order to consider the complaints. At this meeting, the two appeals and their supporting documents were reviewed, and the Commission decided to call for an explanation from the IGP explaining his decision to transfer such a critical CID investigator to the Negombo Division.
Also on the afternoon of November 19, Lawyers for Democracy convened a snap press conference on the Nishantha Silva issue. “We believe politics is behind this sudden transfer,” Lawyers for Democracy Convener Presidents Counsel J.C. Weliamuna said bluntly, to the assembled reporters.
“This transfer was against the law and will be challenged. We strongly believe he was transferred to block his investigations. This appears closely linked to the political changes the country has undergone since October 26, 2018,” Weliamuna charged.
“As lawyers, we have recognised IP Nishantha Silva as one of the most respectable and talented police officers and highly committed to his duties. A three-judge panel has commended him by name for his commitment in investigating the rape and murder of Vidya Loganathan in Jaffna,” the senior lawyer said.
Faced with the prospect of a Police Commission inquiry in which he would have to reveal the extraordinary ‘service requirement’ that justified removing such a critical officer from the CID in the backdrop of the paper trail of trumped up charges of Nishantha Silva having LTTE connections, the IGP moved swiftly to write to his Ministry Secretary and set out the limitations of his role in the Nishantha Silva saga.
In his letter dated November 19, 2018 to Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando, reproduced here in full, the IGP recaps his interactions with the President, Chief of Defence Staff and CID leadership on the Nishantha Silva issue. He says that at the National Security Council meeting on November 13, 2018, Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Wijegunaratna had raised an allegation that Inspector Nishantha Silva had strong LTTE links that made him dangerous to keep at the CID.
The IGP’s letter then said Admiral Wijegunaratne called him on Friday November 16, and reprimanded him for allowing Silva to continue functioning at the CID despite the allegation of LTTE links. It was after this phone call that the IGP had told the Defence Secretary that he was prompted to call for a report on Silva from Senior DIG Ravi Seneviratne of the CID.
The IGP then describes the report he received from CID head Seneviratne regarding Nishantha Silva. According to the report, the IGP said that there was no evidence or intelligence available to corroborate the accusation that Nishantha Silva had any link with the LTTE or with other criminal activity. “These allegations are not supported by any intelligence service or investigative branch,” the IGP said, concluding that the allegations against Silva were baseless and unsubstantiated.
Nevertheless, the IGP concluded, he had no choice, but to give effect to a transfer of Nishantha Silva. “As per the instructions and advice of the President, who is the subject [Law and Order] Minister, I gave the order on 2018.11.18 through Telephone Message Number 128 to transfer IP Nishantha Silva of the CID immediately to the Negombo Police Division citing a service requirement” the IGP states.
Through this letter, the IGP was “planting a flag in the ground”. Shortly after this letter had been delivered to Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and copied to President’s Secretary Udaya Seneviratne, a bombshell dropped from down-under. Ahimsa Wickrematunge, daughter of slain Editor-in-Chief of The Sunday Leader LasanthaWickrematunge, had been following events in Colombo closely and was finalising a letter to President Maithripala Sirisena praising Nishantha Silva and condemning his transfer. Ahimsa Wickrematunge’s letter was dated Tuesday 20th November 2018. She sent the letter early that morning, shortly after midnight in Colombo, which is five-and-a-half hours behind the east coast of Australia where she resides. The text of her letter is reproduced here in full.
Speaking exclusively to the Daily Mirror, Ahimsa Wickrematunge explained why she took the extraordinary step to write to the President. “I never had any faith in the investigation into my father until I met Nishantha” and another CID officer, she said. “He was so patient, thorough and determined when taking my statement. He had every fact of the investigation at his fingertips, and he produced results,” she continued.
“My letter was first going to be an appeal. I was going to beg from the President to reverse his decision. But the more I learned about what was behind the decision, and about the resolve of the independent institutions who would stand up for Nishantha, I realised that no one needs to beg to do what is right,” she said.
My letter was first going to be an appeal. I was going to beg from the President to reverse his decision. But the more I learned about what was behind the decision, and about the resolve of the independent institutions who would stand up for Nishantha, I realised that no one needs to beg to do what is right
Wickrematunge’s letter laid out Nishantha Silva’s involvement in her father’s murder investigation with painstaking detail. She also openly charged that while the transfer order was supposedly from the IGP, “he has made no secret of the fact that he issued this order hesitantly at the President’s insistence.
“I know IP Silva as the lead investigator into the murder of my late father Lasantha Wickrematunge, who was bludgeoned to death on January 8, 2009 exactly six years before you were historically elected President on a platform pledging to solve heinous murders like my father’s,” she continued.
Then, mid-morning on Tuesday 20th November 2018, with the National Police Commission having called for an explanation from the IGP, Wickrematunge’s letter took the media by storm and several political and civil society groups united in their condemnation of the transfer and an envelope arrived at the CID containing a one-page letter from the IGP’s office.
While the envelope physically arrived on the morning of November 20, the contents in the document indicated that it was prepared the previous day, November 19, 2018. This date was handwritten in multiple places.
The document was an order from the Inspector General of Police, withdrawing his previous order to transfer Nishantha Silva from the Criminal Investigation Department to the Negombo Division. The reason cited in this letter was innocuous. It was “due to service requirements”, said the IGP.
Letter to President from Ahimsa Wickrematunge
Dear President Sirisena,
Your Decision to Remove Inspector Adrian Nishantha Silva from the Criminal Investigation Department
Sunday 18th November 2018 was the 73rd birthday of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. To mark this occasion, President Rajapaksa participated in a ‘Pinkama’ at a temple near his official residence, attended by your Inspector General of Police, Mr. Pujith Jayasundara. After celebrating the former President’s birthday in the company of former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Mr. Jayasundera proceeded to police headquarters, where he signed transfer order D/HRM/ADM/1869/2018 dated 18th November 2018.
As you are fully aware, this was an order to remove Police Inspector Adrian Nishantha Silva, Officer-in-Charge of the Gang Robbery Branch (GRB) of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) due to unspecified “service requirements”. While the order is ostensibly from the IGP, he has made no secret of the fact that he issued this order hesitantly, at your insistence. This was a thoughtful birthday gift on your part, but it was Mahinda’s birthday, not Gotabaya’s.
I know Inspector Silva as the lead investigator into the murder of my father, Lasantha Wickrematunge, who was bludgeoned to death on 8th January 2009, exactly six years before you were historically elected President on a platform pledging to solve heinous murders like my father’s.
In January 2009, two innocent youth were abducted in Vavuniya and executed in cold blood and their corpses burnt to ashes in Anuradhapura, all just so that their motorcycle could be planted as evidence at the crime scene. Senior police officers helped to destroy all traces of the notebook containing my father’s last words, which may have identified his attackers. We know this because of Nishantha Silva. Over the last two years, he travelled tirelessly around Vavuniya and Anuradhapura, interrogated dozens of witnesses, ordered DNA tests on decade-old samples and finally arrested the police officers responsible, including a Senior Deputy Inspector General.
On 18th January 2010 the CID made a breakthrough into my father’s murder when a mechanic in Nuwara Eliya identified a soldier in the Tripoli Military Intelligence platoon as having used his National ID card to purchase SIM cards used to coordinate the attack on my father. The ink was barely dry on that witness statement before the all-powerful Gotabaya Rajapaksa personally ordered that the commanding officer of the Tripoli platoon be whisked away to a diplomatic posting. The investigation was then yanked away from the CID overnight and given to the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID), who arrested the poor mechanic on trumped up charges and covered up all involvement of the Tripoli platoon. We know all this purely thanks to Nishantha Silva’s investigations. We would know more if the poor mechanic did not mysteriously perish in remand custody in October 2011.
I came to know Nishantha Silva when he visited Melbourne to record a statement from me regarding my father’s murder. I told him then that my father had said repeatedly that he was likely to be killed by Gotabaya Rajapaksa for having exposed the MiG Deal. Nishantha Silva fearlessly reported this to the Mount Lavinia courts. Only a court of law can decide whether my father was right about who gave the order to kill him, but he was sure right about the MiG Deal. The FCID investigation has shown that half the money paid by the Sri Lanka Air Force was siphoned off to a shell company operated by middle men, and that Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s cousin Udayanga Weeratunga was in the thick of the deal, all exactly as my father had exposed.
Ever since I got to meet Nishantha Silva, I was struck by his gentleness, humility and dedication to his job. I started following his work and was stunned by the number of high-profile cases that Nishantha Silva is handling. He is also the lead investigator into the brutal May 2008 abduction and torture of journalist Keith Noyahr. Nishantha Silva’s team reconstructed and scoured millions of telephone records, recorded over one hundred witness statements, located the military intelligence safe house in which Keith Noyahr was tortured, recovered documents proving the safe house was leased by military intelligence, and arrested eight military intelligence officers including the former army chief of staff. Seven of these suspects were from the infamous “Tripoli” white-van platoon implicated in the murder of my father.
Heck, he even found the infamous “white van” and brought it before court. This engine of death was a symbol of your election campaign, emblematic of the vicious brutality of your opponents. One would have expected you to promote the man who found it and not try and sabotage his career. In fact, Inspector Silva may have been able to figure out the nexus between the Tripoli platoon and the chain of command if you had not personally ordered the military not to cooperate with the investigation on so-called “national security” grounds when the CID and the court requested essential documents and records of the army and defence ministry.
It was also Inspector Nishantha Silva’s team who identified and arrested members of yet another military intelligence killer squad for abducting and murdering cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda on the eve of the January 2010 presidential election. Again, Nishantha’s team scoured hundreds of thousands of telephone call records, searched several military installations, and recorded tomes worth of witness statements. According to court documents, at least two cooperating suspects-turned-witnesses have told the CID that the abduction and murder of Eknaligoda was carried out on the instructions of then Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
During the investigation into the floating armoury operated by Avant Garde Maritime Services, it was Nishantha Silva’s team who in early 2015 first moved to impose a ban on foreign travel by Gotabaya Rajapaksa. His team did a tremendous amount of work on this investigation, breathing bank statements and inventorying weapons and explosives that had been stashed at sea in Sri Lankan waters on Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s authority. This investigation came to naught when your attorney general ruled in June 2015 that “no offences under the Firearms Ordinance, Explosives Ordinance or the Prevention of Terrorism Act are disclosed” by the operation of a floating armoury jam-packed with illegally licensed and unlicensed automatic weapons and explosives.
Nishantha Silva has also been the lead investigator into the brutal abduction and murder of eleven young men in 2008 and 2009 after their desperate families had been extorted for ransom, allegedly by several senior naval officers whom Inspector Silva has meticulously identified and arrested. It was Inspector Silva who had the unprecedented courage to share with an open court evidence that your former navy commander, now Chief of Defence Staff, was instrumental in harbouring and smuggling out of the country a fugitive navy officer involved in these grisly murders.
Ironically, it is this same Chief of Defence Staff, a suspect wanted for arrest by Inspector Silva, who seems to have provided you with unfounded and uncorroborated “intelligence” that Nishantha Silva was an “LTTE mole” – intelligence that you forced down the throat of your IGP to try and tarnish the name of one of the bravest, most dedicated and accomplished detectives in the Sri Lanka Police.
I sympathise especially with Nishantha Silva on this point. Throughout my childhood, I noticed that whenever my father exposed someone, and that truth was so pungent and irrefutable that it shattered their reputations, these people would react by accusing my father – with zero evidence – of being an “LTTE mole”. My father’s reporting on the MiG Deal, for example, led to a consorted campaign by the Ministry of Defence to brand him and his newspaper as organs of the LTTE. But the truth came out. The truth always comes out.
The truth about Nishantha Silva is that he has been one of the single biggest thorns in the side of the LTTE in the history of the CID. As a junior officer he was part of the team that investigated and dismantled the LTTE intelligence networks that supplied and facilitated the attack on the Katunayake airport in 2000. He was a lead investigator into the 2006 assassination attempts on both Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Sarath Fonseka. He splintered the LTTE networks involved in these and the 2008 assassination of General Janaka Perera, and he participated in countless additional counter-terrorism operations.
By desperately trying to brand a faithful public servant and national hero like Nishantha Silva as a terrorist just to please your strutting tin soldiers and to earn brownie points with your new-found political allies, you are degrading the office of the presidency to a degree that none of your predecessors ever have. My father at various times had fierce disagreements with both Presidents Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa. They called each other many things they would want to take back. But neither Presidents Kumaratunga nor Rajapaksa ever stooped so low as to try and brand my father as part of the LTTE. That is the refrain of lesser mortals, such as Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and apparently, yourself.
I urge you to remember that you have sworn an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of Sri Lanka, not to uphold and defend your Chief of Defence Staff and those who rule by white van death. I do not know if these people are guilty of any crime. Neither do you. That is for a court to decide after a thorough criminal investigation of the kind that Nishantha Silva was so ably and tirelessly performing before you cut him off at the knees. Our role in the criminal justice system is to support investigators however they may require.
For me, as a witness, that means answering their questions truthfully and comprehensively. For you, as a head of state, that means putting the law before your personal relationships, political needs and whims. It means making available to investigators the resources, political will and support from the state they require to get to the truth and present it before a competent court. Above all, your role is to make it clear to police officers across the country that working with dedication towards the pursuit of justice like Nishantha Silva has done will bring reverence and not retaliation.
I have faith in the Criminal Investigation Department and the independent institutions of Sri Lanka such as the National Police Commission and Constitutional Council. They will not allow you to get away with such a blatant abuse of power.
Mr. President, you have only two choices before you. You could be remembered as the President who quickly rectified an ill-advised lapse in judgment by immediately reversing the removal of Nishantha Silva from the CID and letting him do his job.
Alternatively, you could wait until the independent National Police Commission or a court of law reviews your order and shoots it down. In that case you will be remembered as the President who tried to stop some of the most high-profile criminal investigations in the country – and failed. Make no mistake, Mr. President. If you try to stand in the way of justice for my father and other victims of brutality, you will fail.
CDS charged and remanded until Dec. 15
Yesterday CDS Ravindra Wijegunaratne surrendered himself to the Colombo Fort Magistrates Court in connection with the investigation into his alleged involvement in aiding and abetting murder suspect Lt. Cdr. Hettiarachchi alias ‘Navy Sampath’ to escape arrest. One suspect, Laksiri Amarasinghe, has already been arrested in this connection, and remains in remand custody.
The CID, represented by ASP Sisira Tissera and IP Nishantha Silva, informed Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake that the Chief of Defence Staff has been named as a suspect in this investigation. The CID listed several charges against the country’s senior-most serving military officer, including several charges under the Assistance to and Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses Act (APVCWA) No. 4 of 2015.
Adm. Wijegunaratne was charged under Section 8 (4) (a) of the APVCWA for causing “harassment, intimidation, coercion, violation, physical or mental suffering and loss or damage to the reputation” of Inspector Adrian Nishantha Silva as a consequence of Inspector Silva having made testimony in court that was adverse to Adm. Wijegunaratne. The admiral was also charged under Section 8 (4) (b) of the APVCWA for causing “an adverse change to be made to the conditions of employment in the place of employment” of Inspector Silva as a consequence of the inspector’s adverse testimony. According to the law, these are non-bailable offences; each punishable by up to seven years of imprisonment.
CDS Ravindra Wijegunaratne (in white uniform) who surrendered himself to the Colombo Fort Magistrates Court
The CID also complained against Wijegunaratne under the APVCWA and the Penal Code for his alleged involvement in the attack last Sunday on prosecution witness Lt. Cdr. Laksiri Galagamage at Navy Headquarters. The CID informed court that Wijegunaratne is suspected of participating in an unlawful assembly, criminal intimidation, attempting to assault a witness, and threatening a witness.
Based on the submissions of ASP Tissera and IP Silva, the Magistrate said that the evidence of the CDS’ involvement with trying to remove IP Nishantha Silva from the CID made clear that he was capable of interfering with the investigation. The Magistrate ordered that Wijegunaratne be remanded until December 15, 2018 and be produced before court on that day.
Outside the court premises, several journalists and photo-journalists, covering the court proceeding, came under attack by unidentified assailants who arrived on motorbikes. The Magistrate ordered the Fort Police to take action against those initiating these assaults.