The mastermind behind the abduction and murder of 29-year-old textile businessman Mohammed Sakeem Sulaiman, was long standing ‘intimate’ employee (accounts assistant) at Sakeem’s textile business, DIG Ajith Rohana said today.
Addressing the media at Police Headquarters, DIG Rohana revealed the information found through the investigations conducted by the Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) into the murder.
Sakeem Sualiman who had a wholesale textile shop at 3rd Cross Street in Pettah which imported textiles from India, China and Indonesia was abducted outside his residence at Kotelawala Avenue in Bambalapitiya on August 21 between 11 pm -12 midnight.
His partially decomposed body was recovered in Rukulegama, Mawanella on August 24 evening.
However, eight suspects including the main suspect believed to be 24-year-old Faqeer Aslam Mohammed Fazeel aka Param Shan had been taken into police custody by yesterday and interrogations were completed by the CCD, the DIG said. All suspects aged between 24 and 30 are non-relatives of the victim.
According to the Kegalle JMO’s autopsy, Sakeem’s death was a clear homicide though the CCD investigations found that the abductors’ intention was not to assassinate him but to demand a Rs.20 million ransom from his family members while detaining him.
The seven suspects working as street porters were in the habit of gathering every evening and consuming drugs in some places in Colombo where they planned the abduction for ransom one and half month ago.
According to DIG Rohana, the same group of abductors had made an attempt to abduct Sulaiman on a previous occasion during the first week of August but it had failed.
He said lack of eye witnesses to the abduction made the CCD investigations tough and challenging. He further described how Sakeem Sulaiman was killed while being transported in suspects’ car after abduction.
“Five suspects had arrived to abduct the victim in an Aqua car rented out by the main suspect from the Mattakkuliya area. The abductors had beaten Sulaiman from the top of a machete because of his struggle against the abduction.”
The abductors who were shocked and shattered by Sulaiman’s unexpected death had then attempted to destroy evidence while another three suspects in another rented car transported Sulaiman’s body and dumped it in Mawanella.
The abductors had used various alternative roads to avoid police posts to transport the body of Sulaiman.
Despite the fact that the victim was already dead, the abductors had demanded ransom from Sulaiman’s family members to get their primary requirement fulfilled.
The victim’s mobile phone which was destroyed by the abductors was found in Morukada, Polgahawela by the police, he said.
He also said the victim’s under wear and wallet had been burnt by four abductors and dumped them in a place in Wattegama, Kandy. Police also found the vehicle used for the abduction in Kadugannawa yesterday.
He said the crime was completely solved by the CCD by August 28 pending the arrests. Nevertheless, the police did not publish any information relating to the investigation because of the arrests were yet to be made.
“So many parties tried to criticize the police for its inaction over the case. No police can find an overnight solution to such crimes,” he said.
He also told the business community in the country to be cautious when working with outsiders by taking this murder as an example.
“We have a message for the business community. There might be honest workers working under you. But among them it is difficult to sort out such dishonest and cunning employees whom you should wary of,” he added.
Incidentally, Sulaiman had offered Rs.500, 000 to the alleged mastermind Mohammed Fazeel in May, 2016 after his family was displaced by the floods. His wife had also given Rs.50, 000 more to Fazeel to repair his house that was damaged by floods.
After the unexpected murder of the victim, Mohammed Fazeel had tried to report to work at the usual time the following day. But, he had come to work several hours late.
Adding another ironic incident, Fazeel had told family members of Sulaiman that he would meet the abductors, handover the ransom and save his boss by hook or by crook. He had said he would even sacrifice his life to save his boss from the so-called abductors.
The investigations were carried out by CCD Director Nishantha Soysa, ASP Jayathilake, OIC of the CCD Neville de Silva and Sub Inspectors Nishantha Dunusinghe and Jayathilake. (Piyumi Fonseka)