Johnston, Kahandagama named as suspects

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Additional Solicitor General Ayesha Jinasena informed Colombo Fort Magistrate Thilina Gamage yesterday (1), that former Minister Johnston Fernando and Municipal Councillor Mahinda Kahandagama have been named as suspects in the case filed in connection with the incident in which peaceful protesters were attacked by SLPP supporters.

Further, the Colombo Fort Magistrate also ordered for SLPP MPs Sanath Nishantha, Milan Jayathilake, Wasantha Handapangoda, and 10 others to be further remanded until 8 June.

IGP C.D. Wickramaratne also informed the Court that he would appoint SDIG Kamal Silva, who is in charge of the Crimes Division, to oversee the investigations into the incident.

Wickramaratne appeared in Court as he was summoned to explain as to why the order of the Attorney General to transfer SDIG of the Western Province, Deshabandu Tennakoon has not been implemented.

He thereby informed Court that he transferred Tennakoon in accordance with the powers vested in him and that notice of such transfer was submitted to the Secretary to the Ministry of Public Security and thereby that further steps should be taken by the Secretary.

He was then questioned by the Magistrate as to who is supervising the investigations into the incident, to which the IGP responded that the investigations are being supervised by DIG Ranasinghe attached to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

The Magistrate observed that the position of a DIG is inferior to that of a SDIG and questioned whether an officer who is superior to a SDIG could be appointed to oversee the investigations, to which the IGP responded positively.

The IGP said SDIG in charge of the Crime and Traffic Division, Attorney-at-Law Kamal Silva will be appointed to supervise the investigations.

Nalin Ladduwahetty, PC appeared for Tennakoon yesterday (1) and he said the submissions made in regard to Tennakoon are false and that the AG did not order the transfer of his client and that attention was only paid in this regard.

He also said his client took necessary measures in regard to the incident on the written instructions given by the IGP the previous day and that he was in his office at the time of the incident and that on being informed of the same, that he had headed to Galle Face.

Ladduwahetty also observed that the SSP in charge of Central Colombo asked his client to remain where he was and as he realised that these instructions were contradictory, he contacted the Secretary to the Ministry of Public Security. He added that the instructions of the Secretary to the Minister of Public Security were also contradictory to the instructions received from the IGP the previous day, due to which he attempted to contact the President. He added that his client managed to connect to the President eleven minutes later, following which he took measures to disperse the crowd with the use of water cannon and tear gas in accordance with the instructions of the President. Additional Solicitor General Jinasena also said the official and private phones of Tennakoon are now in the custody of the CID and will be subjected to a forensic investigation.

She added that the statement made by Fernando, in which he observed that “If the President is unable, let’s take this into our hands,” has been referred to two psychiatrists for expert opinion, following which it will be forwarded to the analyst.

Accordingly, the Additional Solicitor General informed Court that steps would be taken to name Dilith Fernando and Nishantha Jayasinghe as the other suspects in the case and it will be taken up on 8 June.

By Hansi Nanayakkara