Shani’s firearm game backfires
By Chamara Amarasuriya
CID sleuths arrested former Director of the CID Shani Abeysekara, who had been interdicted earlier, on charges of allegedly tampering with evidence pertaining to a firearms case.
Abeysekara has been charged with furnishing false evidence, ahead of filing a case related to the seizing of the firearm used in the murder of millionaire businessman, Mohammad Shiyam.
Already, former Senior DIG Vaas Gunawardena has been convicted over the murder of the said businessman and is presently on death row.
Meanwhile, Abeysekara was apprehended around 7 a.m. on 31 July at his residence in Elvitigala Flats, Matha Road, Colombo 8.
The CID had obtained a statement voluntarily on 1 November, seven years ago, from Police Sergeant Dias who had served with Vaas Gunawardena on several occasions. In his statement, Dias had stated that several firearms had been kept at Vaas Gunawardena’s residence and that after the murder of Shiyam, the firearms had been taken way in a van by Inspector of Police Willawaarachchi.
Confirming the statement given to the CID by Dias, Police Constable Susantha, who also had served under Vaas Gunawardena, had given a statement to the CID.
Based on evidence recorded, the CID had nabbed Willawarachchi on 26 February, six years ago. During interrogation, Willawarachchi had confirmed that more firearms from Vaas Gunwardena’s residence had been removed.
He had claimed that the weapons had been handed over to one of his friends in Kadawatha, known as Neligama.
The CID had later recorded a statement from Neligama and claimed that from information gleaned from that person, they had recovered weapons from a garden in Kalagedihena before producing the weapons as Court productions. Among the weapons that had been recovered by the CID were six T-56 rifles, a revolver, two pistols and several bullets, said Police Media Spokesman, SSP Jaliya Senaratna. He said at the initial stages of the probe, the person known as Neligama had not been apprehended by the CID.
Later, when the case filed against Vaas Gunawardena was proceeding at the Colombo High Court, a lawyer for the defence identified as Jaliya had claimed that the weapons recovered had not been in the possession of his client. Lawyer Jaliya had claimed that the weapons had only been introduced by the CID and that the Court had issued an order for the arrests of the witnesses Dias, Susantha, Willawaarachchi, Neligama and Neligama’s spouse.
Based on a request made by the CID, the Attorney General’s Department had filed a revision application in the Colombo High Court against the arrest order issued but that revision application had been dismissed, stated Senaratna. He noted that even after the dismissal of the revision application, Dias and Susantha had been apprehended on 1 and 2 June this year and produced in Court. He said that Neligama and his spouse had also been produced in Court on 11 June.
After the case abstracts had been submitted to the AG, the suspects had been released. The reason for that had been Abeysekera having fabricated evidence pertaining to the recovery of the weapons.
According to the Police, after the present Director of the CID briefed the present Acting Inspector General of Police, the probe relating to the case had been handed over to the CID on 6 June.
During the lengthy probe, it had come to light that the suspects had proceeded to lie to the CID claiming that Abeysekara had not stashed the weapons in the garden in Kalagedihena, however, a fresh probe conducted by the CID had revealed otherwise.
The CID having made submissions to the Gampaha Chief Magistrate’s Court through a B report had then proceeded to apprehend Abeysekara. He was produced before the Gampha Magistrate late last evening.
Senaratna added that they had also initiated an inquiry to apprehend two other suspects who had falsified evidence related to the case.