By Chathuri Dissanayake
Facing severe criticism over a move to transfer a key detective of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) probing a number of attacks on journalists and high-profile cases, the Inspector General of Police yesterday reversed the decision.
Transfer orders issued to CID Officer in Charge of Organised Crime, Nishantha Silva, were cancelled at the eleventh hour on Monday, with a letter conveying the decision being sent to the CID yesterday. The Daily FT exclusively reported the move in its yesterday›s edition.
In a letter dated 19 November, issued to Silva last morning, IGP Pujith Jayasundara reversed with immediate effect the transfer order which was issued on 18 November. Both letters, the transfer order and cancellation cited an immediate service requirement as a reason.
The decision to transfer Silva, which bypassed the Police Commission and came directly from President Maithripala Sirisena, shifted him to the Negombo division with immediate effect. Sirisena is reported to have brought the Sri Lanka Police under his control following his shock move to sack sitting Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and install one-time political adversary and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in office.
Silva was a key figure in investigations into several major attacks on journalists during the Rajapaksa administration, including the assassination of Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, the abduction and assault of Nation Deputy Editor Keith Noyahr and assaults on Upali Thennakoon and Namal Perera.
In a letter to the President,the daughter of slain journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge was also highly critical of the decision taken to remove Silva from the investigations. In the hard-hitting correspondence, Ahimsa Wickrematunge reminded President Sirisena that he came to power on 8 January 2015, on the sixth anniversary of her father›s death, pledging to solve such murders.
Outlining the achievements and breakthroughs Silva has scored in a number of high-profile cases, Wickrematunge urged Sirisena to set aside personal relationships and political needs and whims to facilitate the ongoing investigations and reverse the transfer.
The IGP, in a letter to the CID,also accused their officer CI Nishantha Silva, who played a key role in solving a number of high-profile cases, including an investigation into the rape and murder of Jaffna schoolgirl SivalokananthanVidya and killing of politician Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra, of being connectedto the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Responding to a letter written by the IGP, Senior DIG D.W.R.B. Seneviratne defended his officer, categorically denying that Silva had any involvement with the LTTE.
“There is no evidence or information reported to me to date that this officer has any connection with the LTTE organization,» he wrote to the IGP while also denying any evidence to prove that Silva had any connection with any crime or illegal activities as stated by the IGP in his letter.
Senior DIG Seneviratne also states in his letter that that the accusations made by the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral R.C. Wijeguneratne, against whom the Fort Magistrate has issued an arrest warrant based on evidence filed by Silva, during the Security Council meeting held on 13 November and later over the telephone regarding the detective’s connections to the LTTE «are completely false, baseless and are malicious accusations».
Senior DIG Seneviratne also says that a letter,briefing Jayasundara on the case anddeclaring that Wijeguneratneis unsuitable to hold office, has been sent to the IGP and has also been reported to the Defence Secretary.
Against such a backdrop, the conduct of Admiral Wijegunaratne in accusing the chief investigative officer of the case, based on which there has been an arrest warrant issued for his arrest, is considered an attempt to influence ongoing investigations, the Senior DIG told the Police Chief in his letter defending Silva, recommending that action be taken against Admiral Wijegunaratne under the Victims and Witness Protection Act of Sri Lanka.