Investigators of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) are closing in on a former top aide of former Navy Commander, Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda in connection with the Navy abduction for ransom racket. According to sources, the aide, now a wanted suspect currently serving as a Chief Petty Officer in the Naval intelligence is believed to have been part of the abduction for ransom gang accused of kidnapping 11 youth from 2008 – 2009.
The suspect was summoned to the CID for questioning on February 6. Responding to the CID, a Deputy Solicitor General attached to the Navy had said that the officer cannot be produced to the CID for ‘national security’ reasons until after February 25. According to a Defence Ministry official the Navy has been asked to produce the suspect, escorted by a senior Navy officer, to the CID on February 26.
Karannagoda is now getting ready to file a Fundamental Rights petition to prevent his arrest by the CID in connection with the eleven murders, according to a prosecutor. A senior police officer said the CID has not yet sought to arrest the former Navy Commander despite having reported significant evidence of his possible involvement in the murders to the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court.
The former Navy Commander last year denied allegations that he had advance knowledge of the murders or had sanctioned them. Karanagoda made these denials after multiple witnesses including his former Naval Secretary, Rear Admiral Shemal Fernando, provided evidence of these allegations to the CID.
In a statement to the CID on September 17, 2018 Fernando had admitted to having the knowledge that the missing youth were being detained at the Gun Site prison in the Sri Lanka Navy’s Eastern Command HQ in Trincomalee. He said he had also acted as a liaison and kept in touch with the parents of the missing youth at the time after Minister Felix Perera approached Karannagoda seeking their release.
Karanagoda has said that no sooner evidence of the abductions and suspected murders were brought to his attention, he promptly informed the Colombo Crimes Division of the Police to conduct investigations. However, a copy of the former Navy Commander’s complaint to CCD Director, DIG Anura Senanayake made no mention of abductions or murders and instead drew attention to allegations of financial crimes committed by another former aide Sampath Munasinghe.
This letter to the police and the contradictory denial, were distributed by Karanagoda when he wrote to several police officers, the President and Prime Minister to set out his version of events and forestall his arrest.