Gayan Kumara Weerasinghe
The CID has begun probing former Minister Rajitha Senaratne and the State Pharmaceutical Corporation’s former Chairman Dr. Rumi Mohamed over allegations of having deployed two known criminal suspects to concoct a ‘white van’ abduction allegation with the aim of tarnishing the image of Presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa during the election period, CID sources told the Daily News yesterday.
The two alleged ‘White Van drivers’ are expected to be questioned and further action would be initiated based on the directives of the Attorney General, these sources said. One is already an ex-convict. The two arrested suspect criminals have allegedly told the CID that they had been instructed by Dr.Rajitha Senaratne and Rumi Mohamed to claim that Gotabaya Rajapaksa had ordered them to abduct people in white vans and kill them.
The suspects had made this false allegation before the media at a special news briefing convened by Rajitha Senaratne on November 10, CID officials said.
The suspects had also allegedly told the CID that they were promised Rs. 3 million for making this false claim and they had actually been paid Rs. 2 million. The two suspects involved in this alleged media stunt had been ordered by Senaratne and Mohammed to go into hiding after the presidential election. Subsequently the two suspects had allegedly demanded Rs.10 million not to disclose that Senaratne and Mohammed were behind this stunt, a senior CID officer said.
CID sources said that one suspect, Watareka Gamage Athula Sanjeewa Madanayake alias Undial Athula was a known criminal involved in many crimes committed together with several army deserters and an interdicted police officer.
This group is suspected to be connected with the dual murder committed in the Badovita area. A drug kingpin had given this group a contract to kill his rival drug dealer paying them Rs.2 million for it. The assailants had abducted the victim in a white van and murdered him making it look like he had been abducted by the security forces, according to the CID.
The CID further claimed that, additionally, this group had committed 12 criminal acts and criminal proceedings are currently underway in this regard. These offences had come to light when Undial Athula had been arrested with three accomplices on November 1, 2013. Weragoda Kankanamge Weerasinghe Suneetha alias Ruwan, Sangharajage Susil Silva alias Susi alias Suji and Hettiarachchige Prasanna Sujeewa Kumara were the accomplices of Undial Athula.
According to the CID, the pending cases against these suspects are:
· On April 5 2012 this group had come in a Town Ace van and had also assaulted a person in the head with a pole and made away with Rs. 1 million the victim had withdrawn from the Commercial Bank in Kotahena. The case file number is 69/2012 by the Kotahena Police.
· They had stolen a Town Ace van from Modera worth Rs. 2.1 million (WP GC 9991) while it was parked at 41/1, John Rodrigo Mawatha, Colombo 15 on January 31, 2013. The case has been filed by the Modera Police under case number 23/13.
· In Pettah Police case number 22/2013 they are charged with threatening the Saranga Jewellers staff at gun point using T56 weapons and stolen foreign currency and gold worth Rs. 4.5 million on February 1, 2013.
· On April 5, 2013 this group had come in a white van and stabbed a couple who had withdrawn Rs. 1.15 million from the Kandana Hatton National Bank and stolen their cash and also robbed another woman of Rs. 544,000 she had withdrawn from the HNB Modera branch and it has also been revealed that one of Undial’s accomplices had been killed when he had been shot at during the heist.
· On March 19, 2013 this group had followed a woman who had withdrawn Rs. 300,000 from HNB Ja-Ela and was travelling in a car and had snatched the woman’s handbag with cash in it.
· On May 3, 2013 a female had withdrawn around Rs. 1.5 million from Commercial Bank and had stopped the car near Pittugala Yasodhara Vidyalaya to pick her daughter when this criminal gang had threatened her and stolen the money.
· When the owner of Polytex garments had withdrawn Rs. 7.5 million from the Ja-Ela Hatton National Bank and was entering the factory in a van when this group had arrived in a white van and fled with the money.
· On August 6, 2013 this group is charged with again threatening the Saranga Jewellers staff at gun point using T56 weapons and stolen foreign currency and gold worth Rs. 35 million.
· On August 3, 2012 the suspects had come in a white van and had stabbed a woman travelling in a three wheeler and had stolen Rs. 80 million on St. Lucia’s Road in Kotahena.
· They had stolen Rs. 750,000 from a couple who had withdrawn that money from Commercial Bank, Wattala in 2013 and also stolen another 350,000 in Modera.
· Undial Athula also faces charges of having shot one of his accomplices with a locally manufactured gun and causing his death during a heist in Kotahena in 2013.
· Athula and his gang had also stolen a stock of gold jewellery which was being transported to Colombo from Jaffna in the Sea Street area. Police had also uncovered several such jewellery thefts committed by this gang.
· In another robbery, a factory owner had withdrawn Rs. 7.5 million on May 28 from a bank in Ja-Ela and was on his way to the factory when this group stole the money from him. The money was withdrawn for his daughter’s wedding and heart broken by the incident, the factory owner had died of a heart attack a week later on June 7.
Athula had been arrested and sentenced to six years imprisonment over this incident and had been released six months prior to Rajitha’s media briefing.