Manhunt Launched by Police to Apprehend Johnston Fernando Over the May 9 Attack on Galle Face Protesters;Two CID Teams Deployed in Kurunegala and Colombo Districts to Arrest Former Cabinet Minister and MP


Safrah Fazal

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) arrested Colombo Municipal Councillor Mahinda Kahandagama yesterday (2) and appointed two CID teams to arrest former Minister and incumbent Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) MP Johnston Fernando, with regard to the incidents of peaceful protestors being attacked by a group of SLPP supporters in Colombo on 9 May on Wednesday (1), The Morning learnt.
This followed the Attorney General’s Department informing the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court that Fernando and Kahandagama and two others have been named as suspects in the case filed over the attacks.

The two teams appointed to arrest Fernando had been dispatched to Colombo and Kurunegala as at yesterday evening (2), but at the time of printing, Fernando had not been arrested yet.

Kahandagama, meanwhile, was placed under arrest after he surrendered to the CID yesterday.

Outside the CID headquarters in Colombo prior to his arrest, Kahandagama told journalists that he denies claims he was among those who attacked the peaceful protestors on 9 May, as he was at the Colombo Municipal Council when the attacks took place. He said that he would hand over the relevant CCTV footage to the CID yesterday, which he claims contains evidence that he was at the Municipal Council from 1 p.m. to 2.30 p.m. on 9 May.

“I left Temple Trees at 12 noon. This CD is proof that I was at the Municipal Council at 1pm and left the place at 2.30 p.m. I was attacked by mobs after 2.30 p.m. I was not present when the ‘GotaGoGama’ and ‘MainaGoGama’ protest sites were attacked. I am submitting this CD with CCTV footage of the Municipal Council on 9 May as evidence to the CID.”

Stating that he was at the CID on his own accord, Kahandagama alleged that he was seeking medication after being attacked by angry mobs, denying claims that he was in hiding.
“I was not in hiding, I was unwell. I was taking medication after being beaten on the head with helmets. I was attacked at the National Hospital, so I left for a safe place. It was inhumane of the National Hospital to attack a patient. I am saddened that the protestors have stooped to this level,” he added.

On Wednesday, Colombo Fort Chief Magistrate Thilina Gamage also ordered to further remand 13 suspects, including SLPP MPs Sanath Nishantha Perera and Milan Jayathilake, and Sri Lanka Podujana Education Services Union President Wasantha Handapangoda, until 8 June.

Courtesy: The Morning