An attempt by the Defence Secretary to involve several security personnel in the murder of The Sunday Leader Editor, Lasantha Wickrematunge and the attack on Rivira Editor Upali Tennakoon has now been revealed.
An army solider who had arrived at the court complex when the case filed by the Attorney General on the Defence Secretary’s insistence against former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka on enlisting the services of 10 army personnel after retiring from the active service and contesting the Presidential election was taken up for hearing. Fonseka has been charged on 41 counts including using the army personnel to work against the government.
The 10 army personnel who provided security to him during the period of the Presidential election were sent back to their regiments by Fonseka on January 27th, 2010, the day after the Presidential election. However, they had been arrested by the Military Police and had been held in custody for three months and had been pressurized and harassed to give evidence against Fonseka.
The soldiers had agreed to become state witnesses after they had been threatened to be sent to jail for life by involving them in Lasnatha’s murder and the attack on Upali.
A senior army officer had informed them that they had been arrested on the advice of the Colombo Crimes Division for allegedly murdering Lasantha and attacking Upali.
Their statements had been recorded from 31.01.2010 after threatening them in such a manner.
IP Ravindra Karawita, IP Kularatne, SI Thibbatuwela and several police personnel who had arrived at the Panagoda Army Camp had recorded statements from these army soldiers in a manner they could frame Fonseka.
The police personnel have also recorded statements against Retired Captain Senaka Haripriya Arnold de Silva also known as “Sha Silva” who served as Fonseka’s private secretary during the period of the elections.
Brigadier G.J.A. Weerasinghe gave evidence against Fonseka in court on the 13th after being intimidated by the Defence Secretary. Colonel C.S. Etipola and Lieutenant Colonel A.P.R. Premalal are to give evidence in future.
The case filed against Fonseka has named 29 witnesses.