Lasantha’s daughter takes Gota head on | Sunday Observer

Lasantha’s daughter takes Gota head on

Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa has responded to an article written by Ahimsa Wickrematunge, the daughter of murdered journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge, in which she shared her suspicion that Rajapaksa had a hand in her father’s murder.

“If Lasantha’s daughter wants to know who his murderers are,” Rajapaksa said, “ask her to come to Sri Lanka and meet me. I will tell her what happened.” The former defence secretary made these comments in an interview published in a Sinhalese weekly yesterday.

In a widely published article, titled “what they did to my father and why they did it” written to mark the 10-year anniversary of the January 8, 2009 murder of her father, The Sunday Leader’s editor-in-chief, Ahimsa Wickrematunge detailed her recollections of Lasantha Wickrematunge confessing candidly to her that he would be murdered to prevent him from testifying in civil litigation against the former defence secretary.

“I’m sure he is telling the truth,” Ahimsa Wickrematunge told Sunday Observer, “when he claims to know who my father’s murderers are.” Speaking from Melbourne, she declined Rajapaksa’s offer of a face-to-face meeting in Sri Lanka. “I’m not the police. He should tell the CID what he knows. He should have done so at the outset, instead of handing out diplomatic postings to suspects and showing the world how happy he was that my father had been murdered.”

Wickrematunge was referring to Maj Prabath Bulathwatte, an army intelligence officer who was arrested by the CID in 2017 in connection with the May 2008 white van abduction and torture of journalist Keith Noyahr. In January 2010, the day Bulathwatte’s Tripoli platoon came under investigation by the CID in connection with the Wickrematunge murder, then Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa signed an order immediately recalling a military intelligence officer from a diplomatic posting in Thailand and ordering that Bulathwatte be sent in his place. “For some reason, the defence secretary himself was in a mighty hurry to send this Major abroad, in violation of the presidential elections regulations that were in place with the polls barely a week away,” Ahimsa Wickrematunge wrote in her article.

The diplomatic appointment ordered by Rajapaksa was dated January 18, 2010, eight days before the presidential election between incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa and former army commander Sarath Fonseka. The CID have not, to date, alleged any wrongdoing on the part of the former defence secretary in connection with this diplomatic appointment.

Neither Rajapaksa nor Bulathwatte have formally been named as suspects in the Wickrematunge murder by the CID at the Mount Lavinia Magistrates Court. Reporting progress to court last week, IP Nishantha Silva of the CID said the slain editor’s closest relatives believed that former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa was connected to an irregular transaction involving the purchase of MiG-27 aircraft for the Sri Lanka Air Force. In a lengthy written submission, IP Silva reported to court that the victim’s decision to publish articles about the transaction and Rajapaksa family corruption in his newspaper was the most proximate reason for the assassination. Facts about Gotabaya Rajapaksa had also been highlighted in a threat made by a suspect in the case, Premananda Udulagama to Lasantha’s driver N.K. Dias, who was abducted and threatened after the assassination.

The CID also informed court that in spite of a court order served on January 7, 2019 instructing Derana TV to present unedited footage of an interview aired with the former Defence Secretary on August 19, 2007, the video had not been handed over to investigators to date. In a chilling portion of the interview aired by Derana TV in August 2007, about 16 months before Wickrematunge was murdered, the then Defence Secretary refers to journalists writing ‘filth’ about him then driving around alone in their cars, making driving gestures with his hands for the camera. This portion of the interview was shared widely on social media earlier this month.

The former defence secretary quipped that Lasantha Wickrematunge’s “first wife, second wife, daughter, brother and successor as Editor of The Sunday Leader are all overseas. The journalists who wrote for him also live overseas. Only Lasantha’s corpse is here now.” He alleged that “all of them know the assassin” but that “no one wants these investigations done properly.”

The remark drew a sharp rebuke from Ahimsa Wickrematunge. “These people had to flee overseas in fear of their lives. When my brothers and I were children our bedrooms in Nugegoda were almost hit by machine gun fire meant for my father. Death threats were a part of daily life. We didn’t have 200 bodyguards to hide behind like he did.”

The former defence secretary also charged that the Wickrematunge murder investigation “has stopped at the same point it stopped when our government was conducting the probe,” a claim that Ahimsa Wickrematunge dismissed outright.

“If he believes that the CID investigation has stopped or can be stopped, he can think so at his own peril,” Wickrematunge said. “I trust the CID. They will get to the truth and unravel the entire conspiracy. When they do, even his own brothers will be very keen to hear what Gotabaya Rajapaksa has to say.”

 

Comments

this is a big surprise. if gota knows the story and killers, he should reveal this to CID and not to lasantha's daughter! (please publish this) it may be true that some people in armed forces did thins without the knowledge of the then government. even American investigation exonerated gota.

Who is Gota is he is a big gun to call people to come face to face talks, it's piggish to face and talk to murderers, thuggish, corrupt and shameless guys like him. Nobody has to come to his feet or to the doorstep, the case is going on go CID and spits out all and surrender as gentlemen if yourself clean guy. This well known former editors daughter has all the wrights to finds out that she has gone through since her childhood stages to bring the murders culprits to justice and punish. Gota cannot say all the family is living abroad and only the editors corps are in Sri Lanka. He and his brother and their henchman culprits can live in USA and other countries and do thuggish wonders, politics in Island can tell and show those Madamulana people who with out there spine bending and coming behind the Madamulana made up walawua, erlier a remote normal village house. Corrupt, Corrupt are uncountable. Hopes for justice.