Aftermath of Welikada shoot-out
The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) has taken over the
inquiry into the violent incident at the Welikada Prison last Saturday
when 27 inmates were shot dead by security forces when they were
confronted by armed prisoners in the prison. Sleuths have begun
recording statements of several Special Task Force (STF) officers and
prison officials who witnessed the bloody incident that afternoon,
Police Media Spokesman SSP Prishantha Jayakody told the Sunday Observer.
According to police sources CID sleuths recorded around 15 statements
of prison officials and STF officers who were involved in the incident.
“Several more statements have to be recorded and the inquiry will take
some time before we conclude the entire investigation,” sources said.
The Colombo Crime Division (CCD) has assisted the CID by conducting
inquests on the death of the 27 prisoners and help relatives of the
victims to identify the bodies.
The CCD said the 27 dead persons have been identified by their kith
and kin and their bodies handed over to the relatives last Tuesday
except for five bodies still lying at the hospital morgue at Borella.
Of the 11 prisoners who escaped from the Welikada Prison seven
surrendered to the Borella Police station on Sunday while five escaped
with firearms during the shoot-out. Several police teams have been
despatched to track down the armed escapees who pose a danger to
civilians. Police have flashed several messages to police stations to be
on the look out for armed criminals and arrest them.
Meanwhile, a prisoner who escaped from the Welikada Prison last
Saturday was arrested by the Ruwanwella police last week.
He has been identified by the police as H.B. Thusith Sarada who was
hiding in a house at Dehiowita. The inmate is a resident of Madiwela,
Kotte. He was allegedly involved in a killing in the Mirihana police
The 80 odd firearms stolen by the rioting prisoners from the armoury
have all been recovered except four. The police are now investigating
how the prisoners broke open the armoury despite tight security and
whether any prison official helped them to take the weapons.
However, with the deployment of security forces in the prison, the
attempt made by prisoners to break open the second armoury was prevented
in the nick of time.
The riot which broke out on Saturday around 4.15 p.m continued till
the wee hours of Sunday morning before it was quelled by the army
commandos. Some who died in the shoot-out have been identified as Don
Gayantha Pushpakumara of Nugegoda, Gamage Samantha Fernando, Kulawela
Withanage Don Sameera, Malin Wijesinghe of Dehiwela, Devaraja Malvarage
Sugath Kumara of Kalubowila, Ranasinghe Arachchige Janaka Lasantha of
Horana, Asitha Sanjeewa Dissanayake of Grandpass, Dinuk Sanjeewa
Rajapaksa of Mount Lavinia, Ramanathan Bala Perumal of Bandarawela,
Asarapulige Jothipala alias Kapila of Grandpass, Kankanamalage Milinda
Thilendra Pelpola alias Malan of Kotte, Sri Harshi Mathikeerti Perera
alias Manjushri of Piliyandala, Nirmala Atapattu of Piliyandala,
Thushara Chandana alias Kalukumara of Nawinna, R. Susantha Perera of
Ratmalana, Mohamed Wije Rohana alias Gundu of Borella, Malin Samara
Perera alias Konda Amith of Dehiwela, M. A. Tissa Kumara of Kegalle, T.
H. Leslie de Silva of Hikkaduwa, M. Salaldeen Mohamed Azwardeen of
Colombo 12, Weligama K. Asanga Udaya Kumara, Walage Lasantha Wijesiri of
Galle, Ratnaweera Patabendige Leslie of Rajagiriya, Warnakulasuriya
Mudiyanselage Sarath Weerasooriya of Galgamuwa, Sarath Prasada Silva of
Ratmalana, Mohamed Rashmi Naufer of Akkaraipattu, Kannaku Perumalge
Priyantha of Karandeniya and Liyana Arachchige Anura.
The brutal riot engulfed the Welikada Prison when a group of
prisoners mostly hardcore prisoners languishing for murder, rape, those
for drug related offences and those in the death row, broke their cells
and attacked the STF in the prison engaged in a search operation for
smuggled heroin and mobile phones. The inmates who attacked the STF
officers were a small group of people numbering about 20. However, when
the STF retaliated, word began to spread to other areas of the prison,
and a full scale riot erupted thereafter.
According to police sources hardcore prisoners serving sentences have
often communicated with the underworld by using smuggled mobile phones
in the prisons.
The underworld bosses had even killed their opponents in the past
while serving jail terms. Notable among them was the mafia's godfather
Nawala Nihal who was abducted and killed by vigilantes after his release
from prison.Following the riot last week it is reported that prison
officials were not equipped to take prisoners to courts due to handcuffs
and chains being stolen by the rioting prisoners.
It is reported that around 200 prisoners from Welikada are taken
daily to attend various courts in the Western Province. However,
according to the Commissioner General of Prisons P.W. Kodippili, prison
officials commenced taking prisoners to courts on Wednesday. The
Commissioner General recently expressed suspicion that the rioting
prisoners had inside help from some prison officers to break into the
prison armoury. He said that corrupt prison officers are very much
against police raids inside prisons to search for drugs and mobile
phones. According to officials, four of the escapees are convicted
prisoners while the fifth is a suspect. The four weapons including a gas
gun taken away by the prison escapees have not been recovered yet.
Forty-three people sustained injuries in the riot. Among them were 13
STF officers including its Commandant, DIG Ranawana.
The Government has appointed a high-powered committee to probe
Friday's clash between the inmates of the Welikada Prison and the police
sought a court order to direct media institutions to hand over video
footage and photographs of the clash to assist the CID in its
Kodippili told the Sunday Observer that the situation at the Welikada
Prison has returned to normal and Prison officers have begun escorting
remand prisoners to various Magistrates' and other High Courts in the
Western Province where cases have been filed against them.
The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka will commence an
investigation on last week's riot at the Welikade Prison in Colombo.
The Commission will investigate and prepare a report on the incident
that killed 27 inmates and injured 43 others following the riot. The
Welikade prison was built in 1841 by the then British Colonial
Government under Governor Cameron.
The Welikada Prison also known as the Magazine Prison with maximum
security is the largest prison in Sri Lanka covering an area of 48
acres. The prison is overcrowded with 1,700 detainees exceeding the
actual number that could be accommodated.