Will mystery suicide reveal layers of conspiracy? | Sunday Observer

Will mystery suicide reveal layers of conspiracy?

In a twist that takes the Journalist Lasantha Wickramatunga assassination into the realm of conspiracy fantasies, investigators will now ascertain whether the recent mystery death of an ex-intelligence agent is genuinely the remorseful suicide of the actual killer or, is a cynically deliberate murder by the real Lasantha assassins aimed at deflecting the ongoing probe.

The assassination of the editor of the English language investigative weekly, Sunday Leader in January 2009 shocked the news media world and the nation as a whole. But the long drawn investigation itself seems to indicate attempts to hide the truth at first and then, with the change of government, a vigorous probe that seems to uncover layers of conspiracy perhaps implicating various actors in the political as well military spheres.

Already there has been much speculation in the media and in the country whether the investigation into Lasantha assassination was swept under the carpet during the last government. Speculation has heightened recently with the revived probe revealing a possible military intelligence link to the murder. The possibility of military intelligence links surfaced as early as 2010 but does not seem to have been pursued at the time.

The case was apparently suppressed after the statement made by Jesudasan, a mechanic in the hill country, who was questioned over the purchase of five phone connections which were allegedly used by people who had followed Lasantha Wickremathunga from his way from his Battaramulla office to his residence at Kandewatta Terrace on that fateful day in 2009. The investigtions seem to have slowed down after it was reportedly revealed that those SIM cards were allegedly used by military intelligence operatives.

The investigations saw a major breakthrough on 15 July this year with the arrest of Staff Sergeant Premananda Udalagama, an officer attached to Army Intelligence. However, these efforts to complete the investigations are now confronted with apparent moves by various players behind this assassination to divert the investigations.

Committed suicide

The latest twist occurred two weeks ago when the sudden apparent suicide by an ex-military intelligence officer again affirmed the suspected military intelligence link to the Lasantha assassination. The retired Sergeant Major living near Kegalle, allegedly committed suicide on June 14. A storm broke out when his supposed ‘suicide note’ claimed his responsibility for assassinating Lasantha Wickremathunge and requested the release of the suspect already in remand custody over the murder.

Retired Sergeant Major Edirisinghe Jayamanne, a 51 year-old father of three grown up children, residing at Dehipitiya Road, Karandupana, Kegalle, was found hanged by a nylon rope on October 14 morning and the suicide note he had apparently written was found on his body. The note, at first, seemed to divert the Lasantha assasination investigation into another direction.

Now, amid a deluge of media speculation about the ‘suicide’ and the suicide note, CID teams are carefully investigating into this mystery death as they believe it would make a major breakthrough in their investigation into the Lasantha case.

An investigator close to the investigation told the Sunday Observer, that they were digging deep into Sergeant Major Jayamanne’s suicide. It seems that investigators had anticipated possible attempts to divert the probe.

Authenticity

“What we want to know is whether he was forced to commit suicide and, if so, who had forced him to do so. We find that there is no other personal reason for him to commit suicide as he had apprently no family problems or other personal problems,” the official added.

Police are focussing on the authenticity of the suicide note, especially the specific way Jayamanne had referred to Premananda Udalagama, who is now in remand custody in connection with the Lasantha case. Jayamanne had stated that Nalinda Udalagama is not responsible for the murder of Lasantha Wickremathunga.

If the suicide note is an authentic one and Serageant Major Jayamanne was indeed responsible for the assassination, it only further deepens the mystery although it continues to implicate elements of Army Intelligence.

While Jayamanne had indeed worked in Intelligence, he had retired from the Army long before the 2009 assassination.

IGP Pujith Jayasundara has directed the CID to further dig into the mystery suicide after making submissions to the Magistrate’s Court in Mount Lavinia where the Lasantha Wickremathunge assasination case is heard. Thus, despite confirmation by Ramesh Alagiyavanna, Judicial Medical Officer, Kegalle, who conducted the autopsy, that the death of Jayamanne was caused by asphyxiation due to hanging using a nylon rope, the CID teams wanted the body to be exhumed for further investigations.

On a request made by the CID, the Mount Lavinia Magistrate ordered the exhumation of Jayamane’s body for further investigation and the body was exhumed on October 19 before Kegalle Magistrate Gihan Meegahage.

Finger prints

The CID took Jayamanne’s finger prints and his palm prints to continue their investigations to see whether he had been directly involved in Lasantha Wickremathuge murder.

“This will help to check whether his finger prints are matching with the finger prints found in the vehicle in which Lasantha Wickremathunge was travelling at the time of his assassination”, the official added.

Though the body was exhumed as Jayamanne’s finger prints were not taken before burying his body, a fresh autopsy is also due to be conducted by a three member medical board to confirm whether there were any evidence to say that there were any external involvement behind his suicide.

Accordingly, a fresh autopsy will be conducted by a three member medical board headed by Colombo Chief Judicial Medical Officer Dr. Ajith Tennekone, Senior Professor Gene Perera of the Colombo University and Ramesh Alagiyawanna, the Judicial Medical Officer of the Kegalle General Hospital.

Search warrant

A search warrant has also been taken by the CID team investigating into Jayamanne’s suicide to search his house and they have traced some important documents after searching his house, CID sources revealed.

The investigations also focussing on the bank accounts of Jayamanne, his family members and close relatives to find whether he had got any undue income from anybody in the past and according to sources 30 bank accounts of his family members have been checked for this purpose.

Jayamanne who had retired from the Army in 2007, had lived at his home with his three children, as his wife was employed in a Middle Eastern country.

His eldest son is following a course in Kadawatha, while the other two sons are school students. Earlier, Sergeant Major Jayamanne had been arrested in connection with Athurugiriya Millennium City case along with Premamananda Udalagama and had later turned as a state witness.

Army camps

Apart from this the CID teams are also investigating the places Jayamanne had visited before his death as there are indications that he had visited several Army camps, the days prior to committing suicide. According to initial investigation Jayamanne had left his home on October 11 saying that he was going to Colombo and had returned home only on October 13 around 7.30 pm. “We are conducting investigations about the places he had visited during these days as it would give insight into his sudden decision to the commit suicide”, an officer close to these investigations said. However, the verification of these facts would be a difficult task if there is no support from the relevant authorities especially from the military in this regard, the officials added.

The telephone calls he had taken during these days are also under investigation and the CID is getting the support of five telecommunication companies in this regard. It is reliably learnt that investigators are focussing special attention towards a telephone call he had made with a powerful politician and with military intelligence officials during these days, they are due to be questioned soon by the CID officials.

With this new turn in Lasantha Wickremathunge murder investigations those who were seeking justice to Lasantha Wickremathunge’s murder fear that once again the investigations would come to a grinding halt if Jayamanne was the real assasinator of Lasantha Wickremathunga.

“If he was the real assassin the investigation will not come to an end. We will continue our investigations further to ascertain who had given directions for such assassinations. We need to know the real perpetrator as Premananda Udalagama now in remand custody has been arrested in connection with the abduction and threatening of Lasantha Wickremathunga’s driver but not for direct links for the murder of Wickremathunge”, the official added. According to these officials the previous investigations into the murder has been done in order to cover up the perpetrators and fresh investigations are aimed at streamlining the investigations to bring the perpetrators to book. The exhuming of Lasantha Wickremathunga’s body was one such step to establish the real cause for the death as two conflicting autopsies had given two reasons as the cause of death.

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