Killings outside due process comes into limelight: Chitrangani files habeas corpus | Sunday Observer

Killings outside due process comes into limelight: Chitrangani files habeas corpus

The death of Patabendi Don Nandasiri Wijeweera, better known as Comrade Rohana Wijeweera, founder of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) over 28 years ago, was at the time, one of the most high profile alleged extrajudicial killings in Sri Lanka.

While the recent possible extrajudicial killing of underworld figure Chamara Indrajith, the main suspect connected to the armed robbery in Matara is being widely discussed, the country’s history of killings outside the due process is once again being highlighted, as the wife of Rohana Wijeweera filed a habeas corpus writ petition this week to locate her husband.

According to Chitrangani Wijeweera, wife of the slain political figure, the aim of the petition which names 11 respondents was submitted to uncover the truth as regards what happened to her husband on November 12, 1989, following his arrest by government sleuths in Ulapane, Kandy, where he had gone into hiding, with his family. “As a family, we just need to know the truth regarding what happened at the time,” she said.

Over the years and even at the time, the specific details on the Marxist icon’s death remained unclear. As government officials contradicted the events leading up to his death, some claimed he was summarily executed, while others said he was burned alive. But 29 years on, the family has not been given any proof of his death. “They have not even been issued a death certificate” Senaka Perera, the lawyer representing the family said. Neither has an inquest into the death taken place.

However, many have been quick to question the sudden move by Chitrangani to seek an explanation after almost three decades since Wijeweera was arrested. “We were not able to come forward to take such a step due to the circumstances we have been living in,” she said, when questioned. The family has been living within the Welisara Naval Barracks since Wijeweera’s death.

In the petition filed before courts on Friday, Chithrangani claims, even now she is in fear to come forward and file the case. Having suffered immensely after the loss of her husband, and struggling with six children, she says, being kept in protective custody, and semi detention after some time, prevented her from coming forward earlier, as she did not have the necessary freedom to do so.

While the habeas corpus petition names the Attorney General, former Presidential Secretary K.H Wijedasa, former Minister of Defence Ranjan Wijeratne, Major General Janaka Perera and seven others connected to government intelligence, armed forces and Ministry Defence at the time, the petitioner also alleges she was never informed of any offence her husband had committed, to be arrested as such.

To date, she claims she has never seen her husband’s body and was also not officially informed of his detention.

“The family needs to know if he is alive or if he was killed,” Attorney-at-law Senaka Perera said pointing out that if he was killed then an inquiry should have been held and witnesses called. “No such steps had been taken and the confusion on what exactly happened to Wijeweera still remains” he said adding that the Government must give a precise answer to the family.

Meanwhile, expressing his opinions regarding the petition, JVP propaganda secretary, MP Vijitha Herath has welcomed the move of the Wijeweera family to go in search of the truth behind his death. “Better late than never” he was quoted as saying adding that it should have happened many years back.


The truth should be known to the People. This question is in the minds of most Sri Lankans.