Over 2,637 nabbed, 1,052 remanded | Sunday Observer
May 9 mayhem in Nittambuwa:

Over 2,637 nabbed, 1,052 remanded

19 June, 2022

No one can forget the violent incidents that occurred on May 9.  The violence that began from the Galle Face Green spread throughout the country causing deaths and massive destruction to property in arson attacks. The number of persons killed was ten and over 450 people were injured.  Property worth several millions was destroyed. The losses have still not been properly estimated.

The most inhuman crime that occurred on May 9 was the brutal murder of Polonnaruwa District MP Amarakeerthi Athukorale and his Security Officer Sergeant Jayantha Gunawardane of the Ministerial Security Division in Nittambuwa.

A businessman Harsha Nadishan Jayaweera who suffered critical gunshot injuries also died in the incident. The MP and his security officer met with the tragic fate when the jeep in which they were travelling was caught in a traffic jam. At that moment an organised gang was stopping vehicles at Nittambuwa on the Kandy Road and looking for persons who were fleeing after attacking the demonstrators at Galle Face.

When the gang was trying to search the MP’s vehicle a shooting incident caused serious injuries to six persons including Nadishan Jayaweera who succumbed to his injuries after being hospitalised with the other five victims.  

Following the incident MP Athukorale and his Security Officer Sgt. Jayantha Gunawardane were savagely assaulted and killed when they were fleeing for their lives. They were stripped and their bodies were left on the road with only their underwear. The police took away the bodies in the night.

Thereafter the Nittambuwa police handed over inquiries into the deaths of the MP, his security officer and Nadishan Jayaweera to the CID’s Organised Crimes Investigation Unit. Inquiries began under the direction of Unit’s Director Senior SP Hemal Prashantha a few days after the incident.  

The police team that went to Nittambuwa to conduct inquiries into the incidents reported their progress to the Magistrate’s Court, Attanagalla. The police made use of CCTV cameras and statements of witnesses for the investigations. The CID officers collected CCTV footage of MP Athukorale and Sgt. Gunawardane running along the pavement in Nittambuwa and entering a lift of Nihal Fashions building in the city to escape from the assailants who were chasing after them.

According to the police the MP and the security officer were murdered in the cruelest way as stated in the JMO report.

JMO Wathupiltiwala Hospital Dr. Ramesh Alagiyawanna in his report stated MP Athukorale’s death was due to merciless beating that caused multiple injuries triggering heavy loss of blood.  The gun- shot that killed Sgt. Gunawardana penetrated his lungs and heavy blows on his head had shattered his skull causing blood to flow into his brain.

The first to be arrested in connection with the double murders were Danushka Lakshan and Roshan, residents of Nittambuwa. Two more arrests were made later. They were both young men aged 22.  One of them is a drug addict and working in a shop collecting discarded and damaged items.

The CID was also able to recover the clothes they were wearing that day and a knife suspected to have been used in the murders.

The investigators found Sgt. Gunawardena’s service pistol after they arrested an ex-soldier who revealed that the weapon and its magazine were concealed at a spot near the Nittambuwa Police station. The ex-soldier is a resident of Walabadagama, Kuliyapitiya. The textile and clothing sales centre employee and the young man of Nittambuwa were arrested following the ex-soldier’s arrest.

The police also arrested the main suspect in the double murder. A 29-year-old bus driver, he had fled the area as soon as the investigations began. It was revealed that he was the driver of a bus owned by his father. It is this driver who is suspected of forcing the MP and his Security Officer out of their vehicle.

Thereafter the suspect had allegedly hit the sergeant with a club.  After he fell the assailant had dragged the MP towards the edge of the road before attacking him with the same club.  All this has been recorded on CCTV camera footage. Following the crime the suspect had fled the area.

CID investigators also arrested the man who had allegedly shot Sgt.Gunawardana with the latter’s own pistol.  The main reason for the attack was that some persons who attended the Temple Trees meeting presided over by the then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa assaulted the Galle Face protesters outside Temple Trees.

It had also been revealed that despite the MP telling the assailants that he had not attended the meeting at Temple Trees but was only returning after visiting a friend at Polhengoda, the thugs had attacked the two of them without believing him. Among the others arrested on suspicion were three-wheeler drivers, an employee of a shop collecting discarded and damaged items, a garage employee, drug addicts, carpenters, unemployed persons and university students.

Altogether 32 suspects are in custody. The main magisterial inquiry will be at the Attanagalla Magistrate’s Court. Among the last to be arrested is a senior marketing executive who was taken into custody on May 16, residing at Ellakakala, Nittambuwa.

The total number of persons arrested in connection with violent incidents islandwide is 2,637. Of them 1,052 have been remanded.