Fresh evidence emerges | Sunday Observer
Death of Dinesh Schaffter:

Fresh evidence emerges

1 January, 2023

On December 15, a leading businessman Dinesh Schaffter died under suspicious circumstances. Despite being suspected as a murder, the Police are yet to arrest a suspect in connection to the incident.

While the Borella Police carried out initial investigations, just 48 hours after his death the investigations were handed over to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) on the orders of the Inspector General of Police due to the high profile nature of the case.

The main eyewitness of the case to date is M. Nilam, a worker at the Borella Cemetery who on the day also assisted to take Schaffter to hospital after being found fighting for his life. Nilam, a resident of the area, has been employed at the cemetery since 2015. He is employed as a grave digger and has a good knowledge of the cemetery.

Orphan section

On the day of Schaffter’s death Nilam had reported to work at 8.30 am. Around 2.30 pm he had been around a section of the cemetery called the ‘Orphan Section’ waiting for a cortege. Schaffter’s vehicle had been a mere 5 metres from this location.

Nilam is said to have seen a thin tall man hurriedly moving away from Schaffter’s car on the day. According to him, the man dressed in a trouser and shirt had gone towards the crematorium. The worker said he will be able to recognise the man if he encounters him again. If this man was Dinesh Schaffter’s killer or an innocent passerby is yet unknown.

After the mysterious man disappeared from the area, Krish Perera, a friend and employee of Schaffter, arrived on the scene.

Dressed in a white shirt and black pants, Krish was seen screaming and shouting near Schaffter’s car. Nilam, witnessing this scene, goes to the location along with John, a fellow worker at the cemetery.

Perera had opened the car door only after the duo had arrived near the car. According to Nilam, they saw Schaffter who had his hands tied with cable ties. They also witnessed another wire had been wrapped around his body.


It was Nilam who removed this wire. Though he had attempted to also loosen the cable ties, it had been difficult. Nilam, John and Perera had then moved Schaffter to the passenger seat with great difficulty. The duo then accompanied Perera to take Schaffter to the hospital. On the way Nilam had attempted to bring Schaffter about by massaging his chest. However his death was inevitable despite his efforts while leaving a perplexing mystery behind the businessman’s death. While there have been attempts made to claim his death was due to a suicide, evidence gathered tells a different story.

While questions were posed if a man could strangle himself in a car, it was found that similar incidents have been reported previously. For example on August 9, 2020 a man identified as Rashendra Koshitha Premadasa was found to have hanged himself in his vehicle bearing number plate CQR 1585. It was proven to not be a murder due to the CCTV footage from the location showing Premadasa as the only occupant in the car at the time. The manner of death was also proven through scientific methods leaving no doubts behind.

However, in Schaffter’s incident the Police do not seem to have found enough compelling evidence to rule it a suicide which was also said by Police Spokesman SSP Nihal Talduwa.

SSP Talduwa

Some media reported had presented a letter allegedly written by Schaffter to his mother in law as evidence of him having died by suicide.

However, SSP Talduwa has refuted these claims and said the Police have not discovered any letter during investigations. The Spokesman was also forced to highlight that the dissemination of such misinformation could become beneficial to the real suspects.

Had Schaffter intended to die by suicide due to financial issues or otherwise it is questionable as to why he took such great efforts in carrying out the act when he could have chosen more easier methods. Experts believe it will also be scientifically difficult to prove Schaffter had died by suicide due to him being found in the driver’s seat with a wire wrapped around his body.

The post mortem has ruled that he had died due to a strangulation with the force coming from behind. While there could be ways Schaffter could have committed this on his own leaving JMOs to not rule it out, a large amount of scientific evidence will have to be gathered to prove it.

The opinion that Schaffter had died by suicide started circulating following a visit by CID officials to Schaffter’s home located on Flower Road. Here the CID had found an antenna cable they deemed suspicious to the Government Analyst’s Department similar to the one found wrapped around Schaffter. They had also found cable ties similar to those used on Schaffter inside a drawer in his room. But these discoveries were made one week after his death. During this time many would have visited the Schaffter residence including many outsiders.

The CID has already discovered significant information through messages exchanged by Schaffter and call records as well as clear and compelling CCTV footage which are currently being analysed.


Had Schaffter in fact died by suicide, the final text sent to cricket commentator Brian Thomas is perplexing. Perera has said that Schaffter informed him he was leaving to meet Thomas on the day while Perera and Schaffter’s wife Tarni had expressed their suspicions about Thomas to the Police. Therefore to say Schaffter died by suicide now is in fact confusing especially as he had even purchased food on the way to the site of his death.

While some in his family and connected to his businesses say Schaffter had lost nearly Rs. 20 billion in investments, financial details around this claim is yet to be ascertained by officials. Investigators are also said to be looking into the claim that Schaffter had attempted to sell his luxury house in Colombo 7.

Despite the many claims being made, the IGP is said to have met the investigators and directed them to carry out investigations into the incident with an open and unbiased mind.