Extradition of Harak Kata and Kudu Salindu: a journey fraught with danger | Sunday Observer

Extradition of Harak Kata and Kudu Salindu: a journey fraught with danger

19 March, 2023
Harak Kata-Kudu Salindu
Harak Kata-Kudu Salindu

The repatriation of alleged drug kingpins Nadun Chinthaka Wickramaratne alias Haraka Kata and Salindu Malshitha Gunaratne alias Kudu Salindu from Madagascar to Sri Lanka is a great victory to the Sri Lanka Police.

It is the longest distance extradition carried out in the country’s history. Previously drug kingpin Makandure Madhush was repatriated from Dubai on May 5, 2019 in a similar fashion by a team of CID sleuths led by SSS Indika Lokuhettiage while Wele Suda and Siddique were repatriated from Pakistan in 2015. In addition to this, Mohamed Milhan alias Abu Seelan linked to the Easter Sunday attack and LTTE’s Kumaran Pathmanatha alias KP was also brought back to Sri Lanka by the Police.

The repatriation of alleged drug kingpins Harak Kata and Kudu Salindu operating internationally was a dangerous and exhausting effort as they had to be brought through several countries and three flights while being protected for 48 hours without putting the duo in handcuffs. The danger of them possibly escaping during the time was a real threat faced by the officers.

Salindu’s wife

According to the Police the criminal gang had arrived in Madagascar on a private jet from Dubai on February 12. Accompanying them had been Kudu Salindu’s wife and two other underworld figures Suddha and Tharanga linked to the shooting at an ambulance on the premises of a hospital in Panadura. The reason for their visit was to attend a party organised by Salindu living in Madagascar at the time.

Police said he had married a local woman and was a father to a one and a half year old. He was nabbed along with Harak Kata by the Police based on information received from the Interpol when he was at the airport in Madagascar intending to travel to Dubai.

The repatriation was supported by the Minister of Public Security, Tiran Alles who provided the necessary support and resources for the process. Accordingly a team of four officers travelled to Madagascar on March 11. The Police claim the duo had attempted to secure their release from the Madagascar Police by offering US$ 600,000 for their freedom but had failed. A team of lawyers from Sri Lanka had also travelled to Madagascar in an attempt to secure their release but had suffered a similar fate.

The CID team arriving in Madagascar had held discussions with the Head of Police in Madagascar and their Minister of Justice prior to the extradition. The duo was brought under high security to the airport and it was reported that they had engaged in a physical tussle with the local police at this juncture.

International laws

The Police said the duo had begun shouting claiming to be members of the mafia and hurling verbal abuse at the officers to prevent them from being taken to the flight. However, the situation was brought under control by the team of CID officers.

While handcuffing of the suspects was not allowed under international laws, a 10-hour layover in Kenya was a challenge to the CID. The duo refused to be put in a secure room claiming they would take their lives and insisted they be allowed to sit on the public chairs available at the airport. After a long wait the air crew refused to have them onboard due to an issue with security clearance resulting in the group missing the flight. The next flight was in another eight long hours, thus prolonging the CID’s mission.

The Police claim the duo pleaded to be released and questioned as to why they were being brought back to Sri Lanka. Once again during the layover in Mumbai they had refused to be kept in a secure room forcing the CID to obtain additional security assistance from the authorities there. However, the flight to Sri Lanka was further delayed when a passenger scheduled to take the flight fell ill and died onboard. However, the CID team along with the two suspects arrived in Sri Lanka on March 15 at 5.30 a.m.

Another team of CID officials had arrived at the airport to arrest the duo by this time. Accordingly, Harak Kata was arrested in connection to a shooting that was carried out at the Mount Lavinia Court on August 4, 2022 while Salindu was arrested in connection with the shooting that took place at a hospital in Panadura in 2021. They were transported under special STF protection to the CID under a 90-day detention order.

Investigations are now underway into their alleged involvement in the drug trade and crimes.