Garment factory clerk succumbs to injuries

By Sandasen Marasinghe

A clerk succumbed to his injuries sustained by gun fire when an unidentified gang opened fire on May 9 on a vehicle carrying wages of employees of Nelum Fashions Garment factory in Yatiyantota.

Athukoralage Premasiri (31) of Meegaswatta, Yatiyantota died, on Saturday (11), at the Colombo National Hospital.

D. M. Gamini Dasanayake (32) of Maharangalla, Undugoda at the inquest said: The deceased and he were clerks of the Nelum Fashions Garment factory. The employees of the factory are paid their wages on tenth of every month. On May 9 Gamini went to People’s Bank in Yatiyantota with Premasiri and the driver Ajith Adikari to encash a cheque. The driver after dropping them at the bank went to the police station and returned with two police constables armed with T-56 rifles.

"We collected the money and went along Karawanella road in Yatiyantota. At Gomaduwa a blue colour van crossed the road so that we couldn’t move the van. A man got down and shot at us. The constables in our van retaliated. I crept under the seat and was safe but sustained wound on my shoulder. I heard the sound of fire arms for about three minutes. Then the gangsters fled towards Karawanella. They couldn’t loot the money. Money was under the seat", he said.

Witness said that the constable in uniform was shot at and he was bleeding on his face, Premasiri was shot on his stomach and he screamed in pain and the driver, Adikari was shot at on his shoulder. The driver couldn’t drive as he was severely injured. The civil-dressed police constable who was in the front seat drove the vehicle to the Karawanella Hospital and admitted the victims to the hospital and the money was handed over to the Yatiyantota Police Station.

"I cannot identify the suspects. Later I came to know that a suspect fled into the land near by with a hand grenade. There were more than 20 holes in the van we travelled. The police constable who was in uniform died after the incident. Later I came to know of the death of Premasiri", Dasanayake said.

Athukoralage Dharmasena (48) of Meegaswatta, Yatiyantota at the inquest said that the deceased was his younger brother. He was married and had two children of five years and two months. After he was shot he was taken to Karawanella Hospital, transferred to Avissawella Hospital and later to the Colombo National Hospital where he died.

The City Coroner, Edward Ahangama, returned a verdict of homicide.

The evidence was led by PC Sunil (17193) of Yatiyantota Police Station.