John denies making CID a witch-hunter

by Shamindra Ferdinando
Interior Minister John Amaratunga yesterday rejected PA claims that the police department, particularly the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) was engaged in an indiscriminate politically motivated campaign against the PA.

Amaratunga, who publicly clashed with President Chandrika Kumaratunga over what she described as illegal police action, said that the opposition was making some ridiculous claims over the ongoing investigations on the Presidential Security Division (PSD), abuse of state-owned vehicles during the last parliamentary elections in December and several other cases including the setting of fire to actress Anoja Weerasinghe’s Bibile home several years ago.

"There are more cases to be investigated," he said, adding that if the government wanted to sling mud at the PSD and its political masters it could have set up a special commission.

The minister said the CID was carrying out investigations in a proper and systematic way.

The minister said that PA leaders were talking as if they were not aware of what the PSD and some others under investigation did during the PA rule. The PSD is under investigation for its alleged involvement in several high-profile cases including the attack on the singing duo Rukantha and Chandralekha Gunatilake, killing of Satana editor Rohana Kumara and pre-parliamentary poll violence (at Hanguranketha).

The minister said that these allegations were similar to the allegations the PA made after losing the recent local government elections.

PA spokesman Dr. Sarath Amunugama on Friday (12) levelled a series of allegations against the Interior Ministry, while claiming that the police has been transformed to a political arm. It was described as Gestapo referring to the wartime German secret service.

PA frontliner Anura Bandaranaike recently declared that President Kumaratunga can take over the police if Amaratunga is unable to handle it properly.

The minister said that there was no point in trying to protect policemen and others who carried out illegal orders. Can they say that there was no massacre at Udathalawinna where ten men died in a hail of bullets on December 5 last year, he asked, expressing the belief that the government has no option but to continue with investigations into all cases which were not probed at that time.

He said that it was the PA which used violence as a political tool while allowing party strongmen to do whatever they wanted.