UNP Gen. Secy. admits chairman-elect arrested for predecessor’s murder

by Shamindra Ferdinando
UNP General Secretary Senarath Kapukotuwa yesterday said that chairman-elect of the Hikkaduwa Urban Council (UNP) has been arrested in connection with the alleged involvement in the recent assassination of his predecessor Gamini Pinnaduwa.

He was shot dead while seated at his office desk on March 24.

Responding to questions, Kapukotuwa said: "The police headquarters has been asked to go ahead with its inquiries. The UNP will not interfere in anyway."

Initially the police and government politicians accused a PA politician representing a local government body in the area of ordering the assassination, police sources said. IGP T. E. Anandarajah subsequently directed the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to take over the probe as the local police was unable to make much headway.

The UNP leadership is under pressure to discipline several parliamentarians and one local government politician accused of being involved in violent disputes with police. Kapukotuwa said that they were also inquiring into them and will not hesitate to take disciplinary action if there was sufficient evidence against politicians.

Kapukotuwa said that the police authorities kept the ruling party informed of the Hikkaduwa investigation. "It was unfortunate a partyman has been implicated in it," he said, adding that the party too will initiate disciplinary action against the suspect if police investigators succeeded in proving his involvement.

A senior police officer said that the gunman and his accomplice had been arrested. They were identified as army deserters. Police has also recovered a 9 mm pistol used by the deserter who fired a dozen shots at point blank range at the victim.

He said investigations revealed the local government politician has been involved in the assassination. He said: "It is an unprecedented case. We have sufficient evidence to implicate him in the case." He added: "The arrest was made after the Interior Ministry was informed."

The suspect was taken into custody from a private hospital at Galle. As soon as he was told of the need to take his statement in connection with the investigation, he got himself admitted to the private hospital. Investigators believe that Pinnaduwa was assassinated as his deputy wanted his job.

Police said that the politician had been in touch with the deserters. Investigators were trying to establish whether the deserters were involved in any previous political killings.

Responding to questions, the CID said that the government did not obstruct the investigators.