Recent spate of killings: Authorities must tell public what went wrongó John

by Rohan Mathes

The Minister of Interior John Amaratunga summoned a special press conference to brief the media on the upsurge of crime that has engulfed the nation suddenly with the gruesome killing of "Chandi Malli" murder chief suspect Sunil Rathnaweera and the alleged assassin and main suspect of Kumar Ponnambalamís murder, the police deserter Sugath Ranasinghe on Wednesday (20).

He saluted the gallant police officer who had sacrificed his life in an heroic attempt of getting the culprit under control. "Steps will be taken to pay compensation to his kith and kin and promote him posthumously", he said.

John Amaratunga told the media that the relevant authorities must convey to the general public what, why and how things went wrong and be accountable for consequences which followed.

The DIG Southern range D. W. Prathapasinghe disclosed to the Minister and the media that the three Prisons officials had not carried their T56 rifles at the time of the fatal incident. They had in their possession only one pistol.

The DIG was fully confident they would succeed in arresting all the culprits connected to the incident as they have already identified them and even located the vehicle used for same.

The minister instructed the IGP to hold a full-scale investigation into the whole incident to ascertain whether there had been any dereliction of duty on the part of the officers concerned and take disciplinary action if necessary.

He recommended to include a special squad from Colombo to co-ordinate with the regional police of the area.

He also instructed the Prisons Commissioner General Rumy Marzook to take into custody all cell-phones of the prison inmates as he was made to understand by reliable sources that these cell-phones are being utilised for clandestine communications between the criminals within the prison-cells and contract killers outside for planned and pre-meditated murders.

Speaking at the conference SSP in charge of the Tangalle police division Willie Abeynaike informed that there are two rival underworld gangs which had originated in Suriyawewa namely "Ratnaweera Kalliya" and "Wambotta Kalliya". "They are still operating for prestige", he quipped.

The SSP pointed out that the "Anticipatory Bail" system practiced very frequently by our legal framework the police are placed in an arduous and embarrassing situation in apprehending the hard-core criminals.

The Commissioner General of Prisons and the Secretary to the Ministry of the Interior M. N. Junaid both agreed in principle that this should be rectified at the earliest.