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Kotakadeniya says Lasantha’s killing could be UNP job

The military was engaged in anti-terror operations in North fulltime and had no time and energy to expend on assassinations in the South. However during its reign, the UNP was in a position to muster rogue elements like ASP Kulasiri Udugampola to engage in its dirty work, former senior DIG cum Advisor to Defence Ministry H. M. G. B. Kotakadeniya said yesterday.

Addressing a JHU press conference at the National Library auditorium, Kotakadeniya, who had been in charge of crime and criminal intelligence at Police Headquarters, said that the UNP had a history replete with political assassinations and its involvement in the assassination of the Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunga could not be ruled out.

ASP Kulasiri Udugampola, who was in charge of the Kennel Division of Kandy Police in 2002, had been used by the UNP to raid an Army Safe House at Athurugiriya despite assurances from the then Army Commander Lt. Gen. Lionel Balagalle that it had been operated with his permission. For those who were in a position even to override The Army Commander, an assassination of a newspaperman was child’s play. Therefore, he said, the UNP was also a suspect in the assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunga, though it was pointing the fingers at the Government.

JHU Legal Advisor cum Chairman of the Central Environment Authority Udaya Gammanpila said at the time of the death Lasantha had drifted towards the Government as was evident from his meetings with the President and therefore a logical conclusion would be that he would be gunned down by those who were opposed to the emerging relationship.

Gammanpila said if the UNP had information about the killers as it claimed, as a responsible party, it had to furnish those details to the police so that the Government could initiate legal action against the perpetrators. "If the UNP could come out with details, we pledge that we would get the Government to punish the criminals," he said adding that without providing details. making use of the Lasantha’s body to accuse the government with the hope of gaining political mileage is immoral. "That’s second class politics," he said.

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