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Two monks, 36 ex-service personnel detained
Alleged Plot

* Temple arms cache meant to wreak mayhem
* Opp denies charge, accuses govt of witch hunt
* A serving army officer in custody, more in trouble

Detectives investigating an alleged plot to cause mayhem on the day after the presidential polls on January 26 are hunting for two retired army officers, including a retired Major General wanted for questioning regarding their involvement. They are believed to be the two key people involved in the Opposition campaign involving a coalition of political parties led by the UNP and JVP. Government sources said that they were still believed to be in the country.

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) are questioning 37 persons, including a retired Major General, one serving Brigadier and two Buddhist monks and several civilians in connection with the high profile investigation. Among the detainees are several retired SLAF and SLN officers. Several police officers, too, are under investigation.

Apart from the 37 suspects held under Emergency Regulations, 20 others, including a retired Brigadier arrested by the Gokarella police on the day of the election, are being questioned. Sources said that the suspects were cooperating with investigators.

Government sources told The Island that last Friday’s raid on defeated Opposition presidential candidate General (retd) Sarath Fonseka’s political office situated near Royal College led to the arrests of 23 retired military personnel. Sources said that several others had been taken into custody on the basis of information provided by suspects taken from Fonseka’s political office.

Sources speculated that several serving army officers, including Majors General, who had been asked to resign immediately for allegedly being involved in a conspiracy, too, could face the inquiry. On the recommendation of Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, President Mahinda Rajapaksa over the last weekend appointed Major General Daya Ratnayake as the Chief of Staff as part of the counter measures taken to stabilise the situation.

The Opposition said that there was absolutely no basis for the ongoing investigation. Opposition sources said that the government was targeting retired and serving army officers as part of a strategy to destabilise the Opposition ahead of the forthcoming parliamentary polls. Sources alleged that people would not be deceived by lies propagated by the State-run media now in support of the UPFA parliamentary polls propaganda campaign. The former Army Chief recently dismissed accusations. In the run-up to the poll, Fonseka said that he could have easily moved the Army to Colombo during the war, though he did not do anything illegal.

Government sources said that one of the ex-military personnel still evading the police had paid in cash to book several dozens of rooms at the Cinnamon Lakeside and the Taj. Sources revealed that detectives had already established the identity of some of the people, who had contributed to the Opposition camps. Responding to our queries, sources said that the police had come across this evidence during Friday’s search of the Opposition campaign office at Rajakeeya Mawatha.

Sources alleged that the CCTV cameras at the Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel had been switched off to ensure privacy of those who visited the rooms booked by the Opposition. Sources said that when the Army had moved into cut off both hotels and to thwart any untoward incident, some of the Opposition activists fled leaving their vehicles. Sources said that several motorcycles had been abandoned at the Cinnamon Lakeside before being retrieved by the Opposition camp and moved to the political office at Rajakeeya Mawatha. Some of these motorcycles were recovered during Friday’s raid on the political office. Four of them did not have registration numbers. Sources alleged that some of them could have been operated without number plates.

Sources said that the chief incumbent of the Bodhirukkaramaya temple in the Maligawatte police area was among the suspects held under Emergency Regulations. Sources alleged that the suspect had been with the SLFP for some time before switching his allegiance to the Opposition camp. In fact, he had been provided with a security contingent by the government, though he had subsequently fallen out with the ruling coalition.

Intelligence sources said that the STF had recovered two T 56 assault rifles and 59 hand grenades among other items from the temple three days before the presidential election.

Under interrogation, the monk had admitted that he had access to the political office at Rajakeeya Mawatha. He had strongly denied that he had received any arms, ammunition or any other equipment from the Opposition office and transferred them in a jeep and stored the arsenal at his temple. The Opposition alleged that the monk had been implicated in an attempt to build a case against the legitimate political opposition.

Sources said that investigators had also arrested two Tamils, who had been allegedly involved in the transaction. Sources claimed that investigators had recently seized the jeep in which the conspirators moved the grenades to the temple. The two suspects had received Rs. 150,000 whereas the total deal would have cost the Opposition about Rs. 800,000, a charge denied by the Opposition.

Sources said several other army personnel who had remained with the Opposition candidate, though being asked to report to Army headquarters about two months ago would face a disciplinary inquiry. Sources said that punitive action would be taken against them on the basis of them being deserters.

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