Civil society alleges Gotabhaya responsible for Noyahr abduction

NGO activist shoots in the dark



By Shamindra Ferdinando

A civil society grouping that campaigned for Maithripala Sirisena at the January 2015 presidential poll yesterday alleged that the wartime Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was behind the abduction of Associate Editor of The Nation, Keith Noyahr in May 2008.

Addressing the media at the Centre for Society and Religion (CSR) Chameera Perera, co-convenor of the Left Centre alleged that the ongoing investigation pointed to the direct responsibility of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in the heinous crime.

Perera claimed that those who had been arrested in connection with the abduction of the journalist had shed light on Gotabhaya Rajapaksa involvement during ongoing investigations.

The police (Criminal Investigation Department) have so far arrested five army personnel in this connection. The suspects had been attached to the Military Intelligence and were accused of taking the journalist to Dompe where he was tortured.

When The Island pointed out that there hadn’t been court proceedings or official statements attributed to police headquarters or any other authority in respect of the former Defence Secretary’s alleged involvement even though the Left Centre confidently made specific accusations, Chameera Perera said that he was commenting on the recent reportage of the Noyahr incident. Chameera Perera said that they studied various matters raised by the media and the investigation into abduction of Noyahr was one. Perera couldn’t cite police or any other official who had alleged the former Defence Secretary’s involvement on the basis of available information.

In his response to The Island query, Perera referred to the court ruling given respect of the Nov 2006 assassination of TNA Jaffna District MP Nadarajah Raviraj and his police bodyguard in Colombo. The Island stressed that the issue at hand was unsubstantiated accusations directed against the former Defence Secretary and the court ruling in respect of the MP’s assassination was irrelevant.

Unidentified persons seized Noyahr on May 22, 2008 near his Dehiwela residence when he was returning home after work. He was dropped off close to his residence, during the early morning of May 23, severely injured after being assaulted and tortured by the abductors. Noyahr left the country following the incident.

Chameera Perera said the police had made a significant breakthrough into the unresolved attack. Alleging that a spate of abductions and other atrocities committed during the previous administration hadn’t been probed, Perera warned of attempts to save Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. The NGO activist alleged that those who had been responsible for extra judicial actions during the war and post-war era should be brought before justice. The likes of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa couldn’t be shielded in the guise of protecting war heroes.

Perera alleged that the Rajapaksas were responsible for many crimes.

At the onset of the briefing, Chameera Perera claimed that soon after Noyahr’s abduction, the then CEO of The Nation had contacted Karu Jayasuriya and he in turn reached President Mahinda Rajapaksa and soon thereafter Noyahr was released. "We demand a thorough inquiry," Chameera Perera said, adding that the taking punitive action against those who had been responsible for violence was nothing but a great honor to the armed forces.

The civil society grouping vowed to closely follow the Noyahr case until justice was done. Those who -had exercised their franchise in support of Maithripala Sirisena expected the yahapalana government to go the whole hog now that a group of military personnel was in custody over the Noyahr attack.

Army headquarters recently announced five personnel, including an officer holding the rank of Major remanded in connection with the abduction had been interdicted pending –legal proceedings.

Chameera Perera alleged that a small section of the military had been responsible for the assassination of The Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickremetunga (January 2009), attempted assassination of Rivira Editor Upali Tennakoon (January 2009) and the disappearance of media personality Prageeth Ekneligoda (January 2010). Those responsible should be brought before courts, Perera said.

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