Sailors run amok in Wattala
Assault restaurant customers and staff


By Franklin R.Satyapalan


Police are probing a pre-dawn attack on a the Lite House Hotel restaurant, at Mabola in Wattala, by an armed group alleged to be Naval personnel attached to the Gemunu Camp at Welisara, Police said yesterday.

This was the second attack on this popular restaurant within the past one month.

In Tuesday’s (27) attack, around six to seven persons, wielding steel pipes had arrived at the restaurant, in a grey and white flat roofed Dolphin Van at around 2.55 a.m. and commenced smashing all the show cases before making their escape towards Welisara, Police said. The damage caused in the attack was estimated at over Rs. 350,000.

An employee of the restaurant, who followed behind the getaway van, observed the occupants alight from it close to the camp, remove their wigs and the paper which concealed the number plate, before entering the Welisara Naval Base at around 3.20 a.m.

In the earlier incident which took place in the wee hours of June 30, at around 1.30 a.m. six to seven persons, who under the influence of liquor, claiming to be Navy ruggerites turned aggressive and unruly following a waiter’s refusing them permission to consume liquor inside the restaurant. The Navy men attacked the customers and staff present.

It was proved beyond doubt that the culprits, who assaulted all present at the restaurant before fleeing the scene threatening revenge, were navy ruggerites.

A few minutes later, around 3.00 a.m. persons in Naval uniform arrived at the restaurant and ran amok, assaulting all the employees who were there. They also all the smashed the showcases, crockery and glassware. As the restaurant was open round the clock, food valued at close to hundred thousand rupees was strewn with shards of glass.

Senior Naval Officers at the Gemunu Naval Camp at Welisara, as well as rugger players, from other Rugby playing clubs and Referees who wished to remain anonymous, for obvious reasons, complained that some of these contracted rugby players were the most undisciplined, unruly and threw their weight around at all times on and off the field.

Director CID N. K. D. W. Amerasinghe said yesterday that the Finance Division of the CID had not been involved in investigations but in a fact finding inquiry over the earlier incident to ascertain the motive for the attack.

The SSP said that investigations had revealed that this was not a pre-organized attack but an argument had led to assault on persons and the destruction of the restaurant. He said a report has been submitted to the IGP in this connection.

The OIC of the Wattala Police Station CI Nimal Ratnayake said yesterday that the incident was being inquired into and he could not reveal any details at the moment. On both occasions the incidents has been brought to the notice of the Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Sisira Samarasinghe. Despite his assurance that there would not be a repeat after the first complaint was made to him, his men werew involved in Tuesday’s attack.

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