Basnayake Nilame of Galgamuwa temple arrested

Double-murder at Kotte Raja maha viharaya:



By Hemantha Randunu and Franklin R. Satyapalan


Members of the National Sangha Council (NSC) walked in protest to the Indian High Commission yesterday, to hand over a petition against India’s decision to back the US resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC. President of NSC Rajawatte Thera and the Bikkhus who accompanied him are seen in front of the Indian High Commission. (Pic by Sujatha Jayasekera)

Police investigating Tuesday’s double-murder at the Kotte Rajamahaviharaya have arrested the Basnayake Nilame of a temple in the Galigamuwa police area.


The Maharagama police arrested the suspect in the early hours of yesterday. A senior police official told The Island that the suspect, under interrogation, had admitted his involvement in the killing of Ven. Pitigala Jinasiri thera (81) and Ven. Boralesgamuwe Gunaratne (61) at 10.00 p.m. Tuesday night.


Investigators said that the identity of the other person allegedly involved in the killings was known. They identified the wanted person as a former Buddhist monk now living in the Embilipitiya police area.


Asked whether the police had been able to establish a motive, sources said that a dispute over a land at Embilipitiya led to the killings. Subsequently, the suspect had claimed that he was looking for a sword made of gold studded with gems. According to him, the two monks had to be killed as they identified him as he was searching for the sword.


The police identified the suspect as 26-year-old employee of an insurance firm serving a temple at Palugolla, Galgamuwa as Basnayake Nilame.


The suspect admitted that he knew both monks as he frequently visited the temple.


The police said that the two suspects had entered the temple at about 10.00 p.m. separately and the person now in custody had even asked for a glass of water from Ven. Gunaratne. While they had been talking, the former monk had knifed Ven. Jinasiri, who was in the toilet. Hearing Ven. Jinasiri’s cries, Ven. Gunaratne had tried to rush towards the toilet only to be grabbed by the Basnayake Nilame before his associate knifed him.


The police said that Ven. Jinasiri had succumbed to his injuries in the toilet, while the other died on his way to Kalubowila hospital.


The police were quick to track down the Basnayake Nilame, who had planned the raid on the temple, thanks to a resident who took down the number of the suspect’s vehicle.


According to the police, both suspects had fled the scene in the same vehicle, though the accomplice got down at Boralesgamuwa. The police had established the identity of the owner of the vehicle with the help of the Motor Traffic Department leading to a raid in the early hours of yesterday. "When we surrounded the suspect’s house, he was fast asleep. He denied any knowledge of the crime, though under interrogation he revealed how they planned the raid."


The police said that the suspect was planning to leave for Ampara to meet his fiancé in the morning. The police also recovered the getaway vehicle.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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