SLPP Parliamentary Group flays police
Asimmering controversy over the recent releasing of Riyaj Bathiudeen, arrested over his alleged involvement with those responsible for 2019 Easter Sunday carnage, has taken an unexpected turn with Attorney General Dappula de Livera PC summoning Deputy inspector General in charge of the CID S.P. Ranasinghe and its Chief Investigative Officer.
Ranasinghe took over the CID after the government removed DIG Nuwan Wedisinghe, who had been the senior officer in charge at the time Riyaj arrested five months ago under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) was released. Wedisinghe thereupon received appointment as the Acting DIG Western Province (North).
The AG took that decision after more than hundred ruling party members of parliament, including ministers, in a letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa demanded a thorough inquiry and Riyaj Bathiudeen be re-arrested.
Wedisinghe received appointment as DIG, CID in late Dec 2019 following the presidential election.
Among those who had signed the petition demanding the re-arrest of Riyaj Bathiudeen, a brother of Samagi Jana Balavegaya MP and the leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) Rishad Bathiudeen were many ministers. Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage has signed the petition first.
AG’s Coordinating Officer State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne told The Island that the DIG in charge of the CID now along with the Chief Investigative Officer were asked to bring what she called all investigative material relating to the Riyaj Bathiudeen case.
There hadn’t been a previous case of the CID being summoned by the AG over releasing of suspects taken under the PTA.
The government parliamentary group, in its letter dated Oct 9, pointed out to the President and the PM that Riyaj Bathiudeen arrested on April 14 had been set free on Sept 30 even without him ever being produced before a court. The SLPP group emphasized that the Police Spokesman attorney-at-law SSP Jaliya Senaratne revealed at a media briefing that Riyaj had been to a hotel with one of the Easter Sunday bombers in addition to having direct links with another suicide bomber. The SLPP group further pointed out that no less a person than former Army Commander Lt. Gen. Mahesh Senanayake told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) on Oct 8 how Riyaj facilitated Easter Sunday mastermind Zahran Hashim fleeing to India in 2018 by sea. Police headquarters also removed SSP Senaratne.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in a statement issued recently denied any deal with Rishad Bathiudeen in the wake of Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo strongly protesting the suspect’s release. The Cardinal called a media briefing close on the heels of Internal Security Minister Chamal Rajapaksa shaking hands with Bathiudeen in Vavuniya.
In addition to investigations conducted regarding Riyaj Bathiudeen’s alleged involvement, the CID also recorded Rishad Bathiudeen’s statement regarding favours granted to a copper factory at Wellampitiya owned by one of the suicide bombers, 36-year-old Inshaf Ahamed, who carried out the attack on
Cinnamon Grand Hotel. Former police spokesman Senaratne is on record as having said that part of the profits of the company had been used to fund the Easter Sunday attacks. Inshaf Ahamed’s elder brother, Illham Ibrahim, 38 carried out attacks on Shangri-La along with Zahran Hashim. Their father, spice tycoon Y.M. Ibrahim, who had been on the JVP National List at the 2015 parliamentary election, was taken into custody just hours after the Easter attacks from his palatial Dematagoda house where his daughter-in-law triggered multiple blasts causing several deaths, including police officers.
Sources said that the SLPP parliamentary group wrote to the President amidst intense speculation of an influential section of the government seeking an understanding with Bathiudeen’s party to enable them to vote for the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution. The ACMC secured four seats on the SJB ticket. Baithiudeen first entered parliament in 2001 on the UNP ticket and re-elected on the same ticket in 2004. He was an SLMC nominee. After the UNP’s defeat at the general election in April 2004, Bathiudeen switched allegiance to the UPFA. ACMC contested the 2010 general election on the UPFA ticket. Bathiudeen switched allegiance to the UNP at the 2015 presidential election and contested on the UNP ticket at the 2015 general election. At the last election, he contested on the SJB ticket.