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 Post subject: Moratu Saman shot dead
 Post Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 1:54 am 
Moratu Saman - killed before spilling the beans

Sri Lanka's regular brutal killings are no longer even a topic for debate. The killers are rarely caught while the police attribute almost every gruesome murder to that of the 'underworld' - a vague term referring to contract killers who remain at large - as did Moratu Saman until he fell victim to a member, probably from his own clan.

By: Frederica Jansz
Source: Sunday Leader - May 31, 2003

Gunned down by an unknown assailant, Moratu Saman had only weeks before his death, confided to a leading criminal lawyer and a lawyer not allowed politician that his life was in danger as a result of him having carried out numerous assassinations on behalf of leading politicians in the People's Alliance.

Sri Lanka's regular brutal killings are no longer even a topic for debate. The killers are rarely caught while the police attribute almost every gruesome murder to that of the 'underworld' - a vague term referring to contract killers who remain at large - as did Moratu Saman until he fell victim to a member, probably from his own clan.

One month ago, Gajan Ponnambalam, member of parliament and son of the slain Kumar Ponnambalam received a telephone call from Moratu Saman. The underworld thug did not speak directly to Ponnambalam but conveyed his wish to meet with Ponnambalam through a third party.

The go between, an individual for whom well known criminal lawyer Daya Perera and Ponnambalam had appeared, had telephoned Gajan Ponnambalam around 8.30 p.m. He told Gajan that Moratu Saman was standing by his side and wanted to come out with the whole story regarding his father Kumar Ponnambalam's murder. The gangster had however insisted he needed legal assistance before he could make his confession.

Gajan had asked who ordered the contract killer to assassinate his father? Moratu Saman had replied that the orders came from "the very high in the previous government." Ponnambalam had then asked, "Why do you now want to come out with the story - three years after my father was killed - what stopped you three years ago?"

Listening as the underworld killer spoke in the background, Gajan heard him respond saying he had strong assurances from those in the PA that he would be well looked after and guarded. He had said however that nothing had been done and he had information that those responsible for "hit jobs" in the previous government, were planning to get rid of him and all others who had carried out various contract killings for fear of details being divulged. Moratu Saman had then told Gajan "my life is now in real danger..I am certain I will also be killed."

Ready to tell story

The third party who kept up the three way telephone conversation had then asked Gajan to speak directly with the killer. Ponnambalam however had refused saying, "I cannot. He killed my father. If he wants to come clean tell him to get in touch with Daya Perera who is looking after this case on behalf of the family."

Ponnambalam subsequently briefed President's Counsel Daya Perera of his conversation and told him to expect a call from Moratu Saman.

Moratu Saman had thereafter telephoned Perera and spoken directly with the renowned criminal lawyer. Identifying himself, he told Perera that he wanted to come out with the whole story surrounding Kumar Ponnambalam's brutal killing. He however asked Perera if the lawyer would represent him.

Perera refused saying, "I cannot appear for you - you killed my friend." He however told the killer, "If you tell me exactly who ordered the killing and how it was done, I am prepared to represent you in your other cases."

Perera then asked him if Anuruddha Ratwatte or any member of the Ratwatte family had ordered the killing. The gangster had replied the question but not divulged the details.

Moratu Saman had then told Perera, "I will come and meet with you and tell you the whole story." - Daya Perera agreed. The meeting however never took place and three weeks later, on Sunday, May 18, Moratu Saman was shot dead in Panadura as he drove home.

Three months ago, an attempt was made on Moratu Saman's life in Malabe. His killers however missed and Moratu Saman was only injured in the shooting.

Highly placed police sources revealed that all evidence points to Moratu Saman being a victim of another contract killer. He knew too much and was too big a threat for various politicos who learned on the grapevine that Moratu Saman was beginning to talk about some of his exploits.

No CID investigation

His killing has been relegated to just another murder. The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) has received no instructions to find Moratu Saman's killers - instead a routine police investigation into the murder is now underway.

Previously, The Sunday Leader exposed stunning details of a taped conversation between two policemen regarding the murder of Kumar Ponnambalam. Police officer Sugath alias Shantha Ranasinghe, in this conversation spoke with OIC Nuwan Wedasinghe of the former Criminal Detection Bureau (CDB) and right hand-man to SSP Bandula Wickremasinghe, former Director (CDB).

The tape implicates a Ratwatte. In it Sugath Ranasinghe, a Reserve police officer is speaking with OIC Wedasinghe who initiated the telephone conversation on behalf of SSP Bandula Wickremasinghe.

Before this tape came into the possession of The Sunday Leader, Bandula Wickremasinghe in a sworn affidavit to the CID and Interior Minister John Amaratunga alleged that Mahen Ratwatte, son of General Anuruddha Ratwatte was involved in the murder of Kumar Ponnambalam. As a result of this affidavit being published by this newspaper, Mahen Ratwatte's lawyer, Mahendra Dias, on January 31, 2002 wrote to The Sunday Leader denying his client's involvement in this case.

Sugath Ranasinghe was the number one suspect in the assassination of Kumar Ponnambalam. In his conversation with Wedasinghe, Ranasinghe says he was let down by the cops he trusted who promised to save him by promoting him as a state witness in this crime.

Two days before Mahen Ratwatte got his lawyer to write on his behalf to The Sunday Leader, Ranasinghe in a sworn affidavit attempted to remove all blame from Mahen Ratwatte and went so far as to say that SSP Bandula Wickremasinghe "is trying to sling mud on Mahen Ratwatte for political gain."

The fact that Mahen Ratwatte got his lawyer to write to us professing his innocence in the murder of Kumar Ponnambalam, with an attached copy of Sugath Ranasinghe's affidavit also proclaiming Mahen Ratwatte's non involvement in this crime, only further implicates Mahen Ratwatte's connection to the key suspect in this murder. The taped conversation between Ranasinghe and Wedasinghe reached The Sunday Leader subsequently.

The investigation by the CID into the assassination of Kumar Ponnambalam found that President Chandrika Kumaratunga deliberately suppressed an official police report which had stated that Mahen Ratwatte, son of former Deputy Defence Minister, Anuruddha Ratwatte was involved in master-minding the murder.

The statements of former Director, Criminal Detection Bureau, SSP Bandula Wickremasinghe and his Officer in Charge, Nuwan Wedasinghe were recorded by the CID in connection with this killing. In his statement to the sleuths, Wickremasinghe reiterated that he handed over a detailed report on Ponnambalam's killing to Kumaratunga at her request, citing the involvement of Mahen Ratwatte, but that the President did nothing about the facts it held.

Planned the murder

Wickremasinghe has in the signed affidavit stated that his investigation into the murder found evidence which proved that Mahen Ratwatte was involved in planning the crime.

OIC Nuwan Wedasinghe has also said in his statement to police that a taped telephone conversation he had with one of the suspects, Police Constable Sugath Ranasinghe alias Shantha revealed that Mahen Ratwatte had indeed planned the killing.

The taped dialogue in one instance has recorded Ranasinghe telling Wedasinghe that soon after the killing, the murderers reported to "... Ratwatte."

Ranasinghe admits to having lured Ponnambalam out of his home at Queens Road in Colombo 3 to Ramakrishna Road at Colombo 6, where he was shot dead at point blank range.

Wedasinghe also told police that he is aware of the official report compiled by SSP Bandula Wickremasinghe and handed over to Kumaratunga. This report clearly states that a subsequent police investigation into the murder of Ponnambalam seriously implicates Mahen Ratwatte as an accomplice. Investigations also revealed that the son of another VIP of the previous regime had also been in contact with the killers over this incident.

The CID later recorded a statement from Mahen Ratwatte as well,and the file was referred to the Attorney General for advice. The AG has now responded stating that since the removal of the criminal defamation law, Bandula Wickremesinghe cannot be prosecuted for defaming the President.

Insufficient evidence

The AG has also said that there is insufficient evidence to institute charges for the murder against Mahen Ratwatte. The sole evidence that is available is Sugath Ranasinghe's taped telephone conversation, which cannot be used for prosecution as he remains an accused.

What may have turned this case around would have been Moratu Saman's confession. This however has now been permanently laid to rest.

IGP, T. E. Anandarajah is now considering if Wickramesinghe by providing an affidavit is guilty of committing 'departmental lapses' and should thus face a disciplinary inquiry.

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