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|Author:||RH [ Sun Apr 09, 2006 12:00 am ]|
|Post subject:||‘Vambotta’ killed|
@ The Island / DM
The notorious gangster Wambotta and an accomplice were shot dead on Sunday night at Aswatte in Kosgama while travelling in a Dolphin van from Seeduwa to Avissawella, police said.
They said two others who were in the van which was driven by Wambotta were injured while two other gangsters were arrested.
The dead gangsters were identified as Kitulgamaralalage Ajit Wasantha alias Wambotta and Sumeda Priyankara Saman of Suriyawewa.
Sabaraganmuwa DIG Neville Wijesinghe said that in December Wambotta had been arrested at Avissawella by the police while the gang leader was with his mistress.
The DIG said since his release after two months in jail, Wambotta was residing at Avissawella till he was ambushed and killed by another underworld gang on Sunday.
Police said they found 60 spent cartridges at the scene of the crime.
Tangalle District Crime Bureau sources said some time ago three of Wambotta’s sisters were allegedly raped, tortured and killed by a rival family. This had led to a series of revenge killings with more than 25 of the rival family members being killed and their property destroyed.
Police said the gang led by Wambotta was also wanted for ten other killings and some 20 cases of extortion the most recent being the incident at Hambantota where a mudalali was abducted.
Many of the underworld leaders, who were opposed to Vambotta now fear that they would be the target of revenge killings by what remains of his gang, while those who had no grouse against him fear that they could be targeted by other seeking to take complete control of the underworld now that the feared Vambotta is out of the way.
A member of the Vambotta’s gang who was seriously injured in the shooting was admitted to the Homagama Hospital.
Two other persons who were travelling with Vambotta were unhurt although the pursuers had used automatic rifles to riddle the underworld figure’s body with bullets, police said.
Vamb-otta who had started life selling vegetables in the Sooriya-wewa weekly fair had later joined the notorious gang of Ratnaweera who was a suspect in a large number of extortions, robberies and murders and remained with the gang for sometime but later left it to form his own gang, police said.
When Southern Provincial Councillor Chandimalli was killed by the Ratnaweera Gang in front of the CID headquarters, Colombo Ratnaweera was arrested as a suspect and was remanded.
Ratnaweera too was gunned down by the Vambotta gang who held up the prisons vehicle at Ridiyagama when he was being taken to courts by the prison officers. Ratnaweera and a prisons officer were killed.
Vambotta was remanded as a suspect in the case and it was only one and a half months ago that he had been released. On Sunday Vambotta with some others including the person who was seriously injured had come to Negombo and were returning to Sooriyawewa but had come to Kosgama police area when a van in which his assailants travelled had opened fire on Vambotta’s van killing him almost instantaneously, police said.
The gang rivalry between Vambotta and Ratanaweera had claimed the lives of a number of people before each gang leader also was gunned down by gang members police said.
August 14, 2004 - 13:39
Wambotta gang kills four at funeral house
An armed gang of twelve clad in military fatigues stormed a funeral house at Vithanrandeniya, Beliatte in the wee hours of yesterday, killed four family members of the deceased, pumped bullets into the coffin and disappeared into the darkness of night.
The victims were two brothers and two sisters of A. Dharmadasa, who was involved in the killing of Army Jine, the notorious criminal from the south, at the Matara General Hospital.
Dharmadasa was gunned down while in hiding, three days ago by the Wambotta gang, which Army Jine belonged to.
The Wambotta gang, the police say, was behind yesterday’s incident as well.
The victims were A. Wimalasena, A. Ajithpriya, A. Leelawathie and A. Chandrani. An aunt of Dharamdasa was also hospitalised with gunshot injuries.
The gang, eyewitnesses said had dragged the two brothers first and shot them dead. Then they had returned and taken the two sisters and shot them, too.
There had been only a few people in the house at that time.
A police team led by OIC Beliatte Pradeep Wettasinghe rushed to the scene but the gang had left.
Two daughters of the brother of the person now in remand prison over Army Jine’s killing were abducted and raped a few months ago by the Wambotta gang.
Two members of the Wambotta gang responsible for the rape were later abducted, tortured and killed. Their bodies were found with their genitals blasted.
The Wambotta gang, according to sources, consists of over 50 heavily armed military deserters as well as soldiers and enjoys political patronage, which makes it extremely difficult for the police to make any arrests.
The Beliatte police are conducting investigations into yesterday’s incident under the directions of DIG (Southern Range) D. W. Prathapasinghe, and SSP S. K. Sugathadasa.
Army-Suranga and Wambotta group
By Jaympathy Jayasinghe
@ SO / Sunday, 27 February 2005
Last week's court proceedings at the Embilipitiya Magistrate Courts began on a subdued note as usual with the Interpreter Mudaliar calling out the names of witnesses, accused and complainants gathered before court to testify.
The court house was packed to capacity and a busy atmosphere prevailed as usual. Several important cases were to be taken up that day and lawyers too were busy perusing their briefs to prepare for court battles.
Notorious criminals like Army-Suranga and other dangerous criminals from the break away Wambotta group were brought from far away prisons to testify before Embilipitiya magistrate. They were escorted to court premises by armed Prison officials and detained in a cell.
The remand prisoners and those who were already serving jail sentences were involved in other serious crimes like murder, robberies, rape, pillage etc. Security arrangements at the court premises were as usual with the presence of a few armed policemen and Prison officials.
But there wasn't any information received by police or Prison authorities that there was an impending attack on the court house. There weren't any ominous signs to foretell the impending attack.
There were no reasons whatsoever for police or Prison officials to panic and feel apprehensive about security arrangements.
No one ever imagined that a grenade would be lobbed at the remand cell to seek the release of Wambotta's henchmen or to destroy his enemies like Army-Suranga and his henchmen, the break away group. But the least expected happened while the court proceedings were on.
The time was around 11.10.a.m. when someone hurled a hand grenade at the remand cell. A Prison officer along with three persons died instantaneously while 36 persons were injured. Several ducked for cover under tables and there was total pandemonium and chaos in the court house.
Meanwhile Army-Suranga and 24 other hardcore criminals broke the remand cell and escaped for good. Who could have thrown a grenade at the remand cell amid tight security and from where did the hand grenade come from? These are some of the questions that the CID sleuths are investigating.
Following the jail break, a countrywide man hunt for the arrest of hardcore criminals was launched by IGP Chandra Fernando. A team of CID officers were despatched on the following day from Colombo to hunt down and arrest dangerous criminals who were at large.
Meanwhile on receipt of information that the jail breakers were seen roaming about in a car in the Sevenagala area, DIG, Uva Range, S.K. Shankar, was galvanised into action. He promptly ordered Inspector Kalansiri, OIC Uva Vice, Crime and Operations division to arrest the hard core criminals. Inspector Kalansiri. SI Herath, Sergeant Palitha and party lost no time and proceeded to Uda Walave - Sevenagala border by car on the subsequent day.
They were tipped off by an informant that Sujith Wasantha Kumarasinghe alias Army Suranga, A. Gamage Sarath Bandu and Marappulige Ruwan Pushpakumara, all army deserters and hardcore criminals that operated with the dreaded Wambotta's gang were seen going about in a Nissan car. They were wanted in connection with several contract killings, robberies and looting cases rape etc.
Having arrived at the Uda Walave border the police party alighted from their vehicle and trudged along a jungle path for nearly two kilo meters until they arrived near a cemetery.
The three fugitives who were unarmed were confronted by Inspector Kalansiri, SI Herath and the police party around 1.30. P.M. near the cemetery. When challenged by the police the fugitives gave up without a fight. They even begged for mercy and pleaded with the police not to be harmed.
Later Army Suranga had told Inspector Kalansiri that the grenade was lobbed by Wambottas gang to liquidate him and his colleagues in the cell. But subsequent investigations by Inspector Kalansiri had revealed that Wambottas gang had lobbed the hand grenade to get remand prisoner Nalin Suranga released so that he can assassinate one Abyenayake. Police found the pin of the hand grenade in the court premises.
The three criminals were later handed over to the Wellawaya Police Station and the CID sleuths are investigating them. Meanwhile the Commissioner General of Prisons Rummy Marzook is conducting a separate investigation about the incident.
A police statement was recorded from Wambotta at the Crimes Division Western Province (North) in Peliyagoda on January 6, 2005 at 10.30 a.m. following his arrest by Peliyagoda Police.
After being detained he was subjected to intense interrogation after which ASP Priyantha Jayakody had instructed WPC 4344 Hemamali to type out the suspect's statement.
According to ASP Jayakody the reason why the statement was recorded was because of the incidents of murder, robbery and extortion that had taken place in the southern region in the recent past for which Wambotta is a prime suspect and wanted man.
Wambotta was born in Embilipitiya. His father was a vegetable vendor. He says that when he did not go to school the teacher would ask the other children in the class why he was absent and a girl named Ajantha once replied that "Wambotta" was selling vegetables at the pola. From that day, he says everyone called him Wambotta.
In 1993, he joined the army, enlisting as a member of the 3rd Sinha Regiment. He says he trained for two and a half months at an army camp in Nuwara Eliya where he was taught to use a weapon. He then ran away and returned to the vegetable selling business. In 1994, he married Sriyani Jayamanne.
After marriage he says he began to bring mung beans from Sooriyawewa in lorries, which he sold in Colombo. Hidden among the mung beans he claims to have smuggled marijuana which he handed over to a woman near Manning Market at Wellawatte.
He says while he earned a lot of money from those sales he finally got caught in Hambantota, for which a case is still being heard and there was a warrant issued for his arrest.
He however came out on bail and continued his mung bean business from which monies he bought a van which he put out on hire to operate near the Galadari Hotel. After a while he says he bought a new sports car. He took this car to the village where he proudly drove it around. But, he says in his statement that he was then summoned by Arthur Rathnaweera who lived in Sooriyawewa and told that nobody could be allowed to drive a better car than what the Rathnaweeras owned and he was ordered to sell it.
Wambotta claims he did not do so after which he was again summoned to the Rathnaweera house. When he went there he says "two big black boys took me to a dark room and tied my hands. Arthur Rathnaweera put a 9mm pistol to my head and said, no one has tried to go above us. You didn't do as we asked. If you don't sell the car we will shoot you like a dog and kill you." Then Wambotta claims Arthur Rathnaweera took a steel lid nearby heated it on a gas cooker and burnt his left leg with it.
"I decided then and there that I would kill him someday," he says in his statement, adding as far as he can remember this incident took place in 1999 or 2000. "I hid in the jungles for sometime. Neighbours brought me food while I remained in the jungle in hiding," he says.
One day, he recounts how he took a knife and went to the Rathnaweeras' shop where he stabbed Arthur Rathnaweera two or three times. But while he was stabbing him he says the knife bent in two and he threw it away and ran back into the jungle to hide.
Thereafter he says he met a person who worked in the Sri Lanka Air Force who he approached to get him a weapon. By this time he states the Rathnaweeras in their failed attempt to find him had shot dead his sister Leelawathi's husband, Wimalasena.
Wambotta says, "My need for revenge grew after that. Once again I told the person who worked at the Ratmalana air base to find me a weapon as soon as possible. He was about 30 years old and about six feet tall. He had been shot in the left eye and was partially blind. One day when I met him he told me that if I gave him Rs. 80,000 he would give me the weapon."
Wambotta claims he then called someone in his village and got down the money. Questioned on how he got the money to pay for the weapon he states that his elder brother Saman sold his tractor and gave him the cash.
He asserts that he then went to the air force camp in Ratmalana and paid for a T-81 weapon. He claims he stuffed the weapon into his shirt, ran along the roads, jumped into a threewheeler and went all the way to Moratuwa using by lanes. He then says he got onto a night bus to Kataragama and went to Sooriyawewa.
"I realised this was a weapon used by air force personnel. I bought it to kill the Rathnaweera brothers. I went to the jungle and hid with my weapon. I hid like that and then one day I shot the Rathnaweeras' third brother in front of the Sooriyawewa garment factory. Although I searched for the other Rathnaweeras after that, I could not find them."
It is at this stage Wambotta says, " I hid out at Southern Provincial Councillor Chandi's house. I helped him and also Mahinda Rajapakse who I met through him, on their election work."
'Rathnaweeras got Chandi"
Chandi Malli was subsequently murdered outside the offices of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) at York Street, Fort. According to Wambotta he claims it was the Rathnaweeras who got Chandi Malli killed.
Recalling the murder of Chandi Malli he says, "during this time I was in Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse's house. I gave my T-81 weapon to Suranga. Army Suranga was a person from our village. I gave the weapon to him for safekeeping. But then because he was robbing and using my name to do it, I moved away from him. I took the T-81 from Suranga and gave it to Sudu Malli in Mahaweli. But Army Suranga had gone to Sudu Malli and told him that I wanted the weapon and taken it from him. Army Suranga has now been caught stealing and is in remand."
The more contentious part of this statement then emerges in the last two pages. According to the statement in our possession questions have been raised by police on why and how Wambotta had phone numbers of both police officers and politicians, including that of the Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament.
Wambotta allegedly responds that he kept the phone number of Temple Trees to contact the Prime Minister if the need arose. A phone number, which is not one for Temple Trees but for a telephone at Visumpaya.
In relation to Speaker W. J. M. Lokubandara, Wambotta's statement states, "I do not recall how I got this number. I have never met or spoken to the Speaker." For Lokubandara, Wambotta's diary carries contact number 0112777383.
Lokubandara's number in Parliament is 0112777222. This number, 0112777383 is for the library in parliament.
Another entry is for the OIC Colpetty, Siriwardena, 0773060125. Wambotta's statement says, "This number was given to me by a former police officer attached to the Presidential Security Division." The OIC for Colpetty answered on this number when we called.
For Sobitha Thero - 0777594570. "This number was given to me by the lady at Chandima Traders in Embilipitiya." He states, "I spoke to the Thero and asked him for a pirith noola which I later wore."
And for Justice Minister John Seneviratne, - 0452274140. "The number was given to me by Mr. Shashikala. So that I could call if it was ever necessary. But I have never met or spoken to him," the statement says. The telephone number for Minister John Seneviratne at his electorate in Ratnapura is 0452274142
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