Disappearance of 11 youths Damning evidence links 7 Navy men

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By 2017-07-17

BY Cassendra Doole

The Police have unravelled damning evidence linking seven Navy personnel to the disappearance of 11 youths between the years 2008 and 2009.

An in-depth and lengthy investigation,...... into the disappearance of the individuals, by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) has revealed the involvement of several Navy personnel.

Former Deputy Director of Operations of the Sri Lanka Navy and former Navy Spokesperson, Commodore D.K.P. Dassanayake was placed in remand custody until 19 July, last Friday (14) over the disappearances.

Commodore D.K.P. Dassanayake, Lieutenant Commander Sampath Munasighe, Lieutenant Sampath Hettiarachchi and four other Navy personnel, suspected to be involved in this kidnapping racket have been taken into custody.

"It was after this arrest that the Sri Lanka Police decided to divulge as much information as possible, as long as it would not hinder the investigations or the Court proceedings," Police Media Spokesman SP Ruwan Gunasekara said. He added that valuable evidence that could be lead arrests with regard to the case had been acquired through recorded telephone conversations of 15 different phone numbers.

"On 28 May, 2009 Former Navy Commander Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda submitted a written complaint against his Chief Security Officer, Lieutenant Commander Sampath Munasighe," SP Gunasekara said.

Furthermore, he added that the complaint, which was made to the Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) stated that Munasinghe's cabin revealed four different NICs, a mobile phone, one passport belonging to one of the owners of the NICs, 450 live ammunition and promissory notes worth over Rs 10 lakhs.

The CID then commenced investigations in June 2009, and several Navy personnel, came forward with more information regarding this racket. Further investigations had revealed the involvement of Lieutenant Sampath Hettiarachchi.

"Cogent evidence in the form of civilian testimonies which involve testimonies from the friends and family of the kidnapped, testimonies from naval personnel who were against this practice, records taken from 15 mobile phones, tower triangulation data and telephone records have been collected," he said, adding "There has also been evidence that the vehicle belonging to one of the kidnapped individuals was also used after the number plates were changed to Navy number plates."

In an interesting turn of events, a mobile phone, that had been discovered, belonged to one Mike Hogan, a British National who was then in Sri Lanka to recruit one of the kidnapped to his team prior to his kidnapping. Investigations have uncovered that Hogan too was threatened and his mobile phone seized by the suspects. However, Police said that Hogan was able to identify his mobile phone amidst the mounting evidence.

"Both, Sampath Munasighe and Sampath Hettiarachchi operated under the commands of D.K.P. Dassanayake, and there is clear evidence against him," he said.

Furthermore, he stated that the reason for these kidnappings were for monetary gain.

While several places in Chaitya Road and Trincomalee were identified as the areas in which the victims were held, the current whereabouts of the victims are unknown. The CID is conducting further investigations.

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