By Nirmala Kannangara in Negombo
Photos by Asoka Fernando
Negombo, the once peaceful ‘little Rome’ is now plagued by political thuggery with police patronage. The people allege that the Negombo police is now a ‘puppet’ in the hands of ruling party politicians.
They query as to why there is a police station in Negombo if the police are there only to give protection to political thugs and stooges but not to the general public.
The closest example is reported from Kattuwa a few miles away from the Negombo town. It is claimed that the Negombo police have failed to take the weapon used in a murder into custody since the alleged murderer is a Municipal Councilor.
“When I asked the police whether the sword that was used to kill my husband was taken into custody, I was told that they (the police) do not have authority to take that weapon since the suspect surrendered to police. According to the police in the event a suspected murderer surrenders to the police the weapon/s he used for the crime cannot be taken in to custody,” the grieving wife of late Ruwan Dilsiri Fernando told The Sunday Leader.
It is alleged that Ruwan was stabbed to death by Negombo Municipal Councilor Mark Sujith Fernando on June 10 in Kattuwa. However why the police failed to take the sword into police custody remains a question.
“The sword would have been the best evidence to prove that the killer was Mark Sujith. Had the police taken the weapon into custody the investigation team would have easily taken his finger prints which would have been the main evidence in the murder. The reason why the Negombo police did not take the killer weapon into custody was to prevent further investigations being held against Mark Sujith,” a leading criminal lawyer on condition of anonymity told The Sunday Leader.
Meanwhile reliable sources told The Sunday Leader that the Negombo police had taken the statement made by Malkanthi – wife of the deceased, to Western Provincial Council Minister of Road Development, Power and Energy, Housing and Constructions, Fisheries and Tourism Minister Nimal Lanza’s residence in Negombo in order to get a counter statement written in favour of the suspect, Mark Sujith.
Mark Sujith Fernando is married to Ramona Lanza a cousin sister of Minister Nimal Lanza and the Negombo Mayoral Candidate Dayan Lanza.
“How could the police take the Grave Crime Information Book (GCIB) to a politician’s house? They do not have provisions to take these complaint books out of the police station. In addition to which, the police cannot show the statement given by one person to another party. This clearly shows that the Negombo police are trying to get the suspected local politician a bail out,” said the criminal lawyer.
Malkanthi who is a teacher at the Kattuwa Francis Sallies Junior School, had to face the darkest moment in her life on June 10, when her husband Ruwan was stabbed to death in front of her and she is yet to come to terms of his loss.
According to Malkanthi, around 6.30pm on Friday June 10, she heard a loud noise from the adjoining restaurant. Realizing that there was a fight going on, Malkanthi had informed her husband who was away from home.
“When I told Ruwan about the fight, he came home immediately and went up to the gate to see what was going on. Seeing Mark Sujith who was his classmate, my husband had asked him what was going on. That question must have angered Sujith because he then shouted at my husband. After which Ruwan was stabbed in front of my eyes,” said Malkanthi.
Malkanthi added that she had later learned that the gang which accompanied Mark Sujith had hit her husband on his head with wooden cricket stumps before he was stabbed. “Before Ruwan was stabbed, he fell on to the ground. I now believe that the fall was due to the severe blows he received on his head,” said Malkanthi.
“The doctors told me that my husband’s life would have been saved if he was brought 15 minutes earlier. Mark Sujith did not allow me to take my husband for well over 45 minutes,” said Malkanthi.
According to Malkanthi’s teenage son (name withheld) he had seen Mark Sujith raise the sword to stab his father. “When my father fell to the ground near our gate, Mark Sujith came from behind and stabbed my father,” he said.
“I saw a thug trying to throttle my father pushing him against the parapet wall. When I shouted my mother came running and pulled my father aside. However all our attempts to save thattha were unsuccessful,” said the son. “When I ran to call my uncle for assistance Mark Sujith and his gang prevented me from going to my uncle. All of them had cricket stumps and swords in their hands and they threatened me,” he said.
After the murder, “Somebody came and asked me whether to cover the blood stains near the doorstep and the gate. I asked him only to cover the blood stains nears the gate but not the stains near the house. But it was too late when I was informed that blood stains near my house too had been covered with granite chips. I was also told that granite chips had been brought in a municipal council vehicle. Was this done on purpose to hide any evidence?” queried Malkanthi.
She also said, “When my husband’s lifeless body was lying in our living room two friends of Dayan Lanza – Mark and Basil came and tried to offer Rs.5 million to me in order to come to a settlement. When I refused, Ramona Lanza came home after the funeral and asked me how much I wanted to arrive at a settlement. I did not agree to that either.”