Sept 7 (DailyMirror) – UK’s controversial documentary maker Channel 4 Dispatches film circulating on the Easter bombings of Sri Lanka has surfaced with fresh allegations into the assassination of Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, as it was allegedly performed on the direction of former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Sri Lankan whistleblower Hanzeer Azad Maulana in his interview to the Channel 4 Dispatches programme on shocking revelations of the Easter attack in 2019, talks about the assassination of Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge was orchestrated.
Maulana, who claims himself to be the former Media Spokesperson of Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) and its leader Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan, makes the revelations after fleeing the country in 2022 over fears for his life.
At one point in the film Maulana describes how former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa during his tenure as the Secretary Defence in 2008 Mahinda Rajapaksa government allegedly orders to kill newspaper editor Lasantha Wickrematunge.
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According to Maulana, Gotabaya Rajapaksa once during a meeting with the former and his boss Pillayan allegedly asked to help him form a paramilitary death squad called the ‘Tripoli Platoon’.
“He (Gotabaya) allegedly told Pillayan to select his best team and put them to work together. So Pillayan selected his best men and formed the Tripoli Platoon. The group then selected people who were against the government. They then targeted such people and killed them,” Maulana alleged.
Maulana alleges in the film that Lasantha’s continuous criticism on the Rajapaksa regime and especially his exposing article on the infamous military jet MiG Deal left Gotabaya enraged. And had summoned him and Pillayan to a meeting where he had said that he allegedly wanted Lasantha dead.
“He said this ‘Balla’ (dog) is always playing with me. He said Lasantha should be killed. If you can do it immediately. As soon as possible,” Maulana alleges in his interview.
Also, giving evidence about the Lasantha’s assassination case in the film was exiled CID officer Nishantha Silva, who has sought political refuge in a foreign country. Nishantha Silva who had been entrusted with a fresh probe into Lasantha’s case soon after the Yahapalana Government came into power says in the film that his findings in the probe led him to the Tripoli Platoon.
Nishantha Silva says he found telephones belonging to five Tripoli Platoon members connected to the Lasantha’s killing and the telephone records with call site analysis matched with the location where Lasantha was killed.
“Gotabaya Rajapaksa allegedly had a direct involvement with the Tripoli Platoon according to my findings. And when I summoned him to the CID after naming him a suspect in the Lasantha killing, he was not too happy to hear about it,” Nishantha Silva alleged in the interview.