Bharatha killing: Suspects obtained Indian visa weeks before shootout

Two persons arrested and deported from India for their alleged involvement in the assassination of former PA MP Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra on Oct. 8, had obtained visas from the Indian High Commission several weeks before the shootout.

Authoritative sources told The Island that one suspect had obtained visa on Sept. 21, 2011 and the other on Aug. 23, 2011 for a period of six months.

India handed over the suspects to Sri Lanka on Oct. 13 following a request from Colombo. They are among eight associates of UPFA MP R. Duminda Silva. They are being held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in connection with the inquiry.

Colombo additional Magistrate Prasanna de Alwis on Tuesday remanded MP Silva’s bodyguard Anura Thushara de Mel till Nov. 1 pending an identification parade.

Responding to allegations that the suspects had obtained Indian visa within two hours following the shootout, sources said that India handed over the two passports along with the suspects to Sri Lankan authorities. The allegation was made by Bharatha’s siblings at a media briefing held at Hotel Renuka on Tuesday (18). They cited the alleged Indian link to accuse the government of a conspiracy targeting Premachandra.

The allegation was made in the wake of Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara’s claim of a conspiracy against Premachandra. The allegation prompted the CID to record a statement from the veteran politician.

Asked whether any of Premachandra’s loyalists had been held in connection with the inquiry, sources said that those in custody were connected to MP Silva. The investigators would have to establish the identity of the person, who shot MP Silva during the confrontation.

Contrary to reports, Premachandra hadn’t been shot with a T-56 assault rifle, sources said. At the time of the incident, Premachandra’s police bodyguard had carried a T-56, sources said, emphasizing the importance of establishing the circumstances leading to the shootout. The MP had been shot at point blank range, sources said.

Investigators have so far recovered two T-56 assault rifles, three 3.8 revolvers and 10 pistols belonging to those involved in the shooting.


Courtesy: The Island