JMOs dispel suspicion on Soma Thera's death
By Santhush Fernando

Funeral on Dec. 24
The cremation of Ven. Soma Thera will take place on December 24, (Wednesday) at Independence Square with full State patronage.

The funeral procession will start from Maharagama Dharmayathanaya on Wednesday at 1 p.m. and proceed along High Level Road to the Independence Square. The funeral pyre would be set alight at 6 p.m.

Amidst some tension, speculation and allegations, a panel of Sri Lanka's three top JMOs meeting together for the first time have reported after a post-mortem that the death of the Ven. Gangodawila Soma Thera was due to heart failure.
Acting on this report, Gampaha's Chief Magistrate Saman Wickramaarachchi has ruled that the death of the prelate was due to natural causes and there was no foul play.

A panel of specialists comprising Dr. Ananada Samarasekera, JMO of Ragama, Dr. Lilantha De Alwis, JMO of Colombo, Dr. S.M. Colombage, JMO of Kalubowila, assisted by Prof. Chandrasiri Niriella, Senior Professor in Forensic Medicine of the University of Ruhuna, and Dr. Vajira Senarathne , Cardiologist of Colombo National Hospital, conducted the post-mortem on Thursday at the Ragama hospital.

The JMO report was filed before the Gampaha Magistrate, Saman Wickramaarachchi after Negombo Magistrate M. M. Buran declined to take up the case. Dr. Ananda Samarasekera told The Sunday Times although the Magistrate had asked him to conduct the post mortem, he preferred to conduct it under a panel.

The panel had determined that the immediate cause of the death was due to Myocardial Infarction of the apical region of the left ventricle, subsequent to the blockage by a thrombus (blood clot) in the left descending coronary artery and a severe Arteriosclerosis and calcification of the artery. The report showed that the Thera had had an old fibrosis area in the left ventricular wall, indicating that he had a previous attack.

Although no evidence had been found to indicate any poisoning, all necessary autopsy samples had been preserved to be tested by the Government Analyst and for future reference, Dr. Samarasekera said. He said a detailed report of the post-mortem would be submitted to the courts by next month.

The Magistrate after giving his verdict on Friday, ruling out all suspicions of foul play, allowed the Maharagama Dharmayathanaya to take charge of the remains.
At the examining of evidence before Magistrate Wickramarachchi, the monk's brother Wiretungaarachchige Don Padmasiri and sister Wiretungaarachchige Don Srima said their brother had told them that he was being treated well and in perfect condition and, therefore, that his sudden death aroused suspicion.

Jinendrasinghe Walpita, testifying said he was assigned by Ambassador U.B. Wijekoon, to accompany the remains of the monk to Sri Lanka and hand them over to Ven. Thirikunamale Ananda Thera at the Katunayake International Airport.

Sarath Imbulmurage, Secretary of the Janawijaya Foundation told the inquest that Prof. Shanti Pushpakumara Jayasekera, brother of Janawijaya editor Sisira Jayasekera, was the rector of the International University of Fundamental Studies (IUFS) of St. Petersburg and it was the professor who arranged the Ven. Soma Thera to travel to Russia to confer on him a honorary doctorate for his book, Buddha Stupa.
He said the Thera had left Sri Lanka on October 10, and he came to know through Prof. Jayasekera that the Thera had been admitted to a hospital due to a sudden heart attack he suffered while flying. He said that the professor had called him to say the Thera was in need of bypass surgery and an Angiogram be performed before it and wanted Rs. 800,000 deposited into the account of the Thera.

Mr. Imbulmurage said he was informed that the health condition of the Thera who was residing in a fitness centre, was improving and he was fit for surgery. He submitted to the Magistrate a list of names on a letterhead of a fundamentalist religious group. The name of Ven. Soma Thera appeared in the list of prominent Buddhist personalities, which he claimed to be a hit list. Meanwhile, Katunayake OIC M. P. E. Jayaweera told The Sunday Times that although the inquest had been concluded beyond doubt that the death was caused due to natural causes, the Police would continue investigations and submit a report to the courts.

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