2 victims identified, DNA tests on three corpses while police interrogate suspects
Authorities are still working to identify three of the five persons found murdered in Koshenawatta, Dankotuwa on March 11. Accordingly, DNA tests on the remaining bodies will be conducted next week. Meanwhile, five suspects arrested by the Criminal Investigation Dept (CID) in connection with the alleged murders were produced before the Marawila Magistrate and District Judge on Friday, who remanded them until March 30. The CID also informed court that the investigation was not yet completed.
Negombo Hospital Judicial Medical Officer (JMO), Dr Rahul Haq told the Sunday Times that only two of the deceased were identified by family members at the postmortem held on Monday (14). Kapila Senarath Bandara was identified by his wife, while another individual known by the alias ‘Neina’ was identified by his relatives. ‘Neina’s’ body was handed over to his relatives for final rites. Kapila’s wife had however, refused to accept her husband’s body and will therefore, be buried at State expense.
“The mother and sister of two persons reported missing, had also come forward, but were unable to identify the bodies. Hence, the three bodies were handed over to the Government Analyst for DNA testing,” Dr. Haq said.
The JMO said the cause of death of all was blunt force trauma to the head. Two of the victims had also been stabbed afterwards, he further said.
Several police teams have been assigned to the case, which had gained wide media coverage by this time.
When the five charred were discovered inside a burnt out van on March 11, it was initially suspected that the murders may be linked to rivalry between underworld gangs that had left several people dead in the days prior to this incident.
The van was discovered along a secluded area of the road known as ‘Rata Mada Paara’ in the Koshenawatta area in Bujjampola, Dankotuwa.
A check on the van’s licence plate, WP PH 1080, led police to a finance company, to which a lady had rented out her vehicle. There, they were able to identify the van’s driver as Kapila Senarath Bandara (46) alias ‘Navy Kapila,’ alias ‘Seizure Kapila,’ a resident of Makandura, Pannala. According to his wife’s statement to police, he had called his daughter on the evening of March 10 and told her he was going out with some friends. He never returned.
‘Navy Kapila’ was known to the police. A former member of the armed forces, he had several court cases pending against him and had served time in prison.
Meanwhile, the discovery of what appeared to be blood spatter near the Makandura market premises, over 10 km from where the van was found, led investigators to the scene of the crime. It was initially suspected the victims were killed there before being taken to Koshenawatta, where the van was set alight.
One of the police teams had later received a tipoff that, on the evening of March 10, ‘Navy Kapila’ and several others were seen at a house of a businessman in Makandura. This businessman was subsequently taken into custody on suspicion and under interrogation, allegedly confessed to what occurred.
According to his alleged confession, Kapila and his gang had been engaged in extorting money from various businessmen in the area for some time. The suspect had claimed he was also a victim of this extortion racket.
The suspect had allegedly been paying Kapila off periodically with great difficulty, but had not been able to seek police assistance due to the fear Kapila is said to have exercised over people in the area.
On March 10, it is alleged that Kapila had phoned the businessman and demanded Rs 70,000. and that, he and some associates were coming that night to collect the money. At this point, the main suspect allegedly hatched a plan to murder them all. He had also enlisted the assistance of four other individuals to commit the crime.
Accordingly, he had got all five individuals completely drunk when they arrived to collect the money. Once the men had been rendered virtually incapacitated, the main suspect and the others had allegedly set upon the men and murdered them.
According to the suspects, they had ensured the music system inside the van was at full volume, so that no one would hear what was going on.
After the victims were all dead, the group had allegedly placed the bodies in the van and taken it to the deserted area in Makandura where the Sunday market is usually held. It is alleged that the suspect businessman had driven the van while his associates had followed on two motorbikes to provide ‘security.’
However, once they arrived at the location, the suspects had had second thoughts on account of fears that the police might be alerted. They then decided to transport the bodies to the secluded stretch of road along Rata Mada Paara and dispose of them by dousing the vehicle with petrol and setting it alight.
The CID is currently conducting further investigations into the incident.