President wants probe report on Danny Hittetiyage killing

By Asif Fuard

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has ordered the police to submit a report on the investigation into the killing of Southern Development Board Chairman Danny Hittetiyage at Makandura junction in Matara last Sunday by two unidentified gunmen.

The police investigation has revealed that Mr. Hittetiyage had faced several political threats in the past as he had been a former minister in the Southern Province as well as a close confidant of President Rajapaksa.Initial investigations have revealed that the assassination was carried out due to a long standing dispute between him and a local underworld kingpin over a 100 acre block of land. The land located in Kamburupitiya, Matara was said to have been abandoned for several years resulting in around seventy families in the area encroaching on the land and putting up huts.

When the owners of the land who are presently residing abroad came to know of this they had contacted Mr. Hittetiyage and said they wished to donate the land for any project of the Southern Development Authority.

One family which had encroached on the land was that of underworld kingpin Madushantha who was in prison for possessing illegal firearms and charged with the killing of Mr. Hittetiyage’s brother-in-law who was also gunned down due to a land dispute

Madushantha was arrested last year with five others by the Peliyagoda police after he had committed the robbery of a private company in Colombo.

Police sources said they believed Madushantha was under the impression that Mr. Hittetiyage was trying to get revenge over his brother-in-law’s killing by trying to acquire the 100 acre land and thereby eject his family. In prison he had reportedly plotted the killing with his brother and a few underworld associates.

Police said that the day before the assassination was due to take place Madushantha’s brother and a few other gang members had spent the night in Madushantha’s house in Kamburupitiya and planned on following Mr. Hittetiyage. After the assassination Madushantha and the gang had gone into hiding.

However the police located the whereabouts of the gang. So far two men who allegedly planned the killing - Madushantha’s brother and his associate have been arrested. The police are at present looking for the killers who have been identified as being in the early twenties. Matara DIG Jayantha Gamage told The Sunday Times that he has appointed three special teams to work on the case.

“The gunmen who are in their early twenties are said to be wanted for several other organised crimes. We have found out that they are also contract killers. Once we finish the investigation we will be reporting to President Rajapaksa,” he said.


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