ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 20

Raymond’s death not linked to debts, says son

As City Coroner Edward Ahangama returned a verdict of suicide on the death of Raymond Perera who set himself on fire opposite the Norwegian embassy in Colombo on October 5, the victim’s son said he wanted to clear his father’s name because of reports he was debt-ridden.

“My father had taken only two loans and he had paid a part of one loan. That was no reason for him to take his life as he was having a steady income as a three-wheeler driver. He was supporting our family well”, his 21-year-old son Chamara Perera told The Sunday Times.

“He had a strong sense of patriotism and was critical of the Norwegians. He believed Norway was betraying our country. He always maintained that the Norwegians should be sent away without letting them interfere in our internal affairs. He was a man who loved the country immensely,” Chamara said.

He referred to the large number of people who turned up for the almsgiving last Thursday at their residence at Borupana, Ratmalana.

“The fact that a number of people turned up at the almsgiving was an indication that we were not in dire circumstances. He was also a very popular figure in the area,” he said. Chamara said that even on the day before he took his life, his father had been with some of his friends and even attended a funeral at a house close by.

“On the day of the incident he took my sister to the nursery as usual but returned because it was raining. Thereafter he left and showed no indication that he was going to end his life. I couldn’t observe anything different in his mood that day, although he did not go to the three-wheeler park that day to look for hires”, Chamara said.

He said interested parties should not try to gain political mileage from the incident as his father had no political affiliations.

The victim’s brother-in-law Upali Karunaratne said “He was a person who always showed a concern for the country. He was especially worried about the crisis Sri Lanka was facing today. He maintained that foreigners should not interfere unnecessarily in our internal problems and said what they did was to betray our motherland”.

Meanwhile an eyewitness to the incident, a guard attached to a private security firm described what he saw.

“He was carrying two bags. Suddenly he pulled out a bundle of posters from one bag and a can from the other bag. He poured some liquid from the can and then set himself on fire”, he said.

He said he saw the police guarding the Norwegian Embassy dousing the fire and then taking the man in a cab to hospital.

At the Coroner’s court Mr. Perera’s wife, Rukmani Jayasuriya (43) said her husband had not disputes or worries and usually came home by evening.

She said he had obtained a loan of Rs. 50,000 from an organization in the area and Rs. 30,000 from a finance company and had repaid a portion of one loan. She said she did not know why he had committed suicide.

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Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.