Double murder: Victims were whipped before being killed

Angulana police officers were drunk on the night of the killings, while witness denies having had an affair with the OIC. Malik Gunatilleke and Damith Wickramasekera report, Pics by Saman Kariyawasam

At the court inquiry into the deaths of two youths whose bullet-riddled bodies were found in Angulana two weeks ago, court heard that the two young men had been taken into police custody before they were killed, that the police officers accused of killing the youths had been under the influence of liquor on the night of the murders, and that the Angulana police had tampered with the Crime Information Book (CIB) the day after the murders.

The nine Angulana police officers, including the OIC, who are facing charges being led away from court.
Night of August 12 is on everyone’s mind.
Constables arrive to give evidence in the case
OIC T. J. Newton awaits court hearing.
Angulana residents turn up in strength to hear first hearing in the double murder case.

Nine police officers attached to the Angulana police station were produced before the Mt. Lavinia Magistrate on Friday in connection with the murder of Dinesh Fernando and Dhammika Aponso, both residents of Angulana. The victims’ bodies were found on the morning of August 13.

According to eyewitnesses, armed police officers blindfolded the two victims and took them away in a jeep on the night of August 12.

Constable Kasun Buddhika, 22, who was in charge of the police log book on August 12, told court that on the morning of August 13 the officer in charge, T. J. Newton, instructed him to rewrite all the entries he had made in the CIB book the previous day. He said the page on which he had written the entries for August 12 had been torn out.

“Just below my last entry I saw a few lines under the head ‘Regarding a harassment’, written by another officer,” Constable Buddhika said. “I was told to rewrite all my entries and forge signatures of complainants.”

He said he carried out the OIC’s order, while angry residents were shouting outside the police station. After having rewritten the log entries, he was asked to dispose of the original page containing the entry of the two boys’ arrest the previous night.

Home guard Susantha Jayarathne, who was on duty at the Angulana police post on the night of August 12, told court that the OIC and four other police officers were partying at one of the defendant’s homes that evening when he was asked to go and summon them back to the station.

Mr. Jayarathne said he had worked as a tailor before joining the police force, and that he knew the victims by name because they were regular visitors at his tailoring establishment.From inside the police station he said he could hear the youths being assaulted. “I heard the sound of whipping. The victims were shouting to the officers to stop hitting them. I told someone at the station to tell the boys’ parents what was happening,” he said.

Constable Jayarathne said that at 12.45 am OIC Newton emerged from the police station and ordered Roshan Bandara Navaratne, another defendant in the case, to open the doors of the police jeep. The two victims, who were handcuffed and had blue polythene bags over their heads, were bundled into the jeep. Constable Anura Pradeep Kumarasiri, another defendant, climbed into the jeep armed with a T-56 weapon. Evidence submitted to court included a T-56 casing found near one of the bodies.Constable Jayarathne told court that OIC Newton had ordered him to tell the Mt. Lavinia Police that no youths had been brought to the Angulana Police station on the night of August 12, and that he had not seen anything suspicious that night.

In separate evidence, police officer Piyasena Abeypala, uncle of defendant Dhammika Nihal, told court that his nephew had called and given him an account of the events of the night of August 12.

Mr. Abeypala, who is stationed in Kebithigollewa, said that on hearing what had happened at the Angulana Police Station, and that his nephew Nihal was involved, attempted to contact Nihal on his mobile phone. At the time of the call, Nihal was being held at the Mt. Lavinia police station.“When I finally got through to him, I asked if he had been involved in the killings,” said police officer Abeypala, who has been in police force for 19 years. “At first he said no, but when I told him I would help only if he told me the whole truth, he said it was he who had shot and killed the two victims.”

Dhammika Nihal had asked his uncle Mr. Abeypala whether he should try and escape from police custody. Mr. Abeypala told him he should give a true statement and accept the consequences.
Court heard that on the night of the double murder, the Angulana police had been informed that two youths had been harassing a woman in a tsunami camp nearby. The events that followed resulted in the apprehension, assault and murder of the two young men, court heard.

Witness Kalpani Fernando, 35 years, told court that on the evening of August 12 she and her husband Tharanga Dharshana, their nine-year-old son, and a friend had gone to the tsunami camp in Angulana to be with her grandmother. It was about 9.30 pm. They went to bed shortly after, and at about 10.15 pm they heard the sound of glass breaking.

“There was a young man outside in a black T-shirt, and he wanted a cigarette. He said he had just thrown a bottle of alcohol he had been sharing with friends. My uncle told him he had no cigarettes, and the young man left,” Ms. Fernando told court.

Shortly after, the young man returned, this time in the company of another young man, who was wearing a yellow T-shirt. “Once again he asked for a cigarette. He then asked my husband if he could go in his three-wheeler to get some cigarettes. Again we refused the young man. Both men then left.”

Ms. Fernando told court that she later identified the youth in the black T-shirt as 22-year-old Dhanushka Aponso, and the youth in the yellow T-shirt as Dinesh Fernando, the victims of the double murder.

Ms. Fernando claimed that one of the boys had later entered the house and held her hand. She woke up the others in the house and told them what had happened. The occupants decided to report the matter to the Angulana police. They arrived at the station at 11.30 pm. Ms. Fernando and her party saw two police officers, one she identified as defendant Gayan Chathuranga Thotawatta.

On hearing the complaint about the intruder, the two officers told Ms. Fernando and the others that they could not take any action without knowing who the intruder was.

Ms. Fernando told court that the two youths were apprehended later that night when they were seen walking past the police station. On pointing out the two young men to the police, four policemen in civil clothes accosted the youths and made them face a wall. The officers then proceeded to whip the two youths with a three-foot strip of rubber taken from the inside of a police three-wheeler.

Ms. Fernando told court that up to that point she had not lodged a formal complaint with the police. After the beating, the youths had threatened to report the Angulana police to a human rights group.

Ms. Fernando said the police then asked her and the others to leave the police station. When they asked whether they should lodge a formal complaint, they were told to come to the station the next day at 7.30 am.

When asked whether it was true that the residents of Angulana were blaming her for the deaths of the two boys, because of an alleged relationship between Ms. Fernando and OIC Newton, Ms. Fernando denied the allegation. She told court she had never seen OIC Newton before the night of August 12. She also said it was obvious that OIC Newton had been drinking that evening.

The inquiry will continue before Chief Magistrate Harsha Setunge.

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