Work Supervisor, Gamini Saman was returning home from his workplace in the early hours of January 1, so that he could mark the dawn of the new year with his family at their home in Kotiyagala, Ingiriya. But, it was not to be, as he was beaten up with clubs and stones by a group [...]


Crimes, murders decline, but most remain unsolved with fewer successful prosecutions


Work Supervisor, Gamini Saman was returning home from his workplace in the early hours of January 1, so that he could mark the dawn of the new year with his family at their home in Kotiyagala, Ingiriya.

But, it was not to be, as he was beaten up with clubs and stones by a group who waylaid him close to his house.

The dog Gero at the scene of the crime in Kotiyagala, Ingiriya and below right protests by residents and monks. Pic by Nimali Kahawala

The person/s responsible for the murder were not apparent, with no visible clues for the police.

PC H.M.D Duminda and his police dog Grero from the Horana division, came across a wooden bangle, and Grero led the police to a house some two-and-a-half kilometres away from the crime scene.

“We were able to gain some clue with the assistance of Grero, which was useful,” an officer involved in the investigations said.

Four days after the murder, no suspects had been taken into custody, and the villagers became restless. On the day of the funeral, January 4, villagers blocked one of the key roads by placing Saman’s coffin on it.

Horana Division ASP D.M.J.B. Dassanayaka who rushed to the scene, tried to disperse the crowd, while, subsequently, SSP Kapila Katupitiya from the Panadura Division, assured the people that within five days all the suspects would be taken into custody.

In keeping with the SSP’s assurances, a day after the funeral, two arrests were made, followed by another midweek and the last on Friday. All suspects were between the ages of 23 and 28 years. The clubs used in the fatal attack have also been recovered.Initial investigations reveal that it was a revenge killing, as the suspects had had a dispute with the victim’s brother who is in the security forces. Unable to get at him, they had murdered the elder brother.

Further police investigations are continuing under the direction of Ingiriya OIC, IP Udaya Kumara.This murder was one of a string of brutal murders that have taken place and continue to take place in keeping with the high crime rate in the country.

Last Monday, a group armed with a pistol, arrived in a van at the residence of Nishantha Aponso, 35, at Badovita, Mt Lavinia.

They claimed they were from the Police Special Investigations Unit and wanted Nishantha for questioning. They handcuffed him and took him away, telling his family members that the ‘suspect’ would be produced at the Mirihana police station on the following day.

Police at the scene of the killing of the Matara businessman. Pic by Krishan Jeewaka Jayaruk

The following day, a man at his morning exercises near a paddy field, noticed a body with cut injuries with its hands tied behind its back.

“We observed that the injuries on the body were caused by a sharp weapon. The victim was identified as a person who once had several narcotics cases against him, but had given up this practice in favour of money lending,” said OIC Boralesgamuwa Police, IP M.M.S.K. Mayadunna.“We suspect that the murder was due to a drug related case. Further investigations are under way,” he said.

To date, at least nine murders have been reported by the police in the new year.

As a rule one or two murders are reported every 24 hours.

Former Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Daya Samaraweera believes that one way of reducing crime or murders would be to raise the number of successful prosecutions.

He said that only about 50 per cent of those involved in crime are apprehended, while only about 15 per cent of the suspects are convicted, and the others go scot-free due to various reasons including lack of evidence or failure to properly investigate the cases.

“In the past, there was a system where the station OIC would send a progress report on the status of crimes and murders resolved/pending, to the SSP, who returns it to the OIC with directives to expedite the inquiry. However, now, some of the stations do not even send the report,” he said.

“In the past unresolved cases were a shame and could hinder one’s promotions, but now it may not be the case,” he said.

He said that after the initial visits of the police officers to the scene of the crime, further visits to the crime scene or area were necessary, if there is no breakthrough. “However, this does not happen and therefore, new information does not come in.”

DIG- Crimes I.M. Karunaratne told the Sunday Times that according to police statistics, last year there were fewer murders compared with the previous year, with 646 murders reported in 2012 dropping to 586 in 2013.

“We believe that some of the awareness campaigns, as well as gathering of information on criminals through various sources, has helped keep the murder tally below the previous year’s,” he said.

“However, we need to bring this figure down further. We are planning to adopt several methods including seeking public help. We need at least 50 per cent of the information from the public, to bust any criminal activity including murder. Some people have the information, but do not speak out of fear,” he said.

“Sometimes, people are under threat, but do not come to the police for help, which eventually ends up in murder. This situation could be avoided if they come to the police,” DIG Karunaratne said.

He said they were planning to conduct an awareness campaign through the police stations, on how to reduce crime, which could also help to reduce murders.

He said that personal disputes including land issues, disputes over money transactions, sudden anger and robberies were among the reasons for murders to take place.

Additional reporting by Nimali Kahawala

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