Sunday, October 24, 2004

Army major held for robbery and murder by Shamindra Ferdinando

The recent arrest of a graduate of the Kotelawala Defence Academy holding the rank of major with a stolen vehicle helped the CID to make a major breakthrough in its investigations into the disappearance of a vehicle and its driver several months ago.

"We initiated an inquiry after receiving a complaint from a person who owned several vehicles. He complained of the disappearance of a vehicle belonging to him and its driver," a senior CID spokesperson told the Sunday Island.

There was evidence to suggest that an army officer was probably involved in the disappearance. "But unfortunately we did not have corroborative evidence," he said, adding that the data available at the time was forwarded to the Criminal Records Division (CRD).

The breakthrough came unexpectedly when Wattegama police acting on a tip off arrested two persons fleeing the area in a stolen vehicle. "They were caught in the act," the CID spokesperson said, adding that once their identities were established, the investigators with the help of evidence available from the CRD, made the much awaited breakthrough.

Under interrogation, the second-in-command of an army camp in the Mannar sector and his buddy had admitted they hired the vehicle and then abducted its driver. According to investigators, the driver had been taken to the major’s room where he was drugged before they cut him to pieces and disposed of the body.

On the request of the CID, the Government Analyst’s Department visited the scene of the crime. Officials also visited the place where the body parts doused with fuel were burnt, the CID said.

Army headquarters said the officer had been with the Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment (Regular).

Investigators are trying to find out whether the army duo was responsible for any other killings.

Senior CID officials said that they had been called to investigate several cases where army officers were involved in fraud and corruption.

"Some officers have played out the state and the army in style," one officer said, revealing there were serious malpractices with regard to purchases in food rations and medical items.