The weapon believed to have been used to assassinate Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar has been found among a cache of weapons detected in Chilaw, but crucial fingerprint evidence had been erased allegedly due to overenthusiastic police officers looking for publicity.
STF Chief Nimal Lewke told The Sunday Times they had about 90 percent confirmation that a Chinese-made sub machine gun (7.62 SMG) found among the weapons and ammunition in Mahawewa off Chilaw was the same weapon used in the assassination of Mr. Kadirgamar. DIG Lewke said they had also found other supporting evidence and only had to wait for the ballistic evidence which would give the full confirmation about the weapon.
The number of live rounds of ammunition found along with the cache of weapons was also tallying with the numbers fired in the Kadirgamar killing. The weapon had 90 rounds and 83 were still there.
The STF commandant said detectives had previous information that the assassins had escaped through Udappuwa in Puttalam to Mannar and the detection of the weapons was a further confirmation of this.
He said the grenades found in Mahawewa and those found in the Bullers Lane residence from where the killers shot Mr. Kadirgamar, were also similar. The specially tailored clothing to carry arms was also found in Mahawewa and was similar to the clothing found at the Buller`s Lane crime scene. He said a telescopic lens found at Mahawewa was believed to be the one used in the Kadirgamar killing.
Colombo Crimes Division Chief Sarath Lugoda said the weapon would be sent for ballistic tests soon but the police officers who found the weapons had not taken adequate precautions to protect the fingerprint evidence.
The tipoff on the Mahawewa weapons was given by a thambili seller to Marawila Inspector Hettiarachchi who personally brought the bag to the station. The Sunday Times learns the Marawila police had invited the media to show the weapons and in the process they were not handled properly, thus losing vital fingerprints.
Medical treatment for Gnanakone
Charles Gnanakone, the wealthy businessman being detained under Emergency Regulations for questioning in connection with the Lakshman Kadirgamar assassination case has obtained medical treatment.
Mr. Gnanakone, said to be a diabetic patient, requires four insulin injections a day. He was taken in from a house in Dehiwala on Monday and is being questioned by the Colombo Crime Division. Earlier a Colombo court impounded his passport.
Mr. Kadirgamar was reported to have been given an assurance by Mr. Gnanakone that he would not be assassinated as long as he was the Foreign Minister. The assurance had prompted Mr. Kadirgamar to drop his guard, according to investigators.