Police investigating journalist Dharmalingam Sivaram?s killing are baffled as to why he was shot dead on the banks of the Diyawanna Oya near parliament.
Sivaram, also known by his journalistic pseudonym, Taraki had been shot once through his head killing him instantaneously. Police have recovered two 9mm empties near the body.
`Whoever who shot him could easily have collected the empties,` a policeman told The Sunday Island, adding that a second shot had entered the body after going through his left hand.
Investigators said that there was no indication to suggest that Sivaram had struggled with his captors. They said that the 46-year-old journalist had been dealt a hard blow to back of head with a blunt instrument before he was shot.
IGP Chandra Fernando has directed the Colombo Crime Division (CCD) to investigate the killing. Fernando has also assigned the STF to conduct a separate probe.
An unidentified gang abducted Sivaram as he waited for a bus near a Bambalapitiya restaurant situated opposite the Bambalapitiya police station Thursday night at about 10.30 pm.
Police said that Sivaram had not been tortured. His abductors had not been after information, a DIG said, adding that they could have shot him outside the restaurant. But they took him all the way to Sri Jayawardhanapura and shot him.
According to Kusal Perera now with Ravaya, Sivaram had been on his mobile phone when he was dragged into a grey coloured jeep.
Perera had told the Colombo Crime Division (CCD) that Sivaram, Prasantha Ratnayake (a cousin of UNP MP Sagala Ratnayake) and health sector trade union activist Ravi Kumudesh and he had beer at the Bambalapitiya restaurant. While Ratnayake and Kumudesh had taken a three-wheeler towards Kollupitiya, he and Sivaram had waited for a bus when his colleague was bundled into the vehicle. The CCD had recorded their statements.
Police said that they did not find Sivaram?s cellular phone on his body. `It could have fallen in the vehicle,` the investigator said. The possibility of the cellular phone taken by one of the gang could not be ruled out, he said.
The LTTE in a statement issued from its Kilinochchi headquarters on Friday accused the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) and para-militaries collaborating with the services of the killing. The LTTE identifies the dissident faction led by one time Batticaloa commander Karuna as a para-military unit working with the military.
Military spokesman Brigadier Daya Ratnayake dismissed the LTTE claim. `We have nothing to do with Sivaram`s killing or with Karuna,` he emphasised.
`Forces that cannot stand up to Sivaram?s resoluteness, his firm conviction on issues, and depth and brilliance in broad range of skills, have abducted and murdered him to silence his voice,` the LTTE said.
`Sivaram had threats from Sri Lanka military intelligence several times in the past. Security forces have forced entry and have searched his residence in the past. Murder was carried out inside the high security zone. Therefore, the Sri Lanka Government and its security forces bear responsibility for this murder,` the LTTE said.
Sivaram?s killing comes hot on the heels of the disappearance of a top LTTE cadre identified as Newton during a recent visit to the south. Newton believed to be one of the senior cadres responsible for a series of bomb attacks in Colombo and suburbs over a period of time had disappeared. His disappearance was followed by the vanishing of Inspector T. Jeyaratnam of police intelligence believed to be taken by LTTE operatives with the help of a person who claimed to have been with the PLOTE.
The government has denied any knowledge of Newton?s whereabouts. The LTTE keeps mum on Jeyaratnam although the police have accused the LTTE of abducting the officer.