In a stunning disclosure, it was revealed yesterday that the country`s top criminals were leading luxurious lives at the Welikada Magazine Prison premises in a star class bungalow with ultra-modern facilities.
The discovery was made following a surprise visit by a team headed by Justice Ministry Secretary Suhada K. Gamalath who was on a mission to find out the status of prisoners who were unable to pay fines.
It was revealed that among the leading criminals enjoying luxury facilities at the Magazine Prison were drug king pins, murder suspects in the assassination case of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, police bribery suspects, multimillionaire foreign suspects and the main suspect in what is considered to be one of Asia`s biggest VAT scam amounting to billions. The Ministry Secretary had been shocked to see a compact bungalow with star class facilities within the prison premises where the suspects were living in air-conditioned rooms with massive television sets and modern bathrooms without a single prison guard keeping watch on them.
?The building is separated from the main prison and it is surrounded with a well maintained garden and parapet walls,? a prison source told the Daily Mirror describing what he called the rogues` gallery of the country`s leading criminals.
Following the shocking revelation, the Justice Ministry Secretary immediately ordered the transfer of Magazine prison Superintendent W. H. Wijayatillake and called for a full probe on the preferential treatment given to notorious criminals.
The suspects living in this luxurious bungalow were Thamil Eeniyam and Rengan Jenagan - the two main murder suspects arrested in connection with the killing of the former Foreign Minister, Mohamed Shyam Mohammed Shamoon - the main suspect in country`s biggest drug, leading drug kingpin Noor Mohamed and A. G. de Soyza Jayatillake - the main suspect in the biggest tax fraud case.
Besides them were Jeewaratnam Susanthan, Saman Sujeewa Kumara, A. M. M. Chandana, E. A. P. Ediriweera, Ramanchandran Wigneshwaran and Police officer Nishantha Kumara Muthikuda were also living in individual rooms in this luxury bungalow.
In addition to the local suspects, the house also provided accommodation to wealthy foreign nationals jailed for various offences.
When queried by the Daily Mirror, Prisons Chief Rumy Marzook said he was not aware of the existence of such a `luxurious house? within the prison premises and claimed all prisoners treated alike.
However he admitted that the suspect in the VAT fraud had requested for special security through a lawyer as there was a threat to his life.
But the Daily Mirror learnt that the suspect A. G. Zoysa Jayatillake had also requested for permission for special meal arrangements too.
A Senior Prison official told the Daily Mirror preferential treatment was given to prisoners at all leading prisons in the country and the Negombo prison was notorious for it.
He said it was shocking that the country`s notorious were plotting major crimes, operating the underworld and drug trafficking while living in the lap of luxury in the prisons.
It was revealed that the special building was built a few years ago to accommodate a local multimillionaire businessman who was remanded for alleged violation of the immigration law.