Controversy surrounds the sudden transfer of a top narcotics sleuth, responsible for bringing to book a number of high profile drug dealers. IP Priyantha Liyanage, the OIC of the Police Narcotics Bureau, was transferred to the Police Training College, Kalutara from August 18, with no reason was given.
While many individuals and organisations, who are clamouring for a narcotics free society view with scorn the transfer of this officer who has been responsible for many a detection and the successful prosecution of drug barons, Inspector General of Police Chandra Fernando said that IP Liyanage had neglected his duties by failing to conduct drug-related raids during the past eight months and that was why the decision had been taken to transfer him.
`How can he conduct raids without receiving credible information? All his time is spent in the Law Courts prosecuting the numerous drug dealers, who he has already apprehended. Raids are conducted only on credible information received from informants,` a senior police officer of the Narcotic Bureau argued.
President of the Police Inspectors Association IP Dale Gunaratne, asked to comment, said his association, too, is probing this transfer and as far as he was concerned IP Priyantha Liyanage is an efficient police officer who had conducted several successful raids and was responsible for putting many drug barons behind bars.
IP Liyanage conducted a well planned raid on a luxury residence in Ward Place, Colombo 7 and arrested three suspects with 23 Kgs of heroin. He is the only officer who has brought the highest number of drug offenders before Court. His other successful raids include 10Kgs from Kollupitiya, 2.8 Kgs from a bus plying to Colombo from Mannar, 7 Kgs from Kattuwa in Negombo and 5.5 Kgs from a trawler, in addition to several smaller detections. He was one of the most hated policemen by drug barons and his solid, meticulous prosecution in courts had landed several big time drug leaders in prisons, some for life while some were sentenced to death. All these major detections and successful prosecutions were achieved during the last three years.
IP Liyanage was earlier in the STF and joined the PNB in the year 1999.
Narcotic Bureau officials, surprised at the transfer, said that this could hamper the ongoing investigations, where he was involved in detections and also prosecutions in Courts `His transfer is only kudos for kudu mudalalis` one PNB officer said
Similar to Liyanage`s transfer two other officers involved in the Ward Place case and being main prosecution witnesses, were suddenly transferred to the Katunayake Airport PNB branch thus making it difficult for them to attend Courts in Colombo.
A section of officers attached to the PNB suspect that there is a conspiracy in these transfers.