1st March 1998
Mega show script in a state of flux
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Thilak Shantha-the confidant turned accomplice
It was a mega production, the epic that would make Cecil B. de Mille hide his head in shame. The finances ran into millions. The contents of the mega drama astounded the gullible and the rational and the foolish and the intelligent.
When the epic was televised, the respectable, the ingenuous and the learned were stunned by it. It made some of them shed any doubts they entertained about the murder of the patriot. The elite wanted to believe that the lowly man at the helm of affairs was responsible for this dastardly crime They refuse to accept any other theory or explanation. The epic proved to them that the LTTE was innocent.
It was important then to publicise this to the world. The future of the Government depended upon the success of the on- going peace talks with `Nelson Mandela` of Jaffna Pattnam. For instance they would in unison re-echo the sentiments expressed in the epic. `Surely this was not the manner in which the LTTE killed people? Absurd! The LTTE has denied the murder. They have sent a fax from the Headquarters in London` `Surely they are not cowards if they did it, they will admit it. They admitted the murder of Denzil` `What about the backup team`? `There was only a lone gunman`. `This is a crude job by that man to put the blame on the LTTE`. The message is clear that it would be driven home.
He made many mistakes, and he died by his own folly. But the ghost of this man is seen everywhere. The houses he constructed are crumbling, the factories he opened are closing. The roads he built are fast becoming pot holed. The country has stopped like the clocks in the clock towers he erected. The poor in hush hush tones venerate this man. Now even the educated feel the loss.
Two Assistant Directors Leave
But before the production was complete, the two assistant directors, who wanted to explore the bottom of the abyss in the pursuit of truth, resigned when they were confronted with the star actress.
The Commissioner. Tissa Bandaranayake, sporting a lovable smile, handed over the report of the Lalith Athulathmudali and Denzil Kobbekaduwa commission to the President. Bingo! Ranasinghe Premadasa was found directly involved in the murder of Lalith Athulathmudali and Denzil Kobbekaduwa. Mr. V. Prabhakaran, was absolved of these heinous crimes.
The ultimate spy, the accomplice to murder
The commission found the trusted bodyguard of Lalith Athulathmudali who allegedly shot the assassin, to be an accomplice. This would mean that Gusthinna Waduge Thilak Shantha was hand in glove with `Soththti Upali` and in turn in the pay of R. Premadasa. Hundreds of Police officers were involved in this elaborate conspiracy. Premadasa managed even to deceive Scotland Yard. The plan was so insidious, the intrigue was so astounding, that no mortal, not even the maestro of detectives, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle could have conceived it. Only Premadasa and B. Sirisena Cooray could have hatched it. They found Thilak Shantha, the body- guard of Lalith, a perfidious spy, a double agent, a double cross, that he removed the gunpowder from the cartridge and doctored it and shot himself in the leg in order to feign an injury from the alleged assassin. The plot was so diabolical that the entire household of Laltih Athulathmudali believed in Thilak Shantha.
They gave him protection, kept him at Flower Road and treated him. When the Government came to power he was found employment under Srimani. The commission began by recording his evidence. The plot was so secret that all the police officers who were on duty were oblivious to it. Others who knew nothing actively supported it. The Judicial Medical Officers, the Government Analyst, and all other responsible State Officers were made to believe the killer was Raghunathan, an innocent Tamil youth who had come to Colombo in search of foreign employment, with all the papers with him, like the nice girl who blasted herself, near the Air Force Headquarters who had been released by the CID and cleared by the CDB and the NIB as she had come to Colombo to go abroad.
On the 23rd of April 1993 an assassin shoots and kills Lalith. Thilak Shantha the body guard of the late Lalith Athulathmudali shoots at the assassin. The body-guard is hurt, is taken to General Hospital and warded. The body- guard is aware that the pistol with which he shot was procured by the family of late Athulathmudali and was an unlicensed firearm. If that matter was disclosed he feared that he might be arrested and remanded or even killed. He makes a statement to the Police but does not mention that he shot at the assassin.
On 1st May 1993 Mr. R. Premadasa is assassinated. A few days later Thilak Shantha accompanied by his lawyer representing Athulathmu-dali`s family and brother of Srimani, Mr. Harin de Saram, makes a statement to the Police, after the A.G. gives him an undertaking that he (Thilaka Shantha) would not be prosecuted for possessing an unlicensed firearm. The Pistol is handed over to Scotland Yard. Thilak Shantha describes the manner in which he shot the assassin and how the bullet struck the assassin`s abdomen.
But when this statement was made it was a known fact that the bullet had not struck the stomach of Raghunathan but the back. Those who wished to refute that Raghunathan was not the assassin were happy.
Thilak Shantha is the first witness to be called before the commission.
He reiterates the above story and states further that he was shown the body of the Raghunathan (alleged assassin according to police) and he without doubt refutes that Raghunathan was the assassin. If Thilak Shantha`s statement is true Raghunathan is not the assassin.
The assassin who had escaped from the scene with injuries should have gunshot injuries in the stomach every one thinks
A letter is written by Chinthaka Amerasinghe, the rival gang-lord of Soththi Upali who knows that he cannot come out of jail on bail as a number of murder cases are pending, states that if he is released on bail he would reveal the true identity of the assassin of the late Lalith Athulathmudali. The action is so swift that even before Chinthaka could realise what happened he is released on bail and implicates his arch rival `Soththi Upali` and one of his `golaya`s Janaka Priyankara Jayamanne as culprits and states that Janaka Priyankara Jaya-manne alias Sudu Mahaththaya was the assassin.
Sudumahattaya is arrested. He pleads with the Magistrate that he is even prepared to die to let any doctor cut him open to find out whether there are any gun shot injuries in his body as described by Thilak. The Commission directs Sudumahattaya to be examined by doctors and specialists. He has not even a scrape mark let alone a gun shot injury, on his body.
Problem I and the Solution
The entire scenario had to be changed. Thilak Shantha is recalled. Mrs. Sharmila Perera, Attorney at Law, confidante of the Lalith family, brings Thilak Shantha to the commission. Thilak Shantha changes his story again. Thilak Shantha laments and is virtually in tears, and says that he felt so bad when he found that the real assassin had been arrested and that he had no gun-shot injuries in the body, and he felt that because of his earlier testimony the real assassin might escape. He has a duty by his beloved leader. He wants to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. The truth is that he shot at the assassin, but the bullet never hit the assassin. He lied to the commission and to the police at the instance of a President`s Counsel who was watching the interests of Lalith`s family. Every one is relieved. Therefore, the new assassin could not have any injuries as Thilak Shantha`s bullet did not strike him. Therefore Sudumahattaya`s claim that he has no bullet wounds does not hold water.
Problem No: 2
But still there is one big hitch. The evidence of the JMO and the Government Analyst and the Scotland Yard and all other experts do not fall in line with this story. The Government Analyst states in no uncertain terms that the bullet taken from Raghunathan`s spine came from Thilak Shantha`s gun. Damning evidence, the Jury will believe the experts and not Thilak Shantha.
Problem No: 2 solved
Without a single suggestion being put by the State to Thilak Shantha, that he was an accomplice, the Commission finds Thilak Shantha an accomplice who shot himself with a doctored bullet, a bullet from which gun-powder had been removed to feign that he received gun-shot injury. The Commission concludes he never shot anyone but himself. In the mean-time some one shot at Raghunath-an with a similar doctored cartridge and injected him with cyanide and put some glass pieces into his mouth to show that it was an LTTE job. The expert opinion of Scotland Yard, The Government Analyst, and the others had been rejected and the opinion of a gunsmith who was never called to give evidence was admitted. The Audi Alteram Partem followed to the maximum.
Problem No 3
Still there are a lot of gaping holes to be filled before prosecuting any oneThe killing of Lalith Athulathmudali The 3rd Serial which is to be enacted in the near future.
Thilaka Shantha, the body- guard of Lalith Athulathm-udali is to be charged as an accomplice to the murder. Till very recently he was a faithful employee of Madam Srimani Athulthmudali in her Ministry.
Thilak Shantha is arrested by the CID and he makes a confession on these lines. He is taken before a Magistrate. The Magistrate records the confession. Thilak Shantha is then released on bail and made a State witness. He describes the conspiracy and st...