The body of a Sri Lankan shot dead in Italy was sent to Colombo last Tuesday.
The 42-year-old victim, R. Joseph Fernando, a resident of Fathima Place, Wennappuwa, had been shot through the head presumably by the son of the owner of the orchard he worked in, a coroner`s inquiry heard last week.
As a police report from Italy did not accompany the body, Inquirer into Sudden Deaths, Ragama, H. M. S. Tissera observed that the Sri Lankan authorities should pursue this matter and ensure that proper legal documentation was sent from Italy.
`A police report is important as there is a legal procedure to follow here`, he noted.
Ms. R. Janet Violet (58), the eldest sister of the victim said that her brother first went to Italy in 1990 and worked in Milan for eight years.
After returning to Sri Lanka, he left again for Italy in 1999 and had been working there since then. He changed jobs in 2005 and started working for an orchard in another city, she told the inquest at the Ragama Hospital last Thursday.
Something had apparently gone wrong at the orchard as, during the past few months he sounded worried and complained of threats to his life, she said.
`My brother, who is a bachelor, used to telephone home often and complain that the son of the woman who owned the orchard was threatening him and that he feared for his life`, Violet recalled.
She said that her brother returned to Sri Lanka on a two-week holiday on July 7, 2007. `He came to my house later and told me that he was under threat as he had a disagreement with the son of the owner of the orchard`.
He said that this man had a gun and he feared that he might shoot him. He was worried as he felt his life was in danger, she said.
`On July 21, he left for Italy again and four days later we were informed that he had been shot dead by some persons while working there`, she said. `I don`t know exactly who killed my brother, but I suspect the son of the owner`.
Negombo Magistrate Ms. Kanthi Wanigasekera directed Ragama JMO Dr. A. Dayapala to perform an autopsy and submit a report to court.
Dr. Dayapala said that the body, sent in a sealed coffin, was opened in the presence of the victim`s relatives.
He said that death was caused by a gunshot injury to the forehead but there was no bullet or shrapnel found embedded in the body.
The autopsy performed by Dr. Dominico Caserta of the Puzzolo Formigaro Hospital in Italy also determined that death was caused by a firearm.
However, as there was no police report from Italy it is still not known who had shot the victim, the motive behind the killing and whether any arrests had been made.
`This issue must be taken up at the highest level as bodies should not be sent without a police report from that end`, the Inquirer into Sudden Deaths said.
PC Senarath Bandara of the Airport police led evidence.