Home » Featured, News

Aide to Sri Lanka’s General Fonseka arrested over journalist murder

[telegraph.co.uk, Tuesday, 2 February 2010 16:13 No Comment]

 General Sarath Fonseka stood for election to the Sri Lankan presidency  Photo: AFP  Brigadier Duminda Keppetiwalana, aide to the former Sri Lankan army chief General Fonseka, was arrested over the murder last year of journalist Lasantha Wickrematunga.

General Fonseka, who was last week defeated in the Sri Lankan presidential election by the incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa, said the arrest of Brigadier Keppetiwalana was part of a wider attempt to isolate him and tarnish his reputation.

Brigadier Keppetiwalana, who served as the former army chief’s military assistant, was among 13 senior officers associated with General Fonseka who were ousted following President Rajapaksa’s election victory.

A further 21 retired senior officers working in the Fonseka campaign office have also been arrested amid claims from government sources that they were planning a coup against President Rajapaksa, the general said.

Diplomats said the campaign against General Fonseka reflected continuing insecurity within the Rajapaksa camp despite his overwhelming victory.

General Fonseka has claimed his defeat was the result of ‘ballot theft’ but has yet to release evidence to support his allegations.

Last night he told The Daily Telegraph he had spoken to the wife of Brigadier Keppetiwalana after her husband’s arrest last weekend and that police officers who raided their home told her he was being held for questioning in relation to the murder of the Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunga in January last year.

Mr Wickrematunga, who had been a fierce critic of corruption and extra-judicial killings under President Rajapaksa’s rule, was shot dead in a drive-by shooting by motorcycle gunmen as he drove to his office.

He had been locked in a legal battle with President Rajapaksa’s brother and defence secretary Gothabaya, and blamed the president’s family for his own murder in a posthumous editorial.

“Mahinda. You have told me that your sons are your greatest joy, and that you love spending time with them, leaving your brothers to operate the machinery of state. Now, it is clear to all who will see that that machinery has operated so well that my sons and daughter do not themselves have a father,” he wrote.

General Fonseka last night denied Brigadier Keppetiwalana had any involvement in Mr Wickrematunga’s murder. “They are doing this to isolate me, to take my staff away so I can’t run for office. No one can see these people or make a complaint.

“He [President Rajapaksa] is like a mad dog putting everyone in detention,” he said.

[Full Coverage]

(For updates you can share with your friends, follow TNN on Facebook, Twitter and Google+)

Comments are closed.