The army says two of the five robbers arrested over the break-in at the home of journalist Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema yesterday are deserters and not soldiers still serving in the army.
Army spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya said that some parties including web based media have attempted to implicate the Sri Lanka Army in the robbery that took place at Bambalapitiya.
“The Sri Lanka Army does not approve any crime and particularly we regret this incident in which a senior journalist has suffered at the hands of a gang of robbers. The police are conducting investigations and there is no doubt the truth will be revealed in due course, “ he said.
The army spokesman said that one deserter, Private Soldier K. P. Chamara Kumara of Weralupitiya, Awissawella, was arrested whilst in service in September 2009 for a theft. After a summary trial according to the Army Act he was awarded 90 days detention on 06 October and whilst being held in detention at his Regimental Centre in order to be handed over to the Panagoda Detention Barracks (an Army correctional facility administered by the Military Police) he escaped from detention and deserted on 08 October 2009.
On 24 May 2010 he surrendered. After due disciplinary procedure he was awarded 90 days detention in July 2010 and was detained at Panagoda Detention Barracks. Upon completion of the period of detention he was handed over to the Regimental Centre on 9 September 2010 and on 6 October 2010 he became absent without leave and later declared a deserter. On 25 June 2013 Hungama Police arrested this deserting soldier and was handed over to his Regiment on 9 July 2013. Upon a summary trial it was decided to discharge the soldier from service as per due procedure and was temporarily discharged (such temporary discharge is instituted until clearance from all army establishments is obtained) from 15 July 2013 to 20 August 2013. On 20 August the soldier reported back but since his clearance from some institutes were not received he was given another letter of temporary discharge from 21 August 2013 to 25 October 2013. He has got involved in this robbery during that period.
“It is noteworthy to mention that two other robbers including the one who died are his own brothers as revealed in preliminary investigations. They are K. Rohitha Lakshman and K. Indika Sampath (killed during the incident). This proves that the three brothers have been involved in this together and this may not be the first such robbery carried out by them,” the army spokesman said.
He said that the other deserter is Rifleman Asanka Ubeysiri . He has joined the Army on 06 March 2009 and has deserted the service on 25 May 2010. Since then he has never reported or arrested until this incident.
“Like any other Army the Sri Lanka Army always takes strict disciplinary action against anyone who breaches the provisions of the Army Act. As you can see in the case of the first soldier it was the Army that initiated action for a theft he carried out whilst in service. We don’t approve or support crimes of any nature,” the army spokesman said. (Colombo Gazette)