(By Tharindu Jayawardhana | Translated by Akitha Wijayasinghe)
Samarasinghe Arachchige Madush Lakshitha alias Makandure Madush, who was being questioned by the CID on a detention order in connection with the shooting and killing of a group of police officers in Piliyandala, was also killed recently.
He was detained by the CID for about a year and a half and handed over to the Colombo Crimes Division (CCD). He was under the custody of the CCD when he was killed.
Who is Madush Lakshitha?
Samarasinghe Arachchilage Madhush Lakshitha aka Makandure Madush, well known as the Godfather of the local underworld by the media, was born in 1979 as the eldest child of a poor family. Madush’s mother was a woman who had some interest in politics. She was inclined towards the JVP. Madush was only nine or ten years old when the 1988/89 insurgence began.
Madush’s mother was shot dead by a group of Sri Lanka Army personnel when she was attending a political meeting allegedly organized by the JVP. At that time the JVP had been declared a banned organization. It was first banned in 1983. The government had used the army to suppress the youth insurgency.
It is a well-known secret that there were torture chambers all over Sri Lanka with the sponsorship of the government. The Leader of the JVP Rohana Wijeweera was also killed by the Army. However, after 2005, the JVP supported Mahinda Rajapaksa in the presidential election and at that time the JVP was of the view that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) should be defeated by the Sri Lanka Army.
Madush’s life became more and more difficult after his mother’s death. Madush and his younger brother, who later grew up with a cousin, lead a hard life. Madush was looked down by the society in various ways. He was subjected to social injustice.
After disrupting his education, Madush started working as a laborer for a living. He worked for a time as a hospital attendant and also worked on a bus. It is learnt that he also worked in a saw mill. Later he started a mobile saw mill of his own. As a result, he had received threats from other saw mill owners in the area.
Madush responded to these threats by attacking back. He married a nurse after a love affair and fathered a child.
He became an indispensable figure in village funerals as well as weddings. That shows how much he contributed to such events. It was not long before Madush became a well-known figure in the village. Gradually increasing his income, he was surrounded by people from all walks of life. Among them were lawmakers and politicians. Crimes were not new to him from an early age because of his experiences including the death his mother.
Madush was made notorious by the media as an underworld figure after the assassination of Southern Development Authority Chairman Danny Hiththetiye. Madush was the first suspect of the crime. Southern Development Authority Chairman Danny Hiththetiya was killed on June 11, 2006 by two gunmen on a motorcycle at a shop near his home in Makandura. However, Madush was under remand custody at the time.
His brother was also killed while in prison. The police were suspected for the incident. Madush’s relatives say that when they went to the police to lodge a complaint after Madush’s brother was abducted in a white van, but the police did not register the complaint for hours.
He fled Sri Lanka when the police leveled various allegations against him. His final destination across several countries was Dubai.
Arrested in Dubai
Madush and 31 others were arrested by Dubai police in February 2019 during a party. It was later reported that the Sri Lankan police had nothing to do with his arrest, although several Sri Lankan police officers went there to score points for themselves.
Among the 31 were popular Sri Lankan singer Amal Perera and his son who went to sing at the party. Madush’s wife and daughter were also present and the police had sent them home safely.
Madush and his group were arrested in Dubai and detained by the Bur Dubai Police. The police had conducted investigations under complaint number 3927/2019 and had submitted facts under 5553/2019.
Although the Sri Lankan media reported that the group was in possession of drugs, the Sri Lankan police did not reveal that any sort of drug were in their possession, and a medical examination was conducted to determine whether the group was under the influence of drugs.
However, after further investigations, on May 5, 2019, Madush was handed over to the Interpol by the State of Dubai and to the Criminal Investigation Department of Sri Lanka by the Interpol and brought to Sri Lanka. Madush has been in the custody of the CID for nearly a year and a half since then.
The law to detain a suspect for a long period of time is the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Accordingly, Madush was detained and questioned on detention orders issued by the Minister of Defense under the Anti-Terrorism Act. Detention orders were obtained in connection with the shooting of a member of the Police Narcotics Bureau in Piliyandala.
The last detention order for Madush was obtained on July 28, 2020. The detention period was scheduled to end on 28th October, 2020. Madush was handed over to the CCD on 16th October 2020 by the Acting IGP, two weeks before the detention order was due to expire.
His wife had also handed over a letter to the CCD on the advice of Madush’s lawyer, asking that the transfer of his husband from the CID to the CCD is suspicious and to prevent any threat to his life. However, Madush was assassinated last Tuesday.
Narrative by the police.
Following the murder, Senior DIG in charge of the Western Province Deshabandu Tennakoon told the media that Madush was shot dead by an underworld gang.
‘While Madush was in the custody of the CCD, he said that there were other hidden heroin stocks and that he would show the locations. Accordingly, he was allowed to make a phone call under the supervision of the police. He made a phone call under the supervision of the police and asked them to bring heroin. Then Madush too was taken to the relevant place with the police.
‘While going up the stairs to the second floor an unidentified group hiding there shot him. Madush died in the incident. Two policemen were slightly injured. The heroin was found at the place where Madush said,’ said the police.
During the news broadcast later that night, some media outlets also showed a video and there, a lot of gunshots could be heard. Despite the gunshots, Madush’s body was only hit with a single bullet. Although there were 14 policemen, they were not harmed and the 14 policemen were unable to apprehend the two alleged shooters.
Deshabndhu, Chamuditha and Shani
Chamuditha Samarawickrema, a presenter of a TV channel, had an interview with Deshabandu Tennakoon on his YouTube channel. That was a day after the assassination. In the interview, an attempt was made to convince the public that during Madush’s detention at the CID, proper investigations had not taken place.
The responsibility was burdened upon former Director of the CID Shani Abeysekara. Deshabandu Tennakoon also denied allegations that there were politicians above Madush, hidden in shadows.
During the program, various allegations were made that Madush had been kept in the CID for a year and a half, but that no proper investigation had been carried out and that Madush had made phone calls to his partner during his detention in the CID. While in custody of the CID, only a limited number of people were allowed to speak to Madush.
Among them was a woman known as the ‘casual wife’ by the police and the interviewer. She is not Madush’s mistress but his second wife. Madush and the group were arrested by the police in Dubai at the birthday party of this woman and Madush’s daughter. She had brought Madush’s child of his first marriage to Dubai and brought the child up.
The woman had visited Madush not only when he was in the custody of the CID but also after he was handed over to the Colombo Crimes Division.
Madush was brought to Sri Lanka in May 2019. The CID at the time was running after the Easter Sunday investigation. Shani Abeysekera was the Director of the CID at that time. After the November 2019 presidential election, Abeysekera was removed from the CID and SP Tilakaratne, who was on duty in the Ministerial Security Division was appointed as its director.
He served as the Director of the CID until May 2020, and in May, SP Prasanna Alwis was appointed as the Director of the CID. Until last week, Prasanna Alwis was the Director of the CID.
Madush has been under Abeysekera only for nearly five months. For the next 11 months, Madush was in the CID under two other directors.
Complaints against the assassination
Complaints have been lodged with the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, the Acting Inspector General of Police and the Bar Association of Sri Lanka regarding Madush’s murder.