Kuruwita Prisons is located in a somewhat desolate location off the
Kuruwita town about 3 kilometres from the Colombo-Ratnapura main road.
Several die-hard type hardcore prisoners are periodically brought there
from other Prisons to enable Prisons authorities to produce them in
courts at Ratnapura and Kegalle districts for various crimes they had
According to Assistant Superintendent of Kuruwita Prisons R.
Jayasuriya about 900 prisoners housed at Kuruwita were hard core
criminals who had committed serious crimes in Ratnapura and Kegalle
jurisdictions. Last week everything seemed to be normal at the Kuruwita
The Prisoners too went about attending to their daily chores as if
nothing was going to happen. There wasnít any inkling whatsoever that a
plan was being hatched by hard-core prisoners serving long term jail
sentences to free themselves.
A few hardcore chaps in the meantime planned meticulously the
impending prison break. They were well aware that they were to be taken
out from the prison last week to the Avissawella and the Ruwanwella
Just one month prior to the daring Prison break, the hard core
prisoners who gathered at the prison corridors and in their recreation
halls discussed secretly about their plan.
Their modus operandi was to free themselves from the shackles while
they were being brought back to the Kuruwita Prisons, overpower Prison
officials and escape with their firearms.
The desire to escape was tempered by their long incarceration in the
Prisons. They were a bunch of desperate men hell bent on committing
serious crime that made them, rich. The hardcore men kept the plan as a
top secret until April Foolís Day last week.
The unsuspecting Prison officials on the day of the incident armed
with firearms escorted around 40 hardcore prisoners to the Magistrate
and High courts at Avissawella and to Ruwanwella.
The operation went smoothly without a snag until they were brought
back to the Kuruwita prison when the real drama unfolded. While chained
prisoners were being re-admitted to the Kuruwita prison hell broke loose
all of a sudden.
Three hardcore prisoners who rid themselves of the iron shackles
freed themselves, according to Prison authorities. While all this was
happening a prisoner who had a hand grenade threatened to blow up a
Prison officer carrying a gun, insisting that he surrenders the weapon.
Fearing for his life and the safety of others he threw away his
firearm to the ground in defiance.
Meanwhile other prisoners freed themselves and stormed the Prison
armoury. They broke the armoury door by beating it with prison batons
and removed a T-56 firearm, a .38 Repeater Gun with ammunition and was
about to escape from the main front door when they were confronted by
Eight hardcore prisoners who came out through the main entrance was
about to fire at Prison officers when the latter opened fire killing
five Prisoners. In the meantime three Prisoners managed to escape with
some firearms. Later on a tip off, several Prison officers combed a
jungle in the vicinity of the Prison and traced a hardcore prisoner with
a firearm. According to Prison sources the prisoner was about to fire at
the officers when they retaliated by shooting him dead, thus ending a
worst showdown between prisoners and Prison officials in recent times.
The six bodies of the Prisoners were sent to the Ratnapura hospital
morgue. Meanwhile SSP Ratnapura Division Kithsiri Ganegama had
despatched a police party to arrest other prisoners who escaped from
This wasnít the first occasion where prisoners had escaped from
custody. A notorious prisoner named Sambaba who was shot dead by the
police recently escaped from prison custody one year ago when brought
before the Panadura Magistrate court.
A few years ago at the Embilipitiya Magistrate Courts a Prison
officer along with three persons died while 36 persons were injured when
somebody threw a hand grenade at the Prison cell.
Notorious criminals like Army -Suranga and others were brought there
to testify before Embilipitiya Magistrate. Army-Suranga and 24 other
hardcore criminals escaped from Prison custody.
Following the jail break, police launched a country wide man hunt for
the arrest of the criminals. Later some were tracked down by the police
and were shot dead in confrontations.