The horrors of Dankotuwa unfold as police arrest five
|The burnt van
in which the five charred bodies were found Pix: Prasad
|Three of the
five suspects being taken into custody
The five charred bodies found in a burnt van in an isolated location
in Buthgampola, Koshinna in Dankotuwa on March 11, put the country in
yet another dilemma, at a time when law enforcement authorities were
making an all-out effort to stem the rising crime rate.
Since this particular crime scene had a different dimension, compared
to the shooting incidents in the past few weeks, the IGP handed over the
case to the CID.
Despite the bodies found in the charred van being burnt beyond
recognition, the police had some clues to dig deeper into the incident
and unravel the horror behind it. According to the police officers who
investigated the incident, the manner in which the bodies were found in
the van, inferred that the victims had been brought in the van, after
they were killed at another spot. The perpetrators had then fled the
area after setting the van alight.
Following the Magistrate’s visit, the bodies were kept at the Negombo
General Hospital morgue for identification.
Though the bodies were charred beyond recognition, crucial evidence -
the registration number of the van WP PH -1080 a Toyota KDH type helped
the police to unravel the mystery. When the news about the murder
spread, the police received information that a van similar to the burnt
van in Dankotuwa had been seen at a residence in Asirigima, Gonawila on
March 9, a day before it was found with the charred bodies.According to
police investigations, the van was originally owned by a woman named
Mallika and was given to a finance company to seize vehicles which
defaulted leasing payments to the company. The finance company had in
turn given the vehicle over to Kapila Samantha Bandara alias ‘Navy’
Kapila, a resident of Pannala, Gonawila who had been deployed by the
finance company to seize vehicles which defaulted instalment payments.
Police conducting investigations on the incident based on eye-witness
accounts and also analysing the telephone numbers used by ‘Navy’ Kapila
on a previous occasion had found that the vehicle had been parked at the
residence of Manoj Amila Nuwan Almeida at 119, Asirigama, Gonawila.
Though the police felt it would take days to uncover the story behind
the charred van, they unravelled the mystery in two to three days, after
the incident was reported to the police.
The suspect, where the van was reportedly parked on the evening of
March 9 was taken in for questioning and he unfolded the story behind
Manoj Amila Nuwan Almeida, a young father of two children, had earned
his living by providing boiler contracts to a factory in Makandura.
Though he earned an adequate income from the business, he had to meet
extortion demands of notorious gangs in the area to run his business
‘Navy’ Kapila had demanded a ransom from him and he had given “Navy’
Kapila money on two occasions. On March 9, too ‘Navy’ Kapila had
demanded money from Amila and told him that they would come to his
residence to collect the money.
As he could not evade ‘Navy’ Kapila, according to a statement he had
given to the police, Amila had invited them to his residence for a drink
and asked them to bring some bites to enjoy the drink. ‘Navy’ Kapila
along with four others arrived in his van and had partaken in the
‘Navy’ Kapila had told ‘Three- wheel Ranji’ to bring fried rice and
cigarettes. ‘Three wheel Ranji’ also had eaten some of the food and had
liquor. ‘Navy’ Kapila had then asked for ransom money from Amila and had
told him that someone was bringing the money to a location close to the
Makandura weekly fair premises and that he would hand over that money to
After consuming three bottles of alcohol and having dinner, Amila had
asked ‘Navy’ Kapila and his friends to go to Makandura in their van
saying that he would come on his bicycle. Krishnaratne alias Sooppuwa
had driven the van from Amila’s residence to Makandura.
At the Makandura weekly fair, Amila had asked ‘Navy’ Kapila to come
right in to the fair and then assaulted him with a club and stabbed him
with a knife. After attacking ‘Navy’ Kapila, Amila had gone back to the
van and asked one of the four people in the van to come with him to see
Navy Kapila, and Amila then assaulted this man as well and stabbed him
with a knife. In a similar manner, Amila had assaulted all four of them
and had later asked four of his friends to take the five bodies away
from the scene.
Police conducting investigations found CCTV footage where the van
along with two motorcycles were plying on the road on two occasions -
around 1 am and 1.45 am. The suspects told the police they had gone to
the spot earlier to see whether it was safe.
Amila and his friends had put the bodies of the victims into the van
and driven it towards the location they had selected. Amila had driven
the van, while the other two motorcycles followed it.
At this isolated spot, they had taken petrol from one of the
motorcycles and poured it over the van and set it alight and left the
spot the moment the van caught fire.
A CID team led by ASP Samantha Wijesekara and IP Wijethunga arrested
Manoj Amila and his four friends who helped him to take the five bodies
and set them ablaze.
It has been confirmed that ‘Navy’ Kapila, a notorious person in
Pannala, Mohamed Rafik Nauzad Khan alias Neina and Sanjaya Krishantha
alias Soopuwa were among those who had been killed.
Investigations were now on to identify the other two victims believed
to be friends of ‘Navy’ Kapila who were also killed.
Police arrested five suspects Manoj Amila and four of his friends
Neomal Krishantha Fernando, Rasika Pradeep, Saman Kumara and Suneth
Madhusanka and produced them before the Marawila Magistrate’s Courts.
They are now in remand custody.
The CID team led by ASP Samantha Wijesekara, IP Wijethunga, CI
Wasantha Ratnayake, SI Thusitha Kumara, Sergeants Medgama and
Amarasinghe and PCs Gunaratnbe, Gunawardena and Range Bandara are
conducting further investigations.