Retired Prisons Additional Director V.K. Kudabandara testifying as the second witness before the three-Judge Bench of the Colombo High Court in the case related to the deaths of eight inmates during the Welikada Prison riots in 2012, said he had witnessed that a few of the inmates had been called by name before being taken away.
The case was taken up before Judges Gihan Kulathunga, Pradeep Hettiarachchi and Manjula Thilakaratna.
Kudabandara told Court that following the exchange of fire between Special Task Force (STF) officers and prison inmates, he had taken into his custody 28 firearms that had been in the possession of the inmates and had hidden them.
Witness told Court that later, Army soldiers had entered the Prison and he had handed over the hidden weapons to the soldiers.
He said, he had left as the situation had returned to normal following the clashes. The witness said that on arriving outside the premises, he saw that the Prison building was badly damaged due to the exchange of fire between the STF personnel and inmates.
Kudabandara said that on coming out of the Prison, he had proceeded along Baseline Road and on turning back to head to the Prison, he had seen that the first accused in the case, Inspector of Police, Neomal Rangajeewa of the Police Narcotics Bureau and three other persons clad in civvies also heading in the direction of the Prison.
He then told Court that he had identified the first accused Rangajeewa and he was clad in a blue coloured pair of shorts and a yellow coloured Tee-shirt and was carrying a torch.
Witness told Court that a group of inmates who had been brought under control had been kept kneeling by the soldiers at the Chapel Building of the Prison.
Kudabandara then told Court that Rangajeewa had then gone towards some of the inmates who were kept kneeling and flashed the torch on their faces, calling out the names of firstly Kapila, secondly Marlon and thirdly Manju Sri, before taking them away.
Witness told Court that on the following morning, he had seen the three prisoners dead after being shot at.
He then said, when he was going about his work at the Prison, he had seen the second and third suspects in the case, former Prisons Commissioner, Emil Ranjan Lamahewa and former Prisons Department officer, Indika Sampath being present together and that they had even spoken to him as well.
Kudabandara also told Court that two Army officers had arrived and had inquired from him as to where inmates ‘Ukkuwa’ and ‘Shiyam’ were and that he had told them that they were currently not in Prison.
Kudabandara told Court that when he and Prisons Commissioner General Kodippili were heading towards the Prisons administrative building, he had seen Army officers taking away inmate Kalu Thushara.
He informed Court that at that point he had heard cries raised by Kalu Thushara to save him saying he had not committed any crime.
Kudabandara then told Court that the inmate had been taken to a building and that at that very moment, he had heard the sounds of two gun shots and that he could remember Kodippili who was by him saying Kalu Thushara was also now finished.
He then told Court that he was facing mental agony while giving testimony in Court.
Further hearing was fixed for tomorrow (18) and Kudabandara was noticed to appear again in Court to give further testimony on that date.
The Attorney General indicted Rangajeewa and two others over the killing of eight prison inmates during the riots that took place at the Welikada Prison premises on 2012.