Colombo: Mahinda Rajapaksa's younger brother ran “death squads” and ordered the murder of a high-profile newspaper editor, a loyalist-turned-foe of the former president has alleged, prompting a police probe. Mervyn Silva, the former minister of public relations under the Rajapaksa regime, complained to police's CID against Gotabhaya and Basil Rajapaksa, both brothers of Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Authorities are investigating a claim that Rajapaksa's brother Gotabhaya ran goon squads and ordered the 2009 murder of the editor of the Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickrematunga, police spokesman Ajith Rohana said.
Silva said he has also implicated Basil Rajapaksa, the other brother of Rajapaksa and the former economic development minister, in a number of shady deals.
Mahinda Rajapaksa's defeat in the January 8 presidential election has seen his family being reported to the police and to an anti-graft commission.
Silva said he has lodged a police complaint implicating Gotabhaya, the then powerful defence secretary, in the 2009 murder of the editor of the Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickrematunga.
“I raised all attacks against media in the recent past including Lasantha's murder,” Silva said. He blamed the Rajapaksa regime for what he termed the “white-van culture”.
Media personnel have often complained of government-backed “goon squads” coming in white-coloured vans to abduct and assault them.
The Rajapaksa government had turned a blind eye to such fears with Sri Lanka plummeting in the press freedom index due to frequent attacks on the media.
He also blamed the sons of Mahinda Rajapaksa for an assault on his son. “I know who hit my son”. Silva said he wants all complaints investigated under the new Maithripala Sirisena-led government's ‘good governance' pledge.
Mahinda Rajapaksa ruled since 2005 and is credited with ending the LTTE separatist war.
His effort to win an unprecedented third term ended in a disaster with Sirisena, a defector from his own party, toppling him with support from joint opposition, ending a ten-year rule.