Rajapaksa crimes investigator flees from death threats

Nishantha Silva has reportedly sought political asylum in Switzerland, via Singapore. The official led the investigation into the murder of a Christian journalist who criticized Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Colombo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The head of the Sri Lanka organized crime investigation unit, Nishantha Silva, has fled abroad, and is seeking political asylum in Switzerland. The official reported that he received death threats against him and his family immediately after the election of new president Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The investigator is one of the highest officials in the country's public administration and was investigating the crimes committed in the decade in which the dictator Mahinda, brother of the current head of state, held power.

According to police sources, Silva left home two days ago, without informing his superiors of the Criminal Investigation Department. Among the most important cases he was investigating, there is the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge, the Christian journalist massacred 10 years ago in broad daylight in Colombo.

The victim’s family has always held Mahinda Rajapaksa responsible for his assassination given that the journalist was fearlessly critical of the then president. In addition to the journalist, Silva was investigating the kidnapping and killing of 11 young people in Colombo between 2008 and 2009, and at least 69 crimes committed by Tamil Tigers guerrillas.

The investigator had ended up under the ax of the Rajapaksa brothers already in 2018, when during the government crisis the former president Maithripala Sirisena called Mahinda back to power, appointing him prime minister. At that time, Silva was removed from office, and then reassigned to head the Anti-Crime Unit when the Constitutional Court ended the political impasse.

The investigator would have reached Europe via Singapore. Local sources report that he feared for his life after the election of Gotabaya as head of the country. On 21 November, the latter also appointed his brother Mahinda to the post of prime minister, after the resignation of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who decided to step aside because of the bitter electoral defeat.