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Eyewitnesses say Chamipika drove vehicle

Two eyewitnesses yesterday submitted two affidavits to the Police Headquarters, claiming that Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka, had driven the vehicle involved in Sunday’s accident which left two youth injured.

The injured were identified as Sandeep Gunawardena and Manul Abeysundara. Sandeep, the rider, is being treated in the intensive care unit of the National Hospital for brain injury.

The eyewitnesses, Gayashan Vinura and Mohamed Sufai, had been accompanied by their lawyers when they visited the Police Headquarters last evening to submit their affidavits, Police Spokesman ASP Ruwan Gunasekara told The Island last night.

ASP Gunasekara said that affidavits had been forwarded to Acting Inspector General of Police, S. M. Wickremasinghe, who referred them to Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police, Pujith Jayasundara.

The eye witnesses have said, in their affidavits that they mentioned in their complaint to the Welikada police that Minister Champika had driven the vehicle that knocked down Manul and Sandeep. The policeman took down their complaint in a small book and got them to place their signatures thereon, they have said, adding that they were not allowed to read their statement. They have said they were kept waiting for about one hour from 11.45 p.m. by the policeman who claimed the traffic police personnel were not available. While they were waiting, the jeep involved in the accident, bearing registration no: KT 7545 was brought to the police station by some policemen, the eyewitnesses have said.

The eyewitnesses have said they, together with Manul and Sandeep, Varuna and Kamil went for a motor show at the BMICH and had dinner around 10.00 p.m. They were proceeding on their motorcycle towards Rajagiriya.

Manul and Sandeep riding together and only one of their motorcycles had engine capacity of 1000 CC and others had capacities ranging between 100-250 CC, the affidavits say. All the motorcycles had valid revenue licenses. While they were proceeding towards Rajagiriya on the Parliament Road, the motorcycle ridden by Sandeep knocked against a jeep. The eyewitnesses were riding behind that motorcycle. Manul, the pillion rider, fell on to the road and Sandeep’s head hit the jeep which moved forward and stopped near Sarana Road. Manul got up after a while, but Sandeep remained motionless. The eyewitness kept calling Sandeep, who did not respond.

A large number of people gathered at the scene of the accident. A passing vehicle stopped to help the victims. Meanwhile, the person in the jeep, who had been looking at the scene, sped away. The people shouted that he was fleeing. The witnesses got on to one motorcycle and gave the chase. They managed to obstruct the path of the jeep opposite Global Jobs Institute. But, the jeep continued to move and they had to swerve the motorcycle and got on to the pavement to avoid another accident. At that point Gayashan got off the motorcycle and opened the door of the jeep, demanding to know why the vehicle had not stopped after the accident. The driver, wearing sunglasses though it was night said: "It was my fault, don’t assault me. I am Champika Ranawaka, a minister."

Gayashan has said in his affidavit that he identified Champika Ranawaka, who refused to hand over his identity card. Instead he had asked Gayashan and Sufai to get into the jeep. They were hesitant to do so because the vehicle had dark glasses. All of a sudden, the jeep moved forward with one door still open. The witnesses took down the number and returned to the scene of the accident, where some people said Champika frequently visited the area. The injured had been taken to the hospital by that time.

The witnesses first went to the Kalubowila hospital thinking that the injured had been taken there. Subsequently, they went to the National Hospital, where the victims were being treated. Thereafter they went to the Welikada police station with some friends around 11.45 p.m.

Mohammed Sufai has said that he heard the driver of the jeep say: "It was my fault, don’t assault me. I am Champika Ranawaka, a minister." He has said he subsequently identified the driver as Champika Ranawaka.