High Court Judge Sarath Ambepitiya murder :
All five accused sentenced to death
All five accused in the Colombo High Court Judge Sarath Ambepitiya
and his bodyguard Chief Inspector Upali murder case were sentenced to
High Court Judge Sarath Ambepitiya who was slain by gunmen as he
arrived at his home on the afternoon of November 19, 2004.
The Trial-at-Bar comprising three High Court Judges, High Court Judge
Upali Abeyratne (President), High Court Judge W.A.T. Ratnayake and High
Court Judge I. M. Abeyratne, in a 248-page unanimous verdict delivered
after deliberating for five and a half hours, sentenced the accused to
death. The verdict was read without a break.
The President of the Trial-at-Bar said the prosecution had proved the
accused guilty of the murder of High Court Judge Ambepitiya and his
bodyguard Upali beyond all reasonable doubt.
The Attorney General had indicted Sujith Rohana Rupasinghe, Suminda
Nishantha, Udara Perera and Lasantha Kumara for the murder of High Court
Judge Ambepitiya and his Police Bodyguard Chief Inspector R. A. Upali in
front of the Judge's residence at Bullers Road on November 19, 2004.
They had been further indicted along with Mohammed Niyas Naufer alias
Potta Naufer for conspiring to commit the murder of the High Court Judge
and his bodyguard. This was the first time ever that a Judge has been
assassinated in Sri Lanka.
The other accused in the High Court Judge Sarath Ambepitiya and his
body guard murder being escorted to the Black Maria to be taken to
the welikada jail.
The trial was concluded about after seven months of the murder in
November 2004 and nearly three months after the commencement of the
trial on March 16, with around 41 witnesses testifying.
When the President of the Trial-at-Bar, High Court Judge Upali
Abeyratne inquired of the accused as to whether they have to say
anything before the sentence was passed on them, all five accused told
court that they were quite innocent of the crime and had no involvement
in the assassination of the High Court Judge Sarath Ambepitiya and his
The first accused Mohamed Niyas Naufer also said that the prosecution
witness Thilak gave false evidence against him.
The President of the Trial-at-Bar sentenced all the accused to death
by hanging and ordered that they be taken to the Welikada Jail and kept
their until the President gives a date to hang them.
Tight security was provided by the Special Task Force (STF) and
Police who ringed the packed court house.
Interpreter Mudliyar D.M.J. Dissanayake officiated.
Solicitor General C. R. de Silva PC, Senior State Counsel Kapila
Vidyaratne, Senior State Counsel Sarath Jayamanna, State Counsel
Haripriya Jayasundara, State Counsel Upalangani Rajapaksa and State
Counsel Dinethi Liyanage appeared for the Attorney General.
President's Counsel Thirantha Walaliyadda, Methsiri Paranavitharana,
Ravindra de Silva, Akalanka Ukwatta, Nalin Welaratne, manjula Welagedera,
Sarath Ekanayake instructed by Lakshman Perera appeared for the first
Sudath Karavita appeared for second and fourth accused. Dilshan
Fernando appeared for the third and fifth accused. Nalinda Indatissa
appeared for the third and fifth accused. Saman Wickremabandu, J.
Salvathura and K. S. Ratnavale appeared for the aggrieved party.
Nimal Muthukumarana watched the interest on behalf of the High Court
The Police team led by Colombo Crime Division Director Senior SP
Sarath Lugoda, ASPs J. R. Jayawardena, Palitha Fernando, Inspector Nuwan
Wedisinghe, OIC, CCD and the other officers who conducted the
investigations into the killing were also present in court yesterday.
Senior SP Ceaser Ranaweera, ASPs Premalal Ranagala, Indu Karunaratne,
Champika Siriwardena, Chief Inspector Cyril Wijesinghe, OIC Pettah,
Inspector W.M. Chandratilleke, OIC Keselwatta and team of Police
officers of the Keselwatta police provided security in and around the
Pictures by Mahinda Vithanachchi, Saman Sri
Wedage and Sudath Nishantha