Sri Lanka’s now-former president held a grand banquet at the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo last week, as he celebrated his the end of his tenure with those accused of crimes.
Amongst those present were Shavendra Silva, head of Sri Lanka’s army and former commander in charge of Sri Lanka’s notorious 58 Division. The unit has been accused of repeatedly bombing hospitals, widespread sexual violence, torture and Silva personally stands accused of overseeing crimes including the execution of Tamils in 2009.
Admiral Ravindra C. Wijegunaratne, Sri Lanka’s Chief of Defence Staff, accused of aiding a key suspect involved in the abduction and murder of 11 Tamil youths, was also present at the dinner.
Wijegunaratne was released on bail by a Sri Lankan court in December, after he was accused of helping the main suspect accused of conducting the disappearances in 2008 evade arrest. During his hearing, journalists were attacked outside the court. Sri Lanka’s Criminal Investigation Department also reported that the admiral had attempted to shoot and abduct a key witness who had previously testified against him and reportedly tried to get lead investigator Inspector Nishantha Silva removed from the case.
According to an official Sri Lankan military website,
President Sirisena in his address acknowledged the support extended to him by tri service members all the time and wished them good luck with their future undertakings.
A video documentary that highlighted the President’s milestone achievements as well as his service to the armed forces was also screened during the ceremony.