A top Sri Lankan prison official was arrested today in connection with the shooting during a riot by prisoners inside the high-security Welikada jail here in which 27 inmates were killed, police said.
Twenty-seven prisoners were killed and 20 others and a jail official injured, after armed troops opened fire on the inmates when a riot broke out in Sri Lanka’s largest and most crowded prison on November 9, 2012.
The riot occurred when prisoners took control of the jail after objecting to a search by the Special Task Force who entered the prison to find hidden arms, drugs and mobile phones on the premises.
Commissioner of Prisons in charge of rehabilitation Emil Ranjan Lamahewa, who was the prison superintendent at the time of the incident, was arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), they said.
Lamahewa’s arrested came after a top policeman, in charge of narcotics, was held yesterday in the same incident.
The killings escalated international condemnation of the then Sri Lankan President Manhinda Rajapakse, whose regime had sanctions imposed for rights abuses in the final years of the country’s 37-year-long ethnic war that ended in 2009.
With the change of government in 2015, a probe committee was appointed. The case was reopened in July last year following media reports that the killings were ordered by senior members of the former regime.
The government was accused of going slow on the recommendations and making arrests.
The 2012 riot was the worst prison violence since 50 inmates were hacked to death in a July 1983 riot.