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Government Files Charges Against Ex-Policeman, Newspaper Editor

April 9, 1992

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ The attorney general filed charges against a former senior police officer Thursday who claimed knowledge of 1,079 political killings by government- backed death squads.

Charges also were filed against the editor of a left-wing newspaper that on Wednesday published a list of victims allegedly killed by the death squads, known as Black Cats.

The attorney general’s office accused Premadasa Udugampola, a former police deputy inspector general, and Lokubanda Wanigasekera, editor of the biweekly Sinhalese Aththa newspaper, of causing hostilities, ill will and hatred and contempt of the government.

Earlier Thursday, opposition leaders produced sworn statements from Udugampola on the death squads. The statements also alleged that the government rigged parliamentary and presidential elections.

The allegations concerned 1988 and 1989, when the government of President Ranasinghe Premadasa was fighting a radical Sinhalese rebellion in southern Sri Lanka. The government has denied Udugampola’s charges.

″All these revelations go to the root of the questions of the preservation of human rights and democratic rights of the country,″ said former Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike, leader of the opposition Sri Lanka Freedom Party.

Udugampola headed the Bureau of Special Operations and was instrumental in the crackdown on the Sinhalese insurgents. He was forced to retire in January following accusations of human rights excesses by Sri Lankan and international organizations.

Udugampola has been subpoenaed in a new investigation into the death of a right-wing lawyer in police custody three years ago.

In his affidavits, he claimed he was dismissed because he discovered senior police officers received kickbacks from illegal casino operations that also involved politicians.

He also claimed Premadasa, the president, had blocked investigations into the 1991 killing of Deputy Defense Minister Ranjan Wijeratne, who supported him in fighting the casinos.

Wijeratne was killed in a car bomb explosion in Colombo that was attributed to Tamil Tiger guerrillas waging an independence war in the north and east.

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