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Last updated: 17 December, 2007 - Published 14:55 GMT
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Killing MP: Minister's son released
Minister Ratnathilake (L) is a suspect on the murder case
Textile minister who recently joined the Govt. is a suspect of the murder case
The judiciary in Sri Lanka has released four suspects including a son of a minister on charges of murdering a parliamentarian and a policeman.

Ratnapura magistrate and additional District Judge MMM Nihal released the suspects on the instructions of the Attorney General (AG).

Released suspects; Viraj Ratnathilake, Pujitha Saman Kumara, IK Kularatne, Nimal Dayawansa and seven others were accused of killing ruling party legislator Nalanda Ellawala on or around 11 February 1997.

Suspects cross over

Viraj is the son of Textile minister Mahinda Ratnathilake who crossed over to the government just before the vote for second reading of the budget proposals.

Justice minister Dilan Perera, who was at the scene of the killing, strongly protested Ratnathilake's joining the government.

Suspects to be charged
Minister Susantha Punchinilame
Minister Mahinda Ratnathilake
KA Punyapala
Sarath Kumara Weerasekara
W Wickramasinghe Perera
RA Upali

Two of the other released suspects are also regional politicians.

Young Ellawala, the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) parliamentarian, and police constable TM Jayasena were shot dead in the shooting in Kuruvita town, near Ratnapura.

Police constable Upali Sirisoma sustained injuries at the incident.

The AG has instructed the police to charge sheet six other suspects including two ministers in the High Court.

Fire destroys evidence

Minister Ratnathilake, Nation Building minister Susantha Punchinilame, KA Punyapala, Sarath Kumara Weerasekara, W Wickramasinghe Perera and RA Upali are to be charged in the High Court.

Released suspects
Viraj Ratnathilake
Pujitha Sanath Kumara
IK Kularatna
Nimal Dayawansa

Minister Piunchinilame earlier crossed over to the Rajapaksa administration from the main opposition, United National Party (UNP).

The court was informed that another suspect, Thomas Susai Gnanasundaram has passed away.

Three magistrates have been hearing the murder case over ten years in the Ratnapura magistrates court.

Many documents and material evidence related to the case were destroyed due to a fire erupted in the library of the magistrates court.

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