Posted on May 13th, 2009

By Walter Jayawardhana

Two Sri Lanka Tamil men who fled the country five years ago to escape justice for the killing of a East Ham man have been jailed at the Old Bailey today thanks to close co-operation between the Metropolitan Police and Sri Lankan authorities, the Metropolitan Police of London said.

 Sivajodi Anantharaja, 41 years, of no fixed address, was given a life sentence with a recommendation he serve a minimum of 24 years for the murder of 26-year-old Maheswaran Kaneshan and attempted murder of another man.

 Sivapragasam Rajeskanna, 36 years, of no fixed address, was given a life sentence with a minimum tariff of 14 years for murder.


Both were unanimously found guilty yesterday (Tuesday 12 May) by an Old Bailey jury.

 Police were called just after midnight on January 12, 2004, to Heigham Road, East Ham, to reports of an injured man.

 LAS attended and Mr Kaneshan, of Heigham Rd, East Ham, was taken to hospital where he died three days later of head injuries.

 The victim had been living in the UK after applying for political asylum due to the troubles in Sri Lanka. He was single with family back in Sri Lanka and worked a variety of jobs in the UK, mainly as a cashier in petrol stations and convenience stores, to send money back home. He had been a fisherman back in Sri Lanka.

Mr Kaneshan was assaulted by a group of six to eight men, armed with hammers and sticks, who then fled the scene in two vehicles. Police recovered a cricket bat, metal bar and hammer from the area.


Mr Kaneshan was the innocent victim of gang violence. A feud between two rival gangs had resulted in an attempted murder in October 2003 in East Ham High Street of a 25-year-old Sri Lankan man who suffered severe head injuries. The suspects attended Heigham Road on the night of the murder looking for rival gang members.

 It is believed they targeted Mr Kaneshan as they mistakenly thought he was a member of the gang.

In 2004 Sivalingam Sivakuma, aged 31, a businessman of no fixed address, was convicted of the murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommendation he serve a minimum of 17 years.


But Anantharaja and Rajeskanna fled the country and returned to Sri Lanka on the day the victim died in hospital.

 They remained at large for two years until Rajeskanna was arrested after the Metropolitan Police obtained warrants and forwarded them to Sri Lanka.

Rajeskanna was found in a village north of Columbo being occupied by members of the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) and despite considerable opposition the Sri Lankan police service was able to make the arrest.

 In November 2007, Anantharaja contacted the Metropolitan Police and stated he wished to surrender but would only hand himself in due to the troubles in Sri Lanka. A detective was sent to Sri Lanka to assist the local authorities in locating and arresting him. The officer was present throughout lengthy extradition proceedings until Anantharaja and Rajeskanna eventually voluntarily agreed to return to the UK.

 Three Sri Lankan police officers travelled with Anantharaja and Rajeskanna to London where they were met by the investigating team and arrested at Heathrow.


DCI Clive Driscoll, who led the investigation, said: “This shows the commitment of the Met when dealing with gang-related violence on the streets of London – we will pursue suspects to wherever they flee and seek the assistance of the local police service to enable us to bring those suspects to the UK to stand trial.

 I cannot thank the Sri Lankan authorities enough for the assistance they have given to this investigation. Despite dealing with their own serious problems, the authorities provided a great deal of help and used their resources to assist the UK.”

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