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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2614

Ven. Gangodawila Soma Thero Remembered: Mystery shrouds his death yet to unravel

By Ven. Maharagama Dhammasiri Thero - Washington Viharadipathi Director/ Dharmayatanaya, Maharagama

The demise of the late Ven. Gangodawila Soma Thero occurred in December 2003, in Russia in a mysterious manner. It is still a mystery to the people of Sri Lanka, especially to those who associated him very closely. The purpose of writing this is to let our readers know that we may forgive but will never forget this crime against the Buddha Sasana.Ven. Gangodawila Soma TheroVen. Gangodawila Soma Thero

5 years have passed since this tragedy, and we continue to see those evil forces responsible for this tragedy, active again surreptitiously behind an important temple and a Seela program planned for tomorrow – the 12th of December, the 5th death anniversary.

The special Presidential Commission appointed to inquire and investigate into this tragedy concluded in their report the following main points;

• that, Ven. Gangodawila Soma Thero was duped into visiting Russia at the invitation of one Reverend S.P.J., Professor of a bogus International University of Fundamental Studies to award a Doctorate offered by Christian Fundamentalists to subsequently damage Soma Thero’s reputation and to ridicule him,

• that, Ven. Soma Thero on his way to Moscow on October 11th 2003 suffered a heart attack, and the Rev. S.P.J. who met Soma Thero at Moscow Airport took him on a further 5 hour flight to St. Petersburg, another 700 miles away without any medical attention despite Soma Thero complaining of severe chest pain, and pleading for help. The Commission also concluded that the perpetrators plotted over and above the above mentioned coup to craftily and systematically avoid administering proper medical care and treatment, to let Ven. Soma Thero face death; describing it as “Criminal Negligence” on the part of the perpetrators.

The purpose of Ven. Gangodawila Soma Thero’s visit to Russia was to receive a Doctorate and Professorship from the International University of Fundamental Studies (The commission investigated and concluded there was no such recognized, legal University) in Saint Petersburg, Russia on the invitation of the Founder and rector Rev. S.P.J. We understand that Soma Thero had also been promised assistance for a health project amounting to millions of Rupees to be arranged from the USA to build a hospital in Sri Lanka.

The Doctorate which was to be conferred on him for the book titled “Buddha Stupa” is not really a research work, but written only in Sinhala, and neither translated into English or Russian language.

The person who invited Soma Thero had previously obtained a copy of this book when he made a visit to the Dharmayatanaya, Maharagama, from a Buddhist monk who worked for Soma Thero. But the “Reverend S.P.J.” had not met Soma Thero on this visit. (Ven. Soma Thero was not aware that this person was a Fundamentalist Christian Reverend, with a Theologian Degree).

All arrangements from the invitation to the preparation of the journey were made by the then Editor of Soma Thero’s Janavijaya paper, and more significantly the brother of this Reverend, S.J.

The person who invited Soma Thero to visit Russia was said to be a Russian underworld figure, and racketeer. On a previous visit to Sri Lanka, he had purchased and shipped spices worth of US$ 50,000/-, but defaulted on payment. He had been engaged in getting students from Sri Lanka promising places in Universities in Russia, but had offered places only in Technical Colleges. His brother in Sri Lanka too had been an agent of his business in Colombo and had been sought by the Police for questioning. However he had managed to get to Russia and changed his name in St. Petersburg to hide his real identity and had lived there since.

He was also said to have controlled the Sri Lanka Embassy staff in Moscow and was a part of the Russian mafia. When the President’s Office had made a request to the Russian Defense Ministry, to have Soma Thero’s body flown without holding a post mortem in Russia, this Reverend had tried to prevent the body being taken away without a post mortem. This resulted in a delay as an earlier flight out of Russia was missed.

The Editor at the time of Soma Thero’s Janavijaya newspaper admitted to the officers of the Sasana Sevaka Samithiya that he had arranged for Soma Thero to proceed to Russia. While purporting to be a good Buddhist, he had told the Thero that his brother too was Buddhist. But on December 12th 2003, when confronted, he had confessed that his brother lived in Russia for 21 years, married to a Russian Christian and became a Christian. When questioned how he had become a Reverend, this person did not answer.

The Editor of Janavijaya paper had been introduced to Soma Thero by the former Secretary of Janavijaya. He had earlier worked for a Certain Newspaper and according to the former Secretary of Janavijaya the Editor was disillusioned with a Business Tycoon in Sri Lanka as the latter had asked a Buddhist who came to him for financial assistance to convert to his faith. He had always shown off as a good Buddhist, especially to Soma Thero.

It is quite evident that Ven. Soma Thero, a dedicated fighter against “immoral and illegal conversions of Buddhists”, a fearless critic against alcohol consumption and smoking etc. had been carefully tricked with an invitation to Russia by these two brothers (Rev. S.P.J. & S.J. having carefully concealed their background), to confer a Doctorate in Russia on a book written in Sinhala, on the initiative of Reverend’s own International University of Fundamental Studies, which they had indicated to be affiliated to the Oxford University in UK.

The former Janavijaya Secretary mentioned that according to a Sil Meni on the instructions of Soma Thero, a total sum of Rs. 2,000,000/- or equivalent of US$20,000 at 3 different intervals was remitted to Rev. S.P.J. He said that Sri Lanka rupees 600,000/- to the personal account of him on 2 occasions totaling Rs. 1,200,000/- and Rs. 800,000/- were paid to Soma Thero, which according to Soma Thero had been handed over to the Rev. S.P.J. This money had been sent for a By-pass surgery. US$ 10,000 had been requested from Buddhists living in Australia, but on identifying who this was, this did not go through. The Buddhists living in Moscow had also handed over 167,773 Rubles (SL Ambassador’s email) on December 6th to Soma Thero, and that too had been handed over to the Reverend. No decision was made during this period to do By-pass surgery, even though Cardiologists in Sri Lanka were of the opinion that this should have been done to save the Thero’s life. US$ 4,500 had been paid by the President’s Fund to meet expenses regarding the return of the remains to Sri Lanka. No By-Pass surgery was ever done, and the large sums of money remitted were never returned.

According to the Ambassador’s email and the press interview made by the Editor of Janavijaya, Soma Thero had been re-admitted to hospital on December 3rd to treat Angina. He appeared to have been removed to the Sanatorium on December 4th, despite the illness to offer the Award, about which the Cardiologists in Sri Lanka were dismayed. The Bed Head Ticket however does not show any entry with regard to Soma Thero leaving the Ward on the 4th or re-entering. The authenticity and factuality of the BHT too therefore is in doubt.

The Web pictures too were confusing. The background of the pictures was one of a class room setting, and there was a Church of God Bishop too receiving an Award in the same Auditorium with the same background. When questioned whether the stress due to the embarrassment caused to Soma Thero, in this scenario would have been adequate to have another heart attack, the Sri Lankan Cardiologists answered in the affirmative.

The Doctors had met on the 8th of December to decide on By-pass surgery, but no decision had been made, as stated in the BHT. It appeared that the decision of doctors to perform a By-pass surgery was being dragged on, on account of Soma Thero’s diabetic condition. The BHT indicated good control of blood sugar levels with insulin therapy from 20th October onwards to 10th November and then to 3rd December while he was at the Sanatorium. On 3rd December, the Thero was re-admitted to the Cardiology Unit to treat on Angina while walking, but there was no evidence of fresh problems caused due to diabetes. The Professor and Chief of Cardio Surgery had seen him to decide on a date for surgery, but no decision was made.

On December 4th a Doctorate was awarded in the company of Fundamentalist Priests, but not mentioned in the BHT of leaving the ward. On 5th the condition was stable. December 6th, 7th and 8th, improved, rare episodes of Angina, stable condition, blood sugar within normal range and the BHT stated since patient was stable, not necessary to perform an urgent surgery. Advised to assess kidney function, but nothing scheduled for the next 3 days. On 9th and 10th systems including blood sugar were normal. On the 11th of December, the BHT indicated diabetic control with insulin, possible risk of renal failure. But there was no decision to perform a surgery, though he was seen by the Chief Surgeon on December 3rd. from the 3rd to 11th nothing new had been done to justify the delay or anything good achieved by waiting and dragging on, other than the ultimate disaster. Next morning Soma Thero passed away. (Perhaps allowed to die by prolonging what should have been done much earlier – a By Pass).

The Janavijaya newspaper Editor giving an interview to Electronic Media stated that a second operation was performed. This is not true. Even if he meant that they had planned to do the surgery that too was incorrect according to the BHT. Ven. Soma Thero passed away on the morning of 12th December at 8.00 a.m., he had a blood clot causing another attack at 6.15 a.m. that morning, and it is not clear as to how resuscitation took place within this 1 hour and 45 minutes, and whether the correct procedures were carried out or correct drugs had been given on time to prevent clotting. This is the opinion of the Sri Lankan cardiologists Athukorala and Senaratne.

Ven. Soma Thero had the heart attack before landing in Moscow on the 11th of October and it should have been attended to by taking him to a hospital in Moscow. In spite of Soma Thero’s complaints of severe pains, the Reverend had made Soma Thero to fly another 700 miles, about 5 more hours without any treatment. Soma Thero was taken to Reverend’s house in St. Petersburg with further severe pains, and only taken to hospital by the Para-medics thereafter. As a result of this delay by taking him from Moscow to St. Petersburg, there could have been severe damage to the heart and the Angioplasty would have been done too late to rectify the damage; another heart attack would have been imminent.

The reverend’s behaviour certainly creates serious doubt as he had always put off things; this lapse shows negligence on his part. Why did he take Soma Thero from Moscow to St. Petersburg delaying treatment? This is un-pardonable. By-pass surgery had always been a necessity according to the BHT, but no decisions have been made; postponed several times. Money could not have been the reason for the delay as a total of US$ 37,000/- was available. In addition withdrawals from Soma Thero’s Credit Card too had been made stating that they were utilized to pay his hospital bills. Rubles worth of Rs. 943,000/- had been withdrawn from the credit card. Rubles worth of 12,000/- had been withdrawn for purchase of petrol. Who made these withdrawals when Soma Thero was in hospital? Was this Reverend in the possession of Soma Thero’s credit card and the Personal Identification Number? Ven. Soma Thero appeared to have taken it with a smile as a good monk who would with metta and upekka, showing no anger, aversion or hatred.

In addition to this when Soma Thero was in Russia, the former Secretary of Janavijaya had withdrawn large amounts of money from Janavijaya Account, but there is evidence that this money had not been sent there.

The Commission public hearings revealed a Fundamental Christian Organization involved in illegal propagation and conversion methods had a programme in operation in 2003 to study and methodically destroy certain prominent Buddhists. This list included of Ven. Soma Thero’s name amongst others with amounts of expenditures and methods planned indicating unlimited funds to achieve its goals, and some instances of how and to whom funds had been disbursed. This type of programme could have easily motivated personalities such as the said Brothers and explain their actions. An underworld figure (verifiable by past Moscow Embassy staff and sufficiently substantiated therein) is capable of manipulations and fabrications to achieve his objectives by this type of approach, methodology and actions; and be secretly rewarded for the results produced.

Now the group who did their part in the destruction of Soma Thero has now started to assassinate him for the second time. On the 12th of December this year on which day the 5th death anniversary of Soma Thero falls, they are planning to make public a piece of paper calling it Soma Thero’s Last Will. What is this Last Will? Is it an authentic document in its original form and properly notorised?

When Soma Thero’s body flew to Sri Lanka, along with it a suitcase and some old robes were sent across. When we inquired through the Sri Lanka Embassy in Moscow about the other belongings of Soma Thero, we were informed that there was nothing which meant that the Reverend had robbed all the valuables in Soma Thero’s possession, including a digital camara.

However after several months since his demise we received a photo copy of a “Last Will” said to have been written by Soma Thero. It had been proved to be a faked Last Will.

Janavijaya is an organization, a separate legal entity, run by its trustees. No faked Last Will of Soma Thero using new technology can bring about its destruction.

The other funny thing about this Last Will, before Soma Thero’s signature, “Poojaya” is denoted. No Buddhist Monk uses Poojay before signing his name. Soma Thero too never used “Poojya” when he signed a document. The normal practice is to just sign one’s name. A stupid lapse on the part of the culprits.

Finally a document to be legal should have been signed in the presence of an Attorney-at Law, properly notarized and registered.

These facts suggest that these perpetrators are still working hard to kill the Janavijaya Foundation, which continues Ven. Soma Thero’s legacy, for which he sacrificed his life.

Perhaps His Excellency the President should put an end to all this by making an order to proceed on the findings of the special Presidential Commission and bring these perpetrators before the Law.

- Asian Tribune -

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