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Archive for September 8th, 2004

The mysterious yet gruesomekilling of seven Tiger cadres – four of them disabled – by a group of “unknown” assassins on the night of Sunday, April 25 in Batticaloa has received widespread condemnation.

Though a concerted campaign is on to pin the blame on the renegade Tiger faction led by former LTTE eastern commander Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna for these killings, the LTTE is not rushing to do so.

While the Tigers have not ruled out the involvement of cadres belonging to Karuna’s group in the killing, the LTTE is looking at other possible alternatives too instead of buying the glib explanation trotted out by interested parties.

One line of thought is that the killing could be the work of other ex-militant Tamil groups functioning as para-militaries in the east under army auspices. The other of course is that remnants of Karuna’s forces now under army protection could have done so. The third is that it was a combined operation undertaken by erstwhile Karuna followers, ex – militant cadres and military intelligence operatives.

The perpetrators of these killings are only perceived as ‘instruments.’ The sinister hand of the army, presumably its military intelligence division, is suspected to be behind the crime.

The LTTE cancelled a scheduled meeting between the military top brass and the eastern Tiger hierarchy led by Karuna’s successor Col. Ramesh Thambirajah on April 28th night.

Detailed complaint

Instead a detailed complaint was provided to Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) Head Gen. Trond Furuhovde by LTTE political wing chief S.P. Tamilselvan at a meeting held on April 29 at Kilinochchi.

Though the LTTE was unable to pinpoint the culprits specifically, the Tigers were able to convey their seemingly well-founded suspicions.

Apart from asking the SLMM to take up this issue in detail with the government, the LTTE also promised to provide the monitors with all updated information on the subject as and when they get them. Apparently a team of LTTE intelligence operatives is currently engaged in unravelling the mystery behind the killings.

Even before meeting the SLMM Chief, Tamilselvan had written to him complaining about the incident and describing it as a ceasefire violation.

There is a contradiction here. When the LTTE launched a full scale attack on Karuna and his followers several ceasefire provisions were violated in letter and spirit.

Around 175 of Karuna’s cadres were massacred in Verugal, Vaaharai, Kattumurivukkulam and Kathiravely.

Around 90 Tigers who fought on the side of Karuna and later surrendered to the LTTE have been taken to the Wanni for intensive interrogation by Pottu Amman’s intelligence wing. Five of these were senior deputies of Karuna.

The LTTE is also engaged in a massive campaign to compel ex-Karuna cadres to re-join the movement.

A witch hunt has also been launched to arrest those civilians supporting Karuna and indulging in acts like burning effigies and destroying pictures etc.

The SLMM that kept mum and accepted the LTTE version that the Karuna affair was an internal matter not concerning the monitors at the time of conflict is keeping quiet even now about those matters.

A different set of standards however for the seven LTTE cadreskilled by unknown persons. There is no doubt that the killings were horrible and the perpetrators deserve punishment.

It is the SLMM attitude that is hypocritical. Any complaint by the LTTE is given full attention. Any complaint against the LTTE is neglected. The LTTE is to be kept happy no matter what the cost.

In the perennial struggle between the powerful and the powerless there is no doubt as to which side of the battle lines the monitors are on. This stems not because of the fault of the individual monitors themselves but due to a fundamental conflict of interests facing Oslo the mediator and Oslo the monitor.

The contrasting response of the SLMM to these killings and towards other incidents cannot take away the fact that Sunday’s killings were indeed brutal and despicable.

According to the information available a bunch of assassins numbering seven (two in sarong, two in civvies, three in uniform) had proceeded from the direction of the Vavunatheevu army camp on the Aayithiyamalai road in a white van.

Vavunatheevu is on the western shore of the Batticaloa lagoon. Three Tigers manning the sentry post about 800 metres from the army camp forward line were shot dead. The sentry post was at a place called Puliyam- adhu near the Mullamunai junction.

Known Tiger

The three Tigers killed were Nadarasa Suresh alias Capt. Thiyaneswaran of Eravur; Lieut. Sellathurai Jaseetharan alias Thanesan of Mankerni; Second Lt. Sethunathapillai Pirabhu alias Selvaveeran of Sittandy. They were shot dead at point blank range.

It is assumed that someone known to the dead cadres had been in the van and that the Tigers had no reason to suspect anything till the killings began. Interestingly all seven cadres killed had been with Karuna during the split and later rejoined the movement. These killings took place at about 11. 35 p.m.

Thereafter the vehicle had proceeded along the Aayithiyamalai Road till it reached what was known as the Maayawaadi camp. The place belonged to a landowner known as Mayappodi and was known as Mayaa’s Wadi.The nearby village is Ponnankanichenai.

This was about five kilometers from the Vavunatheevu camp. While two old men working as civilian watchers ran away, the assailants shot dead the four Tiger cadresat the site. Those killed were all disabled due to the war.

The Mayawadi camp had been an agricultural farm cum tax collection centre before the Karuna crisis erupted. It was also a rehabilitation centre for Tiger cadres maimed or disabled in the war. It had been a pet project ofKaruna himself. Even computers had been installed here.

When the attack took place only four cadres were staying there. The others had dispersed after Karuna disbanded his units and vacated the Batticaloa District.

The four persons killed by the assassins were Capt. Sasikumar or Kanapathipillai Thiruppatham from Periyaporatheev, Capt. Vaamakaanth or Ganesan Linganathan from Kiran; Lt. Vinoranjan or Selliah Mohanraj of Senkalladdy and Second Lt. Tharanan or Theivanayagam Santhirakumar of Aayithiyamalai.

Sasikumar and Vaamakaanth had lost both legs; Vinoranjan was blind in both eyes while Tharanan had lost one leg.

Vaamakaanth was from Krishnan Kovil Street in Kiran, the native place of Karuna himself. Vaamakaanth was a particular favourite of Karuna. He was a very good writer in Tamil and had authored several articles, short stories, plays , poems etc. for various Tiger media organs over the past years. He was also well versed in computers.

Apart from killing the four Tigers, the assassins had damaged 10 tractors, three motor cycles, one threshing machine and other agricultural equipment. They also damaged the computers and set fire to some buildings. The assassins left the place around 12. 30 a.m.

“Credible evidence”

The vehicle had returned the way it came and allegedly went out of sight in the vicinity of the army camp at Vavunatheevu.

The LTTE apparently has “credible evidence” of army complicity in the attack. They are still not sure of who exactly did the killings but are sure that they were “Tamil men” in league with the military.

There are three ex-militant groups now working with the army in Batticaloa as para-militaries or intelligence operatives. They are the Varathan group of TELO; Razeek group of EPRLF; and the Mohan group of the PLOTE.

Varathan and Razeek were killed by the LTTE but members continue to function. Mohan was moved to a South East Asian country by military intelligence to protect him after the ceasefire. His group is the deadliest of all three factions.

The LTTE targeted some of these men in the East and in Colombo after the ceasefire. These men along with the Mahattaya group comprise the nucleus of hit squads known as deep penetration squads or long range reconnaissance patrols.

The Mahattaya group consists of about 40 to 50 ex-Tiger cadres who surrendered to the army at various stages after former LTTE deputy leader Gopalswamy Mahendrarajah alias Mahattaya was detained and executed by the LTTE on charges of treason.

A witch hunt was conducted on a staggered basis against those cadre considered to be Mahattaya loyalists. Some escaped and went over to the enemy.

The state kept the Mahattaya group a closely guarded secret in view of its utility value and in the interests of their security.

The LTTE also did not publicise it because it was considered a “shame” for the Tigers that members of such a disciplined group could join the armed forces.

Most of the deep penetration squad hits in the north were done by the Mahattaya group while those in the east were done by the Mohan, Razeek and Varathan groups.

Logistical support

Though several “persons” in the south claim credit for these successes the actual risks and work was done by the Tamil groups. Those who provided logistical support now pretend to be the real McCoys for reasons of their own.

After Karuna’s debacle several of his cadres took refuge in military camps in the east and Polonnaruwa District. Some of these men are being moulded into a new group known as Karuna group.

Karuna reportedly is not with these men but staying elsewhere in the south with around 150 men.

The LTTE suspects that the Maayawaadi killings were done by members of the ex-militant groups or the Karuna group or both.

Whatever the identities of the actual perpetrators, the Tigers regard the army or its military intelligence division as being responsible. Geographically it is impossible for anyone to pass through that road without the army knowing, alleges the LTTE. It also dismisses charges against the Karuna group alone.

“We are afraid that putting aside this incident as one carried out by elements closer to Karuna may be too simplistic. Making use of the Karuna factor, any para-military groups working alongside the Sri Lanka Army (SLA), whether with the blessing of the SLA or otherwise, may continue to act in this manner and create havoc and confusion” wrote Tamilselvan to the SLMM.

The army has officially denied any involvement in the incident. Military Spokesperson Col. Sumedha Perera has pointed out that the killings took place in Tiger controlled territory and not in government controlled areas.

This revives earlier memories of killings by the LTTE in government controlled areas after the ceasefire. Tamilselvan disclaimed responsibility then and said the killings had not occurred in LTTE territory. What was sauce for the goose then is now sauce for the gander.

The LTTE suspects that a campaign is on to create an impression that a massive confrontation is going on between Karuna’s men and the LTTE in all parts of the island.

There have been several incidents in the recent past.One Tamil from Naavatkudah in Batticaloa died in a mysterious explosion in Kurunegala; two youths from Valaichenai and Eravur were shot dead by unknown persons in Maligawatte, Colombo. One died and the other is hospitalised.

Deliberate pattern

In another incident, a man and his wife were hacked with swords in Kallady, Batticaloa. The 53 year old man was a draftsman in the Irrigation Department and staying with his wife in the irrigation quarters. They were from Jaffna. The woman was the sister of former LTTE leader Kumarappah who at one time was Batticaloa Tiger commander.

The LTTE thinks there is a deliberate pattern to all these incidents including the Maayawaadi killings. The Tigers believe a sinister plot is being hatched to provoke them into rash action. Only time will tell whether LTTE suspicions are true or not.

LTTE political head for Batticaloa and Amparai, Kausalyan has issued a vehement denial to news reports that there was a shoot out between Karuna’s cadres and the LTTE in the Thoppigala jungles. He says that Karuna has no one of any consequence with him who is knowledgeable of the jungle routes known as the Beirut trail.

It may also be that the LTTE is ‘shy’ to admit that segments of Karuna forces are alive and kicking in the Tharavai-Kudumbimalai-Vadamunai jungles.

For one thing the LTTE boasted that Karuna was a single man and that he was now isolated; Tiger propagandists claimed that Karuna and his men were terrorised by special Tiger forces who attacked and then melted back to the Wanni.

One story is about how the special forces penetrated Thoppigala and did two strikes near Karuna’s secret camp. Apparently these made Karuna panic and throw in the towel. If this is indeed true, the simple question demanding an answer is the reason for not eliminating Karuna then and there instead of scaring him.

The LTTE also claimed that all of Karuna’s cadres had deserted him and joined the LTTE again. This again is not true. Only about 600 to 800 cadres have rejoined the LTTE. The rest numbering around 3500 to 4000 have returned home, fled elsewhere, gone with Karuna or taken refuge in army camps. The Tigers are now trying to reinduct cadres.

LTTE propagandists also spread stories of Karuna fleeing to Australia. Tiger radio stated firmly that Karuna was now in Brisbane.

The truth is that the LTTE hierarchy simply does not know where Karuna is now.

Internal matter

To admit that and the fact that some members at least of the Karuna faction have taken to arms against the parent body is infra dig for the LTTE. Besides if recent developments are indeed intra-Tiger friction then the SLMM cannot be asked to intervene in an internal LTTE matter. It may also encourage further dissension in Batticaloa.

The LTTE also suspects that deep penetration squads will start targeting LTTE leaders again. The explanation will be that Karuna’s men are doing so.

The LTTE and Karuna averted a lot of bloodshed by coming to an agreement to end the fighting. It appears now that both sides had ulterior motives for doing so. Bloodshed in installments is on the cards.

In any event the LTTE is of the view that Karuna has forfeited any right to clemency after the murders of LTTE intelligence personnel in his custody including Lt. Col Neelan Sinnathamby. Karuna was required to release them without harm.

The LTTE is now going all out for Karuna. At the same time the Tigers will not fail to avenge the killings of the seven in Batticaloa.

The recent editorial of the London based Tamil Guardian dated April 28th indicates the LTTE mindset. Relevant excerpts sound ominous indeed!

“The SLA’s claim that Karuna loyalists are responsible for the attack, meanwhile, must be viewed in the light of the Sri Lankan government providing sanctuary for the renegade commander and his associates. Karuna’s own cold-blooded killing of several LTTE intelligence officers before his flight from Batticaloa has already placed him beyond the pale, as far as the Tamil people are concerned. Colombo’s sanctuary and the attack on Sunday must therefore be viewed in the light of the LTTE’s warning soon after Karuna’s rebellion began: ‘We should let it be known to his contacts that they will cause irreparable damage to the peace process if they exploit Karuna’s dissent.’

“As such, the ramifications of the attack go beyond the seven deaths. Those seeking to provoke a vehement reaction from the LTTE are deliberately seeking to reignite a cycle of violence which will eventually plunge the island back into a bloody war. The revulsion and outrage Sunday’s killings have sparked in the Tamil community and, no doubt, in the LTTE is no less for recognition of their purpose. As this newspaper and other advocates of a negotiated solution have repeatedly argued, it is in the volatile Eastern Province that agent provocateurs have the greatest chance of success. Conscious of the objective of Sunday’s attack, the LTTE is, for now, raising the matter through the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM). Having said that, of course, those familiar with the LTTE’s ethos on such matters know full well that the file on this matter will remain open for a long time. That four particularly helpless cadres who were amongst the victims will give particular impetus to its closure.”

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The Special Task Force (STF) has decided to carry out a special threat assessment programme to analyse threats faced by STF informants with the aim of safeguarding them from being targeted by the LTTE.

“This programme will be followed up by a strategic plan that will ensure maximum security for informants who work for the STF,” Commandant STF DIG Nimal Lueke told the Daily News yesterday.

Commenting on the recent informant killings, the DIG said that each and every informant of the Armed Forces is under threat and it is the duty of the respective armed force to look into the security of informants.

“Its my duty to look after my people because they are working under me,” the DIG said. “But at the same time the informant should also be aware of the threat faced by him and take precautionary measures.”

The STF Commandant also pointed out that the if the informant is made aware of the security threat and the respective armed force provides him with adequate security and still he is negligent and fails to take precautionary measures, no one can be blamed.

The DIG further said that the STF is planning strengthen security in Ampara district with a new proposed base complex to avoid abundant natural resources in the district getting into the “wrong hands”.

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A police raid on an army “safe house” in Colombo on January 2 has provided a revealing glimpse into the dirty operations of the Sri Lankan military. The luxury home situated in the Millennium City housing complex on the outskirts of the capital was the base for a secret army hit squad ostensibly to carry out attacks behind the lines on the leadership of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Police acting on a tip off arrested an army captain, four soldiers and a former LTTE member and seized a large cache of sophisticated weapons. These included 10 anti-personnel mines, 20 land mines, four light anti-tank weapons, automatic rifles and ammunition, LTTE uniforms, explosives and related material, and thermobaric weapons.

The unit, which was officially part of the army’s Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP), operated under the auspices of the Directorate of Military Intelligence. Details of its function, whereabouts and operations were known only to a handful of top-level army officers. The revelation of its existence has provoked outrage from the military and its apologists who have accused the police of compromising a top state secret.

Although the military police were involved in the raid on the safe house, the military hierarchy, including the army commander Lionel Balagalla, were apparently not informed. Balagalla immediately contacted the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to prevent those arrested from being interrogated and to obtain their release.

However, the army’s attempt at damage control was blocked by Internal Security Minister John Amarathunge. The soldiers were held at a police station under the country’s Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) which provides broad powers of detention without trial. They were only finally released on January 13, after Balagalla issued a public statement declaring that the unit had not been engaged in political assassinations but were used in covert operations as part of the long-running war against the separatist LTTE.

Balagalla’s statement was aimed at quelling widespread media speculation that the military squad had been connected to President Chandrika Kumaratunga and her Peoples Alliance (PA) which was defeated in national elections in December. It was even suggested that the unit was set up by army officers sympathetic to the PA to assassinate the newly elected Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The very fact that the army chief was compelled to officially deny that his troops are involved in political violence in Colombo speaks volumes. The recent election was one of the most violent on record with 2,247 incidents officially reported, including 46 deaths. Both the PA and the United National Party (UNP) routinely use gangs of thugs to intimidate and terrorise their opponents and also have close connections to the military and police top brass. In the course of the campaign, UNP leader Wickremesinghe claimed to have information about plans by a group of soldiers to murder him using thermobaric weapons.

The UNP government appears to have accepted Balagalla’s explanation. Indeed the newly appointed Defence Minister Tilak Marapana ordered the release of all members of the unit, except the ex-LTTE fighter, and expressed his anger over the police raid. A media campaign is underway to defend the unit and criticise the police for exposing its operations.

Defence analyst Iqbal Athas, for instance, who has close connections to the military hierarchy, has written several lengthy comments in the English language Sunday Times criticising the police involved in the raid. In the latest article entitled “The great betrayal,” he berated the “blind fanatics of the [police] department” for the “humiliating ordeal” suffered by “the national heroes” and called for a public apology to the army and the soldiers.

It should be pointed out that the treatment of these soldiers during their short stay in police custody was comparatively mild compared to the abuse and torture routinely meted out to hundreds of Tamils who are held without trial as “LTTE suspects” for months and years under the country’s draconian anti-terrorist legislation. All of this is defended as absolutely essential to national security by Athas and others of his ilk.

Unanswered questions

Despite the attempts to sweep the matter under the carpet, a number of serious questions about this covert unit remain unanswered.

No one in the political establishment—either the government or opposition—has questioned the legitimacy of the military maintaining a secret assassination squad. Athas reveals, with pride, that one of the squad’s “most prized accomplishments” was the murder of LTTE military intelligence leader Thambirasa Kuhasanathan. Sri Lankan politicians regularly brand the LTTE as “terrorists” yet the army retains the services of a group of professional assassins.

The LTTE’s Tamil Net website provided an extensive report on January 8 that confirmed that the army’s LRRP units had killed Thambirasa Kulashanthan, as well as Colonel Shanker, a close confident of LTTE leader Prabhakaran. It accused the army of two abortive attempts on the life of Thamil Chelvam, the leader of its political wing.

The LTTE also alleged that the LRRP units were involved in a series of attacks on civilians living in LTTE-controlled areas: the kidnapping of two civilians last April 2, the seizure of six farmers including three women on April 25, the gunning down of two people in May at Batticaloa North, and the disappearance of another three near Mathurankerny.

The army claims that its hit squads only operate behind enemy lines but the manner in which those arrested operated raises doubts. Why were they living in a “safe house” with a huge cache of weapons rather than in military barracks? Why were their activities known only to a handful of top officers in the Directorate of Military intelligence?

While no official explanation has been forthcoming, the army’s apologist Athas offers a series of excuses that raise more questions than they answer. He writes: “A plethora of them [safe houses] existed under the police and security forces when they combated the violence of the then outlawed Janatha Vikukthi Permuna (JVP) in the late 1980s. Suspected were arrested and grilled at these safe houses not to mention the complaints it drew from human rights groups of torture. In the later years, major state intelligence agencies had their safe houses to detain and question Tiger guerrilla suspects.”

In other words, the use of “safe houses” by the military special squads is a longstanding practice, not only in the war against the LTTE but also against political opposition in the south. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the security forces targetted the chauvinist JVP as part of a far broader operation to intimidate and terrorise layers of discontented rural youth in the south. An estimated 60,000 rural youth were brutally killed or simply “disappeared” during the period.

Significantly, the JVP, has since made peace with the political establishment in Colombo. The party, which falsely claims to be Marxist, is among the most extreme advocates of the war against the LTTE and denying basic democratic rights to the Tamil minority. In response to the revelations about the safe house, the JVP has been one of the loudest in the defence of the army and its use of military assassination squads that a decade ago were used against JVP supporters and rural youth.

Covert military and paramilitary units such as the Black Cats and Green Tigers were engaged in wholesale torture and murders. The infamous Batalanda torture camp was one such safe house where high-level interrogations took place. The same compound housed leading members of the then UNP government, including the current prime minister Wickremesinghe.

Wickremesinghe may not have been a target of the arrested LRRP unit but one feature of the case points to a possible connection to other election-related violence. It is not entirely clear how the police came to know of the “safe house”. Athas points out that the unit had only taken up residence in mid-December and its existence was only known to select officers in the Directorate of Military Intelligence. He claims that the information was leaked by dissident members of the directorate but fails to answer the obvious question—why? At the very least, such divisions point to bitter feuding, possibly political, in the ranks of military.

The police superintendent in charge of the raid, Kulasiri Udugampola, came to know of the safe house through an apparently unrelated investigation. He was in charge of investigating the worst case of election violence—the cold-blooded murder of 10 supporters of Sri Lankan Muslim Congress (SLMC) at Pallethalawinna in the Kandy district on election day, December 5.

The survivors of the attack alleged that thugs connected to the former PA minister Anurudhdha Ratwatte, including two of his sons, were responsible. The PA was particularly bitter about the SLMC which had switched to the opposition and precipitated the crisis that eventually forced the election.

Among the suspects detained were 30 soldiers, including an army captain, from Vijayaba Infantry Regiment stationed at Boyagane in the Kurunegala District. The police claim that it was from one of these soldiers that the information about the safe house was obtained. According to some media reports, one of Ratwatta’s sons, Chanuka, was a frequent visitor to the Millennium City safe house.

Both the government and opposition are now engaged in attempting to whitewash the military. Neither the UNP nor the PA want a serious investigation into such military units as such an inquiry would potentially expose their own systematic involvement in political thuggery. But working people should take a sharp warning from this whole episode—such squads can also be used against the working class, particularly as opposition and protests develop against the attacks being prepared on jobs, living standards and democratic rights.

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Former Senior DIG of Crime and Criminal Intelligence, H.M.G.B. Kotakadeniya who appeared before the Presidential Commission inquiring into the Police raid on the Safe House at the Athurugiriya Millennium City yesterday said that irresponsible actions among the Police hierarchy had created this unwarranted situation.

Kotakadeniya said that if he had conducted the raid, he would have obtained the search warrant from the Teldeniya Magistrate and would have proceeded with the inquiry at the Safe House. Besides if I found the legitimacy of the Safe House, I would have informed the Magistrate without resorting to another offence, he said.

Former Judge of Court of Appeal D. Jayawickrema presided the Commission. Giving further evidence, the DIG said he was summoned by the Minister of Interior to carry out a separate inquiry in addition to the investigation carried out by ASP Udugampola. Since it was a matter of security, he had asked for CID assistance for the investigation.

Accordingly, a special team headed by SSP S.L.M. Samarathunga of CID was appointed by the Minister. When the question was raised by the judge about the necessity of two separate inquiries, the DIG said that, there were allegations against ASP Udugampola for being incompetent.

Answering the question raised by the judge whether the DIG was aware of a conspiracy theory behind the Safe House to assassinate the Prime Minister, he said that it was not known until the media alleged that there was such an attempt.

The senior DIG also blamed the Police for not taking any disciplinary action against ASP Udugampola , although Kotakadeniya had complained to the IGP stating that the ASP had acted in a malicious manner to bring the Army into disrepute.

The evidence was led by the State Counsel, Riyaz Hamza.

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The Government last week countered the damning Presidential Commission report on the Athurugiriya Millennium City Safe House details with a statement that a Parliamentary Select Committee would be appointed to investigate the same incident. The Select Committee will be appointed next month through a resolution passed in Parliament and will comprise no more than 12 members, Cabinet Spokesman G. L. Pieris revealed last week.

A team of police directed by ASP Udugampola raided the Army safe house at No. 844, Kaduwela road, Athurugiriya on January 02, 2002 without a court order to search the place. The safe house was used by Army intelligence personnel (Directorate of Military Intelligence) for covert action to infiltrate LTTE cadres and eliminate some of the LTTE leadership.

However, the police team subsequent to the raid, revealed the media that a number of weapons, explosives, and other military equipment which were in the house, claiming them to be illegal and unsafe.

They also had later confessed that they raided the place with a tip off of an assassination attempt on former Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The Presidential Commission report revealed last week deemed the raid on the safe house by ASP Kulasiri Udugampola and several others as illegal.

The one member Commission chaired by retired Supreme Court judge D. Jayawickreme in his report had said that the ASP had rejected the statement of the Army Commander about the safe house functioning under his approval and had proceeded on the legal course of action. Therefore, the Commission Report said that ‘The action taken by ASP Udugampola in the manner he did in taking into custody several Army personnel was illegal, immoral and in violation of all the rules and regulations of the police’.

The Commission had also said that “the Government, the Prime Minister and the ministers concerned, the then Inspector General of Police L. Kodituwakku, his successor T. E. Anandarajah and all other senior officers should be held responsible for the illegal act of ASP Udugampola”.

The Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) team, housed at the Kohuwala Army Camp and was relocated to Athurugiriya in December 2001. When the safe House was raided the LRRP team led by Captain Nilam had conducted a number of Deep Penetration operations in the North and had accounted for nine LTTE high rankers including Mano and Ganesh. They have also killed another 10 regional level leaders.

The Commission to probe into the incident was appointed in August 16, 2002 by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. However, the requested equipment had been provided the Commission in September.

A government lawyer had been released in October after several requests and enough police officers had not been provided by the government till March this year.

Subsequent to the exposure of the safe house in Athurugiriya, a pistol gang was created by the LTTE to hunt down and kill Army informants. Allegations were made that, exposing the activities carried out from the safe house, would have also exposed covert intelligence operations and operators enabling the LTTE to identify the informants.

Several informants were killed in Batticaloa, Trincomalee and even at Dehiwala, Pepiliyana and Mount Lavinia. One informant, Pulendrarasa was killed on January 03 in Batticaloa and Vidayakaran and Nimalan were killed in Batticaloa on January 16 and 21 respectively by the LTTE pistol gang. Raghupathi Kadiragamnathan and Devarasa Lingasamai were killed in Colombo in April.

The Presidential Commission Report also said that the arbitrary action of the police had jeopardized the security of the State and neutralised the Military strategy. It also said that since, the raid more than 23 informants and civilians had been killed by the LTTE and a number of persons had been seriously injured.

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