Amnesty for deserters called off
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 22 October 1997, 23:59 GMT]
The Sri Lankan army announced today that the general amnesty that had been granted last month for the large number of deserters will be withdrawn this Friday Oct 25.
This amnesty was ostensibly announced in connection with the fortieth anniversary of the Sri Lankan army. The army said today that some deserters had responded to the amnesty but that about eight thousand were still at large.
But informed sources say that the actual figure could be more than fifteen thousand. The Police continues carry out surprise cordon and search operations in the southern districts of the island where a significant number of recruits to the Sri Lankan army are drawn to capture deserters and hand them over to their units back in the war front.
PA MPs from these areas receive on the average 30-40 applications seeking their assistance to retrieve the captured deserters from the Police before they are handed over to the army.
The major crime wave that has hit the Sinhala areas in recent years is attributed by the Sri Lankan Police to the large number of well trained soldiers of the SLA who have got away with their personal and other weapons. This is the fourth amnesty the SLA has announced since September 1996.