STF fired at students in Trinco- paper
[TamilNet, Sunday, 08 January 2006, 01:39 GMT]
The execution style killing of five Tamil students, all under 20 years of age, on Monday at Dock Yard Road in Trincomalee town, was allegedly carried out by “a team of Police Special Task Force (STF) commandos,” said the Situation Report column of Sunday Times in its 8th January Sunday edition. The paper further said the deployment of the STF was ordered by “a retired police official who has now been named as an advisor in the Defence Ministry,” and the order was issued during the period “when Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapakse was away in India accompanying his brother, President Mahinda Rajapakse.”
The paper added that “even if a dispute continued over how the incident [killing of students] began...there was was no debate that there was gun fire. There was something highly disturbing too. With little or no knowledge of the senior armed forces officials in the Trincomalee district, a team of 24 STF commandos led by only a Chief Inspector had been ordered for deployment in Trincomalee. Responsible for this, The Sunday Times learnt, was a retired police official who has now been named as an advisor in the Defence Ministry. He is reported to have called upon the police commandos to act tough against terrorist elements.”
Former Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, H.N.G.B. Kotakadeniya (Photo: Sunday Leader)
The advisor referred to by the paper is former Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, H.N.G.B. Kotakadeniya, a hardline Sinhala Nationalist who was appointed to the advisor position by Sri Lanka’s President Rajapakse.
"The Sunday Times learnt that a Chief Petty Officer of the Navy rushed to the spot with some sailors from one road. He met up with a three-wheeler. A Sinhala mother and her child were heading towards the town area. He let them pass before reaching the spot. By then, a team of Police Special Task Force (STF) commandos from a neighbouring location arrived at the scene along another road. They allegedly opened fire," the paper said.
“The Defence Secretary lost no time in politely reminding the retired policeman that all such actions [ordering STF deployments] in the future should be with his express approval. He told him to confine his role to offering advice and not to work at cross purposes,” the paper said.
In an interview that appeared in Sunday Leader of 1st January Mr Kotakadeniya “had expressed the need to re-capture Government land in the north now held by Tiger guerrillas - a suggestion that a war should be waged. The publication of this interview prompted a response from former President Kumaratunga who is now holidaying in the United Kingdom,” Iqbal Athas Sunday Times’ defense analyst disclosed in his Situation Report column. Ms Kumaratunge had allegedly told Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, referring to the Kotakadeniya interview that President Rajapakse has “messed up” things.