Thousands mourn Vankalai victims

[TamilNet, Saturday, 10 June 2006, 07:41 GMT]
More than five thousand people took part in the funeral procession of the four victims in Vankalai who were beaten, stabbed and hanged to death allegedly by Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers Thursday night. The funeral Mass was held Saturday morning at St. Anne's Church at 9:00 a.m. by Vicar General A. Xavior Cruz and Mannar Bishop Rayappu Joseph, sources in Mannar said.

Religious leaders, community leaders, Governmental, Non Governmental officials, Tamil National Alliance TELO, EPRLF (Suresh) members and Vanni district parliamentarian Sivasakthi Anandan attended the burial held at Vankalai burial grounds.

Local residents and eye witnesses told Mannar Additional Magistrate Mr. T. J. Prabakaran who went to the scene of the murders that they had seen three Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers in uniform around 10 a.m. on the day of the killings Thursday 8th June 2006.

The soldiers stated that they were on a routine search operation to ascertain the names and identities of the residents of the household and their occupations, and the details of their period of residence at the current location.

The family had fled Sri Lanka and was living as refugees in India returning only a year and a half ago to Vankalai.

Moorthy Martin, 35 years, was a carpenter by trade. His tools had been used to torture and kill him and his family, according to medical sources.

Funeral, Vankalai victims.
Funeral, Vankalai victims.
The escalation of violence in Vankalai, Naruvilikulam areas, and due to fear from indiscriminate SLA firing during night hours many Vankalai villagers leave their homes around 5 pm to sleep in the church premises or with relatives in villages many kilometers away.

According to the older sister of Chitra, one of the fatalities, she and Chitra’s family did not want sleep in the church that night since Martin was to return home late. She had gone to Chitra’s house and had asked for the children to be sent to her house. Chitra had said the children would go as soon as her husband Moorthy Martin returned from work. Chitra’s sister had waited until 7:30 p.m. and as Martin had not yet returned from work, she left without the children expecting them to follow as soon as Martin arrived.

After the killings, around four thousand restive villagers, angered by the massacre, gathered near the house.

The riot police had been called to provide additional security in the area guarding against outbreak of violence by angered villagers.

Rev. Fr. Rayappu Joseph, the Bishop of Mannar, the Vankalai SL Commanding officer and village representatives on Friday met at St. Ann’s church; the SLA Commanding officer denied any involvement of the Sri Lankan military in the massacre.

It is alleged that Mary Madeline (Chitra), 27 years, the mother of the two children, was raped by soldiers before being stabbed in the chest. Her stab wounds were fatal causing death within minutes, medical sources said.

The Medical Superintendent has sent the clothes, blood samples and other specimens taken from of the fatalities including swabs from the alleged rape victims to SL government forensic experts for examination.

Both the father and the two children are alleged to have been tortured, and stabbed before being killed by hanging.

The father Moorthy Martin had been stabbed in the stomach and chest.

Son Ann Nilxon had been stabbed in the stomach causing his intestines to disgorge.

Daughter Ann Luxia had stab wounds around her viginal area.

The bodies were returned to relatives 8 pm Friday after postmortem examinations. The bodies were held at the St Anne’s church nursery school until the completion of the funeral Mass.

Funeral, Vankalai victims.
The Additional Magistrate Mr. Prabakaran has asked eye witnesses to register their statements with the police, legal sources said.

The commanding officer of the SLA in Vankalai and the chief of the Vankalai police have been instructed by the Magistrate to attend a hearing set for 23rd June 2006.

An identification parade has been scheduled and the coroner’s inquest has also been fixed for the same day, legal sources said.

Funeral, Vankalai victims.

 

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