SL Police chief admits Sri Lanka forces involved in abductions

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 06 March 2007, 12:03 GMT]
Sri Lankan security forces are involved in abductions of civilians for ransom, the country’s Police Chief admitted Monday, saying a ‘large number’ of officers and troops had been arrested on charges of abduction and extortion. However the Inspector General of Police, Victor Perera also asserted that “organised groups” were conducting abductions and killings “to embarrass the government.”

Victor Perera, SL Inspector General of Police
Among 433 people arrested since September over the abductions, a large number were either policemen, soldiers or deserters from the police and armed forces, Perera was quoted by AFP as saying.

But he gave no breakdown of those arrested.

The kidnappings of wealthy businesspeople or their relatives for ransom has become widespread in the past year.

The victims are mainly Tamils, Muslims or Upcountry Tamils and some Sinhalese, monitoring groups say.

In some instances ransoms had been paid abroad, Perera told reporters Monday.

Reporters say there are suspicions of the collusion of senior government officials in the kidnappings for ransom.

Especially terrifying for the victims and their families, these abductions are taking place amid soaring numbers of disappearances and extra-judicial killings, with increasing numbers of bodies being found dumped.

Local and international human rights groups and some governments have expressed concern at abductions and killings which have shot up since the government of President Mahinda Rajapakse stepped up its military campaign against the Tamil Tigers last year.

Perera admitted the government was under international pressure over the deteriorating human rights situation.

"There is a lot of attention by foreign organisations on the human rights situation here and these killings and abductions cause big problems for the government internationally," Perera told the AFP.

“We suspect that these crimes are being committed by organized groups to embarrass the government,” Associated Press quoted Perera as saying.

Perera said his officials are trying to resolve the killings and several abductions and offered "unlimited money" as a reward for information leading to the arrest of those involved in kidnappings.

The police chief’s comments come as the five year old daughter of a popular Tamil businessman was abducted Monday in Negombo, with the abductors demanding ransom to release her.

And five bullet-riddled bodies of unidentified men turned up in the north central district of Anuradhapura.

This follows a similar discovery of five bodies near the capital Colombo Saturday and a sixth body found at the same site Monday.

The bodies, found in a marsh at Kandana, 15 km north of Colombo, were too badly decomposed to be identified, police said. They suspect that the bodies had been dumped in the marshy land after being executed in other areas.

IGP Victor Perera (1st r) pictured at Sri Lanka's Independence Day parade, Feb 4, 2007

 

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