Protection-seeker shot dead in Jaffna

[TamilNet, Friday, 13 June 2008, 06:25 GMT]
Armed men stopped a prison vehicle Friday morning, identified a youth who had been placed under humanitarian protective custody, and opened fire, killing two victims, near Punnaalaikkadduvan High Security Zone area while they were being transported with other prisoners to Point Pedro courts, according to initial reports. One of the victims, S. Leptinraj, was alleged to be involved in the killing of Ms. Maheswary Velayutham, Eelam Peoples’ Democratic Party (EPDP) Key advisor, on May 13 in Kareveddi in Vadmaraadchi. Mr. Leptinraj and his sister had sought protection one week after their parents and a brother were abducted and a cousin shot and killed in Karaveddi.

Selvarasa Leptinraj, 17, of Rajakiraamam, Karaveddi and Thangarasa Suloshan, 17, also of Rajakiraamam, were the killed victims, Police said. The latter was arrested earlier on crime related charges, legal sources said.

Another youth, injured in his hand during the shooting was identified as Jerome Rakkuvaran, 21, of Kara'navaay, Karaveddi West. He is admitted to Jaffna Teaching Hospital.

The killers, arriving in a white van, stopped the prison vehicle, entered it and opened fire with pistol on Leptinraj, who was sitting on the lap of the other youth.

The episode has taken place while the transport vehicle from Jaffna prison was on its way to Point Pedro courts on Chunnaakam - Punnaalaikkadduvan Road around 9:00 a.m. Friday. The vehicle was on a regular routine after releasing some of the inmates to attend hearings at Mallaakam courts.

Prison guards were unarmed in the vehicle, which was carrying prisoners and protection seekers.

The victims had sought humanitarian protection with the Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission in Jaffna after alleged death threats issued by the SLA or the paramilitaries operated by them.

The parents of Leptinraj had been abducted by unidentified armed men from their home in Rajakiraamam, Karaveddi earlier.

One week after the abduction of the parents, Selvarasa Levin, their son and the brother of Leptin, was abducted by armed men in a white van.

Meanwhile, a cousin of Leptinraj had been shot and killed by unknown gunmen in Manthikai, Karaveddi.

Following these incidents, Leptinraj, along with his sister, had sought protection for their lives at Point Pedro courts and placed in the protective custody of Jaffna Prison and Kurunakar Rehabilation Centre, respectively.

Leptinraj and his sister were being transported with other prisoners in the prison vehicle when the killers shot and killed him Friday morning.

The HRC, due to the lack of other protective arrangements, has been using the Jaffna prison as a safe haven to provide security to young males who seek humanitarian protection. Females and children are provided refuge at the temporary Rehabilitation Centre located in the old judicial complex at Kurunakar in Jaffna.

The two bodies of the victims are kept at Thellippazhai Government Hospital.

Punnalaikkadduvan in Valikamam South is located 13 km northeast of Jaffna city.



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