Ponnambalam aide identifies 'Shantha'

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 18 January 2000, 10:45 GMT]
All Ceylon Tamil Congress leader Kumar Ponnambalam's aide, G.Thomas has identified the person who met the late M.Ponnambalam. at his home on the day of his assassination as Shantha.

Shantha later accompanied Ponnambalam on a drive to downtown Colombo, Thomas tesitfied. The ACTC leader was later assassinated by a gunman in Wellawatte, a Colombo suburb.

Testifying before Galkissa Magistrate Sumathipala at the Magisterial inquiry into the death of late Kumar Ponnambalam, Thomas said that he had been working as a mechanic at the residence of Ponnambalam for about ten years.

His employer had amassed a collection of 19 Mercedes Benz cars at his home which were maintained by Thomas. On Janaury 5 while working in the garage, he heard the call bell at the gate ring. He went towards the gate and looked out to see a caller waiting outside. The caller introduced himself as 'Shantha' and said that he'd come to see Ponnambalam. Thereafter he told his employer, who was upstairs at the time, that one Shantha had come to see him. He told him this over the telephone.

Ponnambalam directed him to let him in and told him to be seated in the verandah.

Shantha, who didn't strike Thomas as threatening, wore a blue shirt and black trousers. "Since that person spoke fluent Sinhala I thought that he was a Sinhalese," said Thomas. Thereafter he proceeded to the garage to continue his chores.

Thomas tesified that he saw his employer leave with Shantha. They travelled in Ponnambalam's Mercedes, bearing the registration plate No 65-3590. Ponnambalam drove while Shantha sat in the passenger-side front seat.

Thomas proceeded to the scene of Ponnambalam's killing with the M.P's son when they heard the news, Thomas told the inquest.

The inquiry will resume on January 21.


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