Indian fishermen released
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 06 September 2000, 14:59 GMT]
The High Court in Vavuniya Wednesday released four Indian fishermen who were arrested off the north-western coast 11 months ago and had been detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act at Mirihana Detention Centre.
The Court ordered the authorities to inform the Indian High Commission in Colombo to receive the released fishermen and to make arrangements for them to travel back to India.
The released fishermen were identified as; Santhanamoorthy Chithamparam,28, Santhanam Pandy,36, Rajaratnam Xavier,37, and Karuppaiah Jeyapandi,40.
The four fishermen were arrested by the Sri Lanka Navy off the Mannar coast on 24 November 1999, in an area where fishing is banned. They were later handed over to Mannar police.
The fishermen were charged with having contacts with the Liberation Tigers and with smuggling banned items for the organisation. The case was taken up for hearing in front of Vavuniya High Court Judge, Mr.S.Sreeskantharajah.
The fishermen pleaded guilty on the charges. The judge returned a verdict of six months imprisonment.
The Attorney who appeared on behalf of the fishermen, however, appealed to the courts to release the fishermen as they had already been detained for nearly one year. The judge ordered their release as the State Council did not protest.