MoD says 'no case' amid public protests

[TamilNet, Thursday, 04 July 2002, 01:18 GMT]
(News Feature) A Sri Lankan Defence Ministry inquiry into the assault of two senior political cadres of the Liberation Tigers on June 20 ruled that "there was no evidence ... to establish a case against any individual or person," state media reported. The Defence Ministry statement was issued Wednesday, the day after a massive demonstration in Kilinochchi to protest the attack by Sri Lankan naval personnel and members of the paramilitary Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) on the LTTE cadres.

The Board of Inquiry appointed by the Ministry of Defence to inquire into the incident in the Jaffna island of Kayts "has concluded that there is no proof of evidence with regard to the alleged incident to establish a case against any individual or person," the state-owned Daily News said Thursday.

The Jaffna district political unit of the Liberation Tigers said that Mr. Semmanan, their political leader in the islands, and Mr. Thayalan, one of their political activists, were attacked at the Velanai bus company junction on June 20 by Navy personnel and paramilitaries wearing masks.

The head of the international ceasefire monitors in Sri Lanka, Major General Trond Furuhovde, had called on the government to appoint an independent inquiry into the incident.

But the two-member Board of Inquiry, which questioned 15 persons representing the LTTE, EPDP, civilians, Sri Lanka Navy (SLN), Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and Sri Lanka Police (SLP), comprised navy officials Rear Admiral L.B. Dharmapriya and Rear Admiral Mohan Wijewickrema.

The Daily News said the Board "has observed the contradictions between the statements made by the parties to the Police and the Board, lack of documentary evidence that could prove Navy involvement in the incident and the non-availability of categorical evidence to prove that any identified EPDP member had been involved in this incident."

In addition to the MoD inquiry, the SLA, SLN, Police and LTTE "will each do a separate thorough investigation on the alleged assault," the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) said in a statement on June 23.

There have been widespread protests in the Tamil areas of the island against the attack, including demonstrations in Jaffna, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Amparai, all in Sri Lankan military controlled areas.

More than eight thousand people took part in a protest march and public rally in Kayts in Jaffna Thursday. The protest hartal (general strike) last Tuesday in the Trincomalee district organised Tuesday by Tamil civil society organisations drew impromptu support from Tamils in Batticaloa and Amparai districts

The latest protest against the attacks was a massive demonstration held in LTTE-held Kilinochchi Tuesday, organised by the Kilinochchi District Council of Humanitarian Agencies (CHA).

Protest march and public rally in Kilinochchi, Tuesday. (Photo:LTTE)
Led by CHA head, Mr K Jeyabalasingham, over five thousand protestors set off from Uthiravengai Vairavar temple at 11am on Kandy road and reached the town's central ground an hour later, Tamil press reports said. Mr Jeyabalasingham, Kandavalai Education Officer V Sittampalam and District Cooperative Society head Soloman Susil Cyril addressed the public meeting that followed.

Copies of a petition signed by the public was sent to a representative of the Norway government, Sri Lanka Prime Minister, Sri Lanka President, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, SLMM representative for the district as well as the Government Agent for Kilinochchi.

The Jaffna representative of the SLMM received the copy destined for the Norway government as his Kilinochchi counterpart, the original intended recipient, could not attend. The petitions were handed over by Kilinochchi Palmyra, Coconut Cooperative Society's Network head S Sivanesan, District Cooperative Society head Soloman Susil Cyril and Vanni Hindu Council head K Rajeswara Kurukkal.

The demonstrators shouted slogans and carried placards directed against the Sri Lanka government and the EPDP. A large portrait of the LTTE leader Mr V Pirapaharan was carried at the front by students.

Reports said normal life came to a standstill in Kilinochchi itself as well as Mallavi, Thunukkai, Visvamadu, Akkarayankulam, Mulankavil, Jeyapuram, Pooneryn and Vattikachchi.

Tamil parliamentarians have also condemned the attack on the LTTE cadres. "[We] consider these attacks not only as ceasefire violations but also a premeditated action to derail the peace process by provoking the Liberation Tigers to launch counter attacks," the Tamil United Liberation Front, a leading member of the four-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA), said in a statement.

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