Extortion by SLA suspected in release of Jaffna youths- MP

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 27 February 2008, 00:27 GMT]
Family members of 44 youths who were recently allowed to leave Jaffna prison have complained to a Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian that they had paid sums of up to Rs.70,000 to brokers acting as intermediaries between the relatives and the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) personnel in Jaffna, to obtain the youths' release. Meanwhile, Major. Gen. G. A. Chandrasiri, claimed that the youths had confessed to being members of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and had accepted to undergo rehabilitation at the Reformation and Rehabilitation Centre in Thellippa’lai, under SLA supervision.

Major. Gen.Chandrasiri told civil society representatives at a meeting held Monday evening at SLA Palaali Military Base that 44 youths who had been placed in protective custody in Jaffna prison will soon be moved to the Thellippa'lai facility, attendees of the meeting said.

More than 200 persons sought safety at the Human Rights Council (HRC) offices in Jaffna and were placed in the protective custody in Jaffna prison in the last several months due to death threats by SLA troops and SLA-backed paramilitaries, according to official HRC records.

The 44 youths were released on condition that they had to sign a statement declaring that they were members of the LTTE. The youths and their relatives were allegedly given assurance by the brokers that the youths will be issued with SLA travel pass to leave Jaffna peninsula after the money exchanged hands, the MP told TamilNet.

Jaffna Courts, on receiving the application refers them first to Jaffna Police Commissioner to convey if there was any objection to the release of the youths placed in protective custody, and the applicants are released on personal surety signed by blood relatives, if the police authorities do not object, legal society sources in Jaffna said.

Despite numerous earlier requests by various government and humanitarian organizations to open the rehabilitation centre in Kaarainakar, Jaffna SLA authorities had remained unresponsive, civil society sources said.

The sudden move to open the Rehabilitation Centre in Thellippa’lai has raised strong suspicions of foul play, and the alleged extortion confirms SLA complicity in the matter, sources added.



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