Details of civilian death revealed

[TamilNet, Friday, 04 June 1999, 09:58 GMT]
A man accused of illicit alcohol brewing told the Mannar court that the Sri Lankan Army had framed the charges against him as revenge for revealing the details of a civilian who died while in SLA custody, said sources.

Mr. Joseph Jesuratnam, Chairman of the Rural Development Society of Southbar, a coastal village a few miles from Mannar town, said that he had told the Government Agent and ICRC about the death of Thiruneelakandan Hariharan, arrested on January 2 1997, while in SLA custody.

M.Ilancheiliyan, the magistrate, immediately referred to the records of the inquest into the death of Thiruneelakandan Hariharan and found that an open verdict had been recorded as the cause of death could not be established with the evidence available at the time.

The court ordered the Police to reopen the case and make inquiries into the allegations against the Southbar SLA.

When the case was taken up for trial at the Mannar courts last week, three witnesses: Joseph Jesuratnam, Kindute Vithanalaage Hilbert Silva and Iyamperumal Vijayakumar told the courts that on 2.1.1997 the deceased, Thirukandaneelan Hariharan, was arrested by the Southbar SLA. The villagers were then told to gather at a public place and Thirukandaneelan Hariharan was assaulted in front of the villagers until he fell down.

The witnesses further said that Lt.Nisanka, the Officer in Charge of Southbar SLA detachment, said to the villagers while pointing at Hariharan, "this is the punishment for any one helping the LTTE in the village."

The witnesses said that the soldiers continued to assault the suspect in front of Lt.Nisanka and later took him to the army camp.

"We heard the crying of a person throughout that night and heard the unusual noises of vehicle movements till dawn at the army camp. Next day we learnt that Hariharan was dead," the witnesses told the courts.

"Hariharan was beaten to death that night. Although the OIC of the army camp did not assault the suspect in front of us and the villagers, we can identify the soldiers who assaulted him in the presence of the army officer," they said in their evidence.

Thiruneelakandan Senthaamaraichelvi, mother of the deceased and a displaced resident of Palam Road Kandarmadam in Jaffna currently living at Akkaraipattru in Batticaloa, was present at the courts and appealed to the magistrate to hand over the Rs.13,100/- that was in the possession of her son when he was arrested by the SLA and to issue a death certificate.

The proceedings were postponed for Monday June 7.


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