Britain neglected British Tamil suspiciously died in Sri Lanka's prison

[TamilNet, Saturday, 01 March 2014, 23:43 GMT]
The relatives of a 43-year-old British Eelam Tamil, Gopithas Visuvalingam, who died in the Sri Lankan jail under suspicious circumstances on 24 February, blame Colombo for torture of Tamil political prisoners. Mr Gopithas, a British national and father of two, was arrested in Colombo in March 2007 and jailed without any charges till 2012, when he was finally charged and ‘convicted’ for assisting the LTTE. Gopithas had told his aged father, who was visiting him in prison recently that he feared for his life at the hands of operatives, who were under the direct command of the SL presidential sibling and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa before the jail term was over. The family and the relatives of the victim are disappointed with the lack of legal assistance from the British High Commission in Colombo, news sources in Jaffna said.

In the meantime, a visiting British official in Jaffna, who was not prepared to attend the funeral, said on Saturday that the British High Commission doesn't provide legal advice to British nationals visiting the island. If the British nationals want legal advice, the High Commission could only suggest approaching a lawyer and could provide details of available lawyers, the official said.

The relatives of the victim say that the family wanted to get the body of Gopithas to UK to do an independent post-mortem under the British system. But, the British High Commission was not prepared to assist the family of the British national, who died under suspicious circumstances. Instead, the British High Commission was awaiting a local post-mortem report from the Sri Lankan authorities.

The wife and the children of the victim have arrived in Jaffna from UK.

The Sri Lankan Establishment maintains that Gopithas passed away due to heart attack at Welikade prison.

Northern Provincial Councillor Ms Ananthi Sasitharan, who was contacted by fellow prisoners, says that the Tamil prisoners at the jail were demanding proper investigation questioning the circumstances of the death.

Gopithas had narrowly escaped from a deadly attack inside the prison in November 2011 when Sinhala prisoners attacked Tamil inmates. He was also targeted again in 2012 January, informed relatives told TamilNet.

The funeral of the victim is to take place on Sunday at his native place of Manthikai in Vadamaraadchi, Jaffna.


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