SLMM to seek Norwegian help for release of soldier, policeman

by Namini Wijedasa
Vexed over the LTTE’s continued defiance of its directives, the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) yesterday said it would ask the Norwegian facilitators to intervene on behalf of a soldier and a policeman being held in Tiger jail.

"It is not enough to promise, the LTTE must now act," said Hagrup Haukland, deputy head of mission. The SLMM has made several representations to the LTTE over the issue and had even yesterday spoken to Pulithevan, a senior political leader.

"He said they would look into the matter," Haukland said. "It is not enough to look into a problem, they must do something about it."

Haukland said the issue would now be taken up with the Norwegian government, though he couldn’t immediately say when.

"Maybe today, maybe tomorrow... but we will do it pretty soon," he said.

The ceasefire agreement does not specify what action can be taken if either party refuses or fails to comply with an SLMM ruling.

The soldier and policeman continued to languish in jail although the LTTE had promised the SLMM to set them free in exchange for the release of the seven armed LTTE cadres detained in government territory. The navy released the men — detected in Kuchchuveli, Trincomalee — on Monday night after the SLMM conveyed the LTTE’s promise to the relevant parties.

However, the LTTE did not keep its pledge. "The men were not released," Haukland said yesterday morning. The LTTE’s defiance came despite a strong statement by the SLMM urging the Tigers to set the two men free. Corporal Kumara has been in Tiger custody since December 24 while Reserve Police Constable Sumith Ananda was detained last week. Both had strayed into Tiger territory.