News

LTTE releases policeman
By Saman Gamage

Sub Inspector Bandujeeva Weerasingha Bopitigoda was released from LTTE captivity yesterday but police defiantly kept him away from journalists, whisking him away amidst tight security, moments after his arrival home.

"We donít know what the hurry is," Bopitigodaís mother-in-law Kanthi Muthukuda was heard commenting. "We are seeing him after eleven months and they are rushing him away without letting him spend some time with us."

Meanwhile, the Tigers claimed that they were responding to a request for a "goodwill gesture" from outgoing SLMM chief Ulf Henricsson.

The LTTE had earlier promised to release Bopitigoda in July, when the state facilitated the transport of Tiger media coordinator Daya Master to Colombo for "urgent and essential medical treatment".

At the time, the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process made a request through SLMM for the release of Bopitigoda. A pro-LTTE website subsequently published a news item indicating his imminent release but it never transpired.

The captive was handed over to the SLMM at Kilinochchi yesterday morning and arrived at his brotherís home in Katana amid tight police security. Journalists spotted him inside the grey double-cab, wife by his side and daughter on his knee. However, police prevented him from leaving the vehicle due to media presence. Consequently, Bopitigodaís relatives crowded around the vehicle and chatted eagerly with him through the shutters.

"We were given orders that he should not be photographed or interviewed by the media," one policeman told journalists. When contacted, IGP Chandra Fernando denied that such a directive had been issued.

Shortly afterwards, Bopitigoda was escorted to his wifeís residence in Negombo. Here too, no photographs or interviews were permitted. He was then whisked to police headquarters.

"He will be handed over to us after his meeting at police headquarters and following an examination by the police hospital," said Padma Wettewa, NCPA chairperson.

Bopitigama was detained on 9 September 2005 when he and other investigators from the National Child Protection Authority pursued a suspected

 

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