Hardcore Tigers among detainees identified, legal action awaited

By Shamindra Ferdinando


The police and security forces have so far identified 737 hardcore terrorists among 11,686 LTTE cadres who surrendered. They are being held separately from others undergoing rehabilitation at different government-run centres.

A senior military official said on Monday (July 26) that those involved in major terrorist attacks would have to be legally dealt with. He said hardcore terrorists could not be released along with ordinary LTTE combatants, as they could pose a security threat. Brigadier Sudantha Ranasinghe, Commissioner General of Rehabilitation said that the 737 ex-LTTE personnel were among 7,948 persons held by authorities. He said that they were all men. Asked by The Island whether among the detained terrorists were Yogiratnam Yogi, one-time LTTE negotiator and Balakumaran of the EROS, who threw his weight behind Velupillai Prabhakaran, Brig. Ranasinghe said that he did not have them.

After the conclusion of the war in May last year, the military with the support of the police questioned surrendered LTTE cadres to establish their involvement in terrorist operations. Senior police officials said that they had an opportunity to use LTTE informants to identify hardcore terrorists taking cover among civilians. They said that terrorists had fled their frontline positions as the army advanced into their territory and sought refuge in the government-held area. They said a sizeable group among them had voluntarily accepted their involvement, while others made an attempt to secure IDP status.

Rehabilitation and Law Reforms Minister Dew Gunasekera told The Island that there were two categories of LTTE cadres in government custody. He said: "There are about 600 to 700 men and women arrested over a period of time by successive governments. Among them are persons held in connection with high profile assassination bids targeting VIPs. The second category comprises those, who were taken in during the final phase of Eelam war IV."

Minister Gunasekera said that they would make every effort to expedite cases of those held on terrorism charges. Acknowledging the difficult task ahead, he said that Tamil political parties continued to take up the issue regularly in Parliament.

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa recently told The Island that a section of the international community constantly raised the issue to step up pressure on the government. Referring to ongoing efforts to rehabilitate LTTE combatants and resettle the war displaced, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said that those involved in serious incidents had to be prosecuted.

Government sources said that the International Organisation for Migration was involved in their programme to rehabilitate LTTE cadres. A spokesperson for IOM told The Island: "We were requested by the Government of Sri Lanka to support its efforts towards implementing programmes to integrating former LTTE/TMVP cadres into civilian life in both the Eastern and Northern Provinces. We do so through the implementation of direct support programmes to former LTTE/TMVP cadres as well as the provision of technical assistance to the Commissioner General for Rehabilitation (CGR)."

"IOM’s support includes tailor made assistance through the provision of employment opportunities, creation of income-generation avenues, vocational training and civic education based on face to face personalised interviews where we identify the actual needs and the level of skill and capacity to meet them."

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