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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 111

Maldives ready to transfer four Tigers to face trial in Sri Lanka

By Walter Jayawardhana

Male, 14 July, ( Four Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadres who are currently in a Maldivian jail, caught while smuggling weapons to Sri Lanka in a hijacked Indian trawler will be sent to Sri Lanka to stand trial as terrorists soon. Maldivian Foreign Minister Dr. Shaheed has announced that he would not stand in the way of transferring the LTTE cadres jailed for smuggling guns through Maldivian waters, also to stand trial in Colombo on additional charges of terrorism under Sri Lanka law.

The Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Male Mohamed Farooq has confirmed to a Maldivian news agency that he has had successful talks with the Maldivian Foreign Minister about the transfer of the prisoners and the Maldivian Foreign Minister has indicated that he would not stand in the way of a transfer of the terrorists to face a trial in Colombo.

Both men have played down the concerns of some pro-Tiger NGO’s that the LTTE prisoners would be at the risk of their lives in a Sri Lankan jail.

The international gun running fiasco occurred when the LTTE terrorists who are receiving the sympathy of the DMK led Tamil Nadu state government authorities, at the risk of the popularity they enjoyed in the state, hijacked an Indian trawler with 12 crew members, March 29, while the DMK party was blaming that on Sri Lanka. According to later evidence it was commandeered on high seas, to be used for gun running purposes for the ongoing insurgency in Sri Lanka.

The hijacked trawler was sunk by the Maldivian Coast Guard vessel twenty fours after one of the LTTE members on board had shot at a Maldivian fishing boat that approached the hijacked Indian trawler. Four surviving LTTE cadres were captured by the Maldivian authorities.

During a six week investigation, according to the Maldivian foreign ministry officials, the four cadres confessed they were men of the LTTE .In early July they also pleaded, according to Maldivian authorities, guilty of gun running in the Maldivian waters. A Maldivian court sentenced them to a jail term of 15 years.

At first the Maldivian authorities were reluctant to extradite them to Sri Lanka. But later, following discussions between the two governments the government reportedly changes their view.

The Sri Lanka High Commissioner in Male Farooq has said, “If we find they intended to commit terrorist acts in our country, we have the right to charge them with further crimes.”

Farooq denying that they will be tortured said there are very many LTTE prisoners spending their time in Sri Lankan jails and none of them are harmed.

Indian and Sri Lankan investigations have confirmed the trawler sunk by the Maldivian authorities was in fact the India registered “Sri Krishna” belonging to fishermen in Tamil Nadu. According to Simon Soza, a mechanic from Kerala, who had been taken by the Tamil Tigers on their gun running adventure to be used as a mechanic, before abandoning others as LTTE prisoners in a Tiger dominated jungle area in Sri Lanka, the Tamil Tiger terrorist group hijacked the vessel. After sinking the trawler, the other crewmen who were prisoners under the Tigers were released following some secret negotiations between the LTTE and the DMK authorities in Tamil Nadu.

The Maldivian authorities came to know the truth about the vessel when the mechanic jumped from the boat and told authorities it had been hijacked by the LTTE. (Tamil Tigers). As usual the LTTE denied they hijacked the vessel. But both the fishermen and the mechanic have given vivid descriptions about the hijacking. During the intended trial in Colombo more details of the gun running are expected to be heard.

- Asian Tribune -

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