11th July, 2004  Volume 10, Issue 52


















Minister confirms Karuna link

A government minister last week admitted that he was continuing to have links with former LTTE Eastern Commander Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan alias Colonel Karuna even after President Chandrika Kumaratunga told the Norwegian facilitators that the government was not helping the renegade leader.

To prove his claim, Minister Douglas Devananda called Karuna in the presence of the journalists. "I have continued to have telephone conversations with Karuna. He is in Sri Lanka and is in Batticaloa," Devananda told The Sunday Leader. Devananda speaking to Karuna on the telephone invited the journalists to listen in to confirm he was in fact in touch with the LTTE renegade commander. Karuna according to Devananda had said he had tried to call him on several occasions that day but could not get through on the mobile. Minister Devananda also showed documentation which he claimed he was preparing to register a political party for Karuna

The document in Devananda's possession gave the name of Karuna's party as "The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (Karuna wing)" and the symbol was a singing fish.

His claims follow warnings by LTTE Political Wing Head, S. P. Tamilselvan during talks with Norwegian special envoy Erik Solhiem two weeks ago that if the government continues to have links with Karuna it would seriously jeopardise the peace process.

Meanwhile, the battle between the LTTE and Karuna supporters intensified last week with the arrest of 14 Tamil youth in Hingurakgoda at a Buddhist temple. The youths had automatic weapons in their possession but were bailed out. The LTTE political office in Batticaloa said that the youth were Karuna supporters on their way to Thoppigala and accused the military intelligence of supporting the group.

Three vehicles; 57-2667, YuHa 8967 and YuHa 5299 were sent to Hingurakgoda to transport the youth by the army intelligence, according to reports. The attempt proved futile since by the time the vehicles were on their way, the police had already made the arrests. However, Military Spokesperson Colonel Sumedha Perera rejected the charges.

In another incident in LTTE controlled areas in Batticaloa, two suspected Karuna supporters were publicly executed on July 8. They were caught along with two others with arms and the LTTE said that the weapons were similar to those used by the armed forces.   The four had said that they took part in two attacks against LTTE offices in the east.


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