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After 15 years, three Tamil political prisoners are finally freed

A group of Tamil political prisoners who had been detained for almost 15 years have been released this morning, after a Sri Lankan court found no evidence linking them to a 2006 explosion in Colombo.

Colombo High Court Judge Mahen Weeraman this morning ordered the release of all three Tamil men; Yogarajah Nirojan, Subramaniam Surendraraja and Kanagaratnam Adithya.

They men had all been detained in the aftermath of a 2006 explosion in Colombo that killed at least seven persons, including four Sri Lankan special commandos of Special Diplomatic Security Unit, who were providing VVIP escort to the vehicle of Pakistani High Commissioner in Sri Lanka.

No evidence was brought forward that actually linked the three men to the explosion.

Dozens of Tamils remain detained by the Sri Lankan state, with many held without charge.

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Tamil political prisoner acquitted after 15 years in Sri Lankan jail

The Sri Lankan government claimed that the LTTE was behind the 2006 blast, though no group ever claimed responsibility.

The Pakistani High Commissioner, Col (retd) Bashir Wali Mohammed, had earlier served as head of Intelligence operations in the Pakistani High Commission in Colombo during the 1990s.

Two weeks after the blast Wali Mohammed that India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), was behind blast, accusing India of "starting a proxy war in a third country [Sri Lanka] by carrying out this lethal attack".

"The Indian High Commission in Colombo is quite disturbed with the fast-growing bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and Pakistan," he added. "I even visited the North, and if the LTTE wanted to kill me, they could have struck at any time… But apparently, they were disinterested in harming me".

Read more: 

Indian intelligence, not LTTE, targeted Pakistan envoy

“Pakistan is one of Sri Lanka's main military suppliers against in its war against the rebels and has recently made strong declarations of support for Colombo,” reported the New York Times.

A report in the Asia Times on the blast noted that “defense cooperation between Sri Lanka and Pakistan, which has existed for a long time, has grown dramatically in recent years”.

Sudha Ramachandran went on to report:

"According to a report in Jane's Defense Weekly, Sri Lanka had given Pakistan a shopping list of weaponry worth about US$60 million. While the army's list was pegged at about $20 million, that of the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) was said to be worth about $38.1 million. A recent Stratfor report says Pakistan sold 22 Al-Khalid tanks to Sri Lanka in a deal worth some $110 million.

What has set alarm bells ringing in Delhi now are reports that Pakistani air force personnel are deeply involved in directing Colombo's air strikes on Tamil areas. B Raman, a former director of RAW, has pointed out that "about 12-15 members of the Pakistani armed forces, including four or five from the Pakistan air force, are stationed in Colombo to guide the Sri Lankan security forces in their counter-insurgency operations. The Pakistan air force officers have reportedly been guiding the SLAF officers in effectively carrying out air-mounted operations against the LTTE. They have also been reportedly involved in drawing up plans for a decapitation strike from the air, with bunker-buster bombs, to kill [LTTE leader Velupillai] Prabakaran."

"Not only are the Pakistanis guiding the air operations, there are reports too that Pakistani pilots are flying SLAF jets," alleged the Indian official. The bombing of civilian targets could have been carried out by some of these pilots, he pointed out.

Read the full piece: ‘The Pakistani muscle behind Colombo’ (Asia Times, 2006)

The LTTE had long alleged Pakistani support for the Sri Lankan military.

In 1997, they released a statement alleging "Pakistani officials converged at Sri Lanka's Anuradhapura army headquarters immediately prior to the launch of the military offensive, which has now run into difficulties following Tuesday's LTTE strike at Thandikulam."

Read the full piece: Pakistan joins other foreigners in Sri Lanka's war (TamilNet, 1997)

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