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Arrested, tortured and finally acquitted after 13 years

A Tamil youth who was arrested by Sri Lankan authorities under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in 2009 and tortured, has finally been acquitted of all charges today.

Sundaralingam Ketheeswaran from Kaluvanchikudy in Batticaloa was just 21-years-old when he was arrested under the draconian PTA on March 18, 2009.

Sri Lankan authorities claimed that he was a “member of a terrorist organisation” and had killed 2 policemen.

“At the time of his arrest, he was travelling in a bus plying from Akkaripathttu to Pothuvil,” said the Court of Appeal. “He had no identity card and only had in his possession a packet of biscuits and Rs. 340/- in cash.”

Ketheeswaran was detained in Boosa and tortured, eventually producing a false confession. It was the only piece of evidence authorities used to convict him in 2017 – eight years from when he was first arrested. The High Court Judge of Monaragala gave him a life sentence.

But earlier today, the Court of Appeal acquitted him of all charges.

See more from JDS Lanka here.

The PTA has long been used by Sri Lanka to arbitrarily detain Tamils, including in recent months. Last year, a group of Tamils were arrested under the act for holding a memorial event to mark the Mullivaikkal massacres. They were detained for almost 7 months before being released.

Read more in our editorial: The same old act

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