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Jaffna University lecturer remains detained despite acquittal from forced LTTE recruitment charges

Jaffna University music lecturer and former LTTE cadre Kanesasundaram Kannadasan, has been remanded under the heavily disputed Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), despite the Court of Appeal (CoA) overturning a life sentence last year. Kannadasan was charged for allegedly recruiting "child soldiers" and facilitating forced abductions and awaits a retrial hearing next week.

The former director of Tamil Eelam College of Fine Arts had his life sentence quashed on the 22nd July 2019, following two years of appeals and even though the media reported that he was released on the day, this was proved to be false.

Last week, a High Court judge ordered Kannadasan to be summoned before court on Monday 7th September. The indictment of his charges has been passed onto the Vavuniya High Court for a retrial and re-examination of charges.

Kannadasan, who was regarded as one of the most well-renowned miruthangam artists in Jaffna, surrendered to the Sri Lankan army at the end of the armed conflict and later undertook the government’s “rehabilitation program” and was released. He was the director of Tamil Eelam College of Fine Arts while he was a member of the LTTE’s political division. He then later became a music lecturer at Jaffna University, during which a legal case was instigated against him.

In March 2014, the mother of Manjula Vijayabalan, a child whom had been allegedly forcibly recruited by the LTTE, claimed in 2017 that Kannadasan kidnapped and compelled her daughter into joining the LTTE in Killinochchi.  

The following year, Kannadasan was arrested under the PTA and interrogated for several months by the Sri Lankan Terrorist Investigation Department (TID). During a trial in 2017, a Vavuniya High Court ruling found he was found guilty on charges of forcibly abducting people for the LTTE and issued a life sentence.

Following the sentence, MA Sumanthiran, who represented Kannadasan, successfully appealed to the CoA to have his life sentence rescinded after two years of continuous appeals.

The Sri Lankan government has stated that the case will be reassessed and that a bail application will be considered on behalf of Kannadasan in the Vavuniya High Court. However he could not be acquitted as he was charged under the PTA and awaits his trial next week for further clarification on his fate.

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