Sri Lankan Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe slammed calls for the release of political prisoners, stating that all those held in government custody were “convicted members of the LTTE, suspected members of the group with indictments or cases pending”.
The minister’s comments were in response to an appeal by US Secretary of State John Kerry, and repeated calls from Tamils, to release political prisoners who are being held in custody.
Mr Rajapakshe told The Island the new government had immediately compiled a list of all political prisoners once they came into power earlier this year, and found only a few hundred people were imprisoned.
"Fifty four persons who had been convicted on terrorism charges were serving prison terms; indictments were being prepared against 85 persons; cases were pending against 134 persons; eight given bail and 45 convicts released through courts after rehabilitation," said Mr Rajapakshe.
There was “absolutely no basis for accusations pertaining to operation of secret detention camps over six years after the conclusion of the conflict” he reportedly told the Island adding that “detainees’ families were aware of the whereabouts of their loved ones”.
Meanwhile a senior government official, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Island that the US Secretary of State wouldn’t have called for the release of remaining political prisoners without being advised to by the US embassy in Colombo. “Perhaps, we should brief the Colombo based diplomatic community as regards those who had been convicted as well as other categories of LTTE suspects in custody,” added the official.