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Tamil political prisoner acquitted after 12 years in Sri Lankan jail

On Monday, a Tamil political prisoner, detained under the widley condemned Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) for 12 years without charge, was released from Welikada Prison after being acquitted by Monaragala Magistrate's Court. 

Kapilan Kathiravelu from Amparai was incarcerated as a teenager at just 17 years old, in 2009 over alleged links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) according to a statement released by the Voice of the Voiceless.

He was detained and interrogated by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) for over 1.5 years until he was produced before court in 2011 and remanded. 

Recently, the court acquitted Kapilan after his lawyer successfully argued there was insufficient evidence for the guilt of the accused. At 29 years old, Kapilan was reunited with his family after being released on Monday afternoon.

The acquittal of a Tamil political prisoner follows the conclusion of the EU delegation visit of Sri Lanka, as part of its GSP+ review process, where Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa claimed that he would undertake immediate steps to reform the PTA.

In June, the Sri Lankan government granted presidential pardons to 16 alleged "former members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)" which Human Rights Watch “welcomed” but called an "empty gesture" that failed to address the need to repeal the PTA. 

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