Crime & Justice

Sri Lanka court acquits main accused in killing of Tamil leader

Colombo, Jan 13 (efe-epa)- A Sri Lankan court on Wednesday acquitted and released a parliamentarian accused of the killing of Joseph Pararajasingham, a senior leader of Sri Lanka’s largest Tamil political party, in 2005.

The High Court of Batticaloa dismissed the case after the Attorney General’s Department withdrew charges against the main accused, Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, and four other suspects earlier this week.

Pararajagingham was killed on Dec.25, 2005 by unidentified armed men who shot him as he came out after attending Christmas Mass in the town of Batticaloa in the eastern part of the island.

Pararajagingham was with his wife who was injured along with eight others by the exchange of gunfire between the gunmen and the Tamil leader’s security personnel.

Pararajagingham was the vice president of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), a party that he represented in parliament.

The authorities blamed the attack on an offshoot of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) guerrilla group.

Chandrakanthan, a former LTTE member and newly elected parliamentarian, was arrested in October 2015 for his alleged connection to the murder, and released on bail on Nov.24 last year after winning a seat in the Sri Lankan parliament.

Since the coming to power of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, several high-profile cases have been dismissed, including the killing of eight Tamil refugees in 2000 at the hands of security forces.

Former Sri Lanka Army Staff Sergeant Sunil Rathnayaka was sentenced to death in June 2015 by a High Court for his involvement in the Mirusuvil massacre in 2000, but was pardoned by the new government.

“This is just the start of worse things waiting to happen,” parliamentarian Rasamanickam R. Shanakiyan of Batticaloa district told EFE.

The nonprofit Human Right Watch, in its report on Wednesday, denounced that the “human rights situation has seriously deteriorated” in Sri Lanka especially against the Muslim and Tamil communities under the administration of President Rajapaksa.

Chandrakanthan was elected as a member of parliament last year, and his case caught public attention again when he was granted permission to attend parliamentary sessions. EFE-EPA

ap-igr/sc

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