July 07, Colombo: The leader of Sri Lanka's major Tamil party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) R. Sampanthan making a special statement in the parliament yesterday urged the government to pardon all the Tamil Tiger terrorist suspects, who he described as political prisoners, without prosecuting them.
He said that a suspect who was injured in an alleged attack that took place amid a prison riot died later and the reason for the death was not announced. Violating human rights the body of the detainee was not handed over to the family for burial, he added.
Sampanthan also said that several detainees have been severely injured in the assault and another prisoner is in a coma.
The suspected Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) detainees last week took three prison officials at the Vavuniya Prison in the North hostage when the police tried to escort out a detainee from the prison under a court order.
A combined police and Special Task Force operation rescued the three hostages a day later and several prisoners received injuries during the operation. A 29-year-old LTTE detainee injured in the rescue operation succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday.
TNA Leader told the parliament that the government had failed to expedite the judicial process with regard to the prosecution of these despite assurances to do so.
"If the legal proceedings could not be initiated against those who are kept in detention, why not release them under an amnesty? Tamil political detainees are being tortured and this raises serious human right concerns," he said.
Prisons Reforms and Rehabilitation Minister Chandrasiri Gajadeera has pointed out that the government had no choice but to act when prisoners hold prison guards hostage.
"I insist that not a single bullet was fired when an operation was launched by the STF. Prisoners had in their possession iron clubs, chains and various other weapons and assaulted those STF men who engaged in the rescue operation. They had mobile phones with international direct dialing facilities in their possession," the Minister has said.
Following the incident Vavuniya prison officials took measures to transfer 28 LTTE prisoners at the prison to other prisons.
During a search operation carried out in the prison after the incident, the STF recovered 54 satellite mobile phones, additional batteries, sim cards, other communication equipment, iron bars, knives and cash.
The Minister recently told the media that the recent uproar by the LTTE suspects at the Vavuniya Prison had been orchestrated by the international LTTE network.