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Sri Lanka under pressure to clarify circumstances of Tamil Tiger leader capture

[Telegraph, Monday, 10 August 2009 15:37 No Comment]

SelvarasaPathmanat_1459614c Pathmanathan, formerly the LTTE’s chief fundraiser and arms supplier, was reported to have been seized from a hotel in Kuala Lumpur by a Sri Lankan intelligence team acting with support from Malaysian officials. His capture has dealt a serious blow to the LTTE’s hopes of regrouping as a political force.

Diplomats in Colombo said Pathmanathan had not faced an extradition hearing while human rights campaigners said they feared he could be tortured in detention. They compared his arrest with American ‘rendition’ detentions.

According to Tamil sources, Pathmanathan had left his home in Bangkok, where he is believed to live with his Thai wife and daughter, for a meeting with other senior LTTE figures. One was Balasingham Balendran, the brother of the Tigers’ former political chief, Nadesan, and Nadesan’s son, both of whom are understood to be based in London.

According to the D B S Jeyaraj, an influential Tamil commentator with close links to LTTE leadership figures, Pathmanathan had been in a room at Kuala Lumpur’s First Tune Hotel when he received a call and left the room to continue his conversation. He never returned to his guests. His caller has said he had heard a ‘thud’ on the line and a commotion before the line went dead.

The LTTE has denounced his arrest as an act of state terrorism, but there had been an Interpol warrant for his arrest for sometime. It is understood that the Sri Lankan government had intensified moves to track the former gun-runner and financier with the appointment of a senior brigadier as deputy high commissioner to Malaysia specifically tasked with his extradition.

The Malaysian authorities have so far refused to comment on his arrest, while Human Rights Watch has called for an explanation of how he was deported, and expressed concern for his welfare in Sri Lankan custody.

"The Sri Lankans do not have a good reputation on the treatment of terrorism suspects. We’re approaching the Sri Lankan government and Kuala Lumpur for further information. We remain concerned about the detention process. He should have received the [proper] judicial process before a court," 

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