“There are no political prisoners in the country’s prisons” says the Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe.
Rajapakshe said that around 220 LTTE suspects are being held in prisons while adding that in some cases verdicts have been delivered and in some legal action were pending.
“The prisoners are ones who are held for aiding and abetting the activities of LTTE terrorists. They are not political prisoners” Rajapakshe told the media last night.
He was referring to the hunger strike launched by a group of Tamil Prisoners, identified by Tamil political parties and others as those who are being held for political reasons.
Rajapakshe said that the Justice Ministry cannot take any decisions on the fasting prisoners alone and any decision should be taken with the concurrence of all stakeholders.
Meanwhile the hunger strike launched by the prisoners continued for a third day.
The fasting prisoners had also condemned a letter sent by Northern Provincial Council Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran to the President suggesting several measures to overcome the issue.
The prisoners have objected to Wigneswaran’s suggestion that the government should initiate legal action if there are any credible charges against any of the suspects.
However, Wigneswaran also had called on the government to immediately release all prisoners against whom there are no such charges.
Prisoners however have said that all the suspects should be given a general amnesty without any legal action.
Meanwhile a protest by Tamil political party leaders calling the government to release the prisoners was held in front of the Fort Railway station today.
Tamil prisoners, including former LTTE cadres at the main high security prison in Colombo have started a hunger strike on Monday demanding the immediate release of Tamil political prisoners.
The prisoners called for a pardon and refused to suspend the fast till they get an acceptable solution. They have handed over a letter to the Prisons Commissioner General Rohana Pushpakumara to deliver to the President demanding their release.
According to Tamil political leaders, at least 300 Tamil political prisoners arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act are in jails across the island.