by Saman Indrajith
Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, PC, yesterday said the government wouldn’t release those who had been convicted on terrorism charges.
He stressed that those who had been charged in courts, too, wouldn’t released.
The President’s Counsel was responding to an allegation that the release of hardcore LTTE terrorists would pose a serious threat to national security.
Addressing the media at the Parliamentary complex, MP Rajapakse said that among the LTTE cadres in custody were 56 found guilty of committing offences listed under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
The minister said that the government was considering the release of only 24 LTTE cadres against whom charges hadn’t been filed but kept in custody in connection with minor offences.
The minister said that of 243 persons who had been held under the PTA, 39 had been released in November. Of the remaining 204 LTTE cadres, 56 had been convicted while there were ongoing trials against 124 others.
Minister Rajapakshe said that the government would not interfere in these cases and the court would decide their fate.
There was absolutely no basis for claims that the convicted LTTE cadres were to be released, the Justice Minister stressed.
He said that Mahinda Rajapaksa government had released 390 LTTE suspects and 140 others accused of similar offences including three hardcore LTTE cadres from the suicide wing. The three cadres had come to kill former President Rajapaksa himself, the Justice Minister said. They had been released without proper investigations.
The minister said that if the release of suicide cadres who had come to assassinate the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa wasn’t a security threat there couldn’t be anything wrong in releasing LTTE suspects in the custody over six years after the conclusion of the war.
The Minister also said that the government would abolish the PTA to pave the way for new anti terrorism law in keeping with international standards. The abolition of the PTA was in accordance with an assurance given by the government to the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council, he said.