The release of Tamil prisoners in detention under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) hit a snag as the prisoners refused to accept the flexible terms of parole the government has offered, Resettlement, Reconstruction and Hindu Religious Affairs Minister D.M. Swaminathan told the Sunday Observer.
The government offered a one-month commuted prison term and one year rehabilitation to over 60 of the 108 prisoners, apart from those charged by the court, but they refused the offer in the High Court, pleading not guilty and seeking a general presidential amnesty on the advice of their lawyers, the Minister said.
They had earlier agreed to the arrangement of parole during discussions the Minister and other judicial authorities had with them, the Minister said.
Leaders of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), families of prisoners, their representatives and also prisoners attended discussions where a consensus was reached on the flexible terms of release, Minister Swaminathan said.
Forty-eight of the 108 prisoners or suspects under the PTA are in remand prison and of the 39 enlarged on bail, 19 have been recommended by the Attorney General’s Department for a one-year commuted jail term and one-year rehabilitation, Ministry officials said.
Of the 19, only three have accepted the offer, while the others had turned it down in Court. Two of the 39 were acquitted and indictment in respect of one has been filed in the Trincomalee High Court.
A similar arrangement of a one-month prison term and one-year rehabilitation was offered to 21 others who had already been indicted but of them only three accepted the offer, while the others expressed readiness to face Court proceedings, Ministry officials said. The files of 20 suspects are before the AG for further investigations, they said.