Sri Lanka military “has no records” of arrested senior Tamil Tiger leader

Shattering hopes of victims who sought assistance of the domestic justice system to help establish the fate of their disappeared loved ones, a court in Sri Lanka was told that the military has no records of a senior Tamil rebel leader arrested at the bloody conclusion of the country’s civil war.

Northern Provincial Council (NPC) Minister Ananthy Sasitharan petitioned to courts almost four years ago to find her husband Sinnathurai Sasitharan widely known as Elilan, whom she handed over to the military on 18 May 2009.

Elilan, who functioned as the Eastern Trincomalee district political leader of the the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), was taken into custody by the 58th brigade at Mulaitivu, the NPC minister  maintained.

On the final day of the judicial inquiry into the disappearance, Major General Chanakya Gunawardena of the Sri Lanka military informed the magistrate court in the north eastern town of Mullaitivu  that the military had concluded that Elilan is not in military custody.

Sri Lanka military has arrived at that conclusion after examining the list of Tamils who were released from detention following state rehabilitation.

Therefore, Elilan was "neither arrested, made to disappear or rehabilitated," said the Major General Gunawardena who is the present commander of the 58th Brigade.

Upon cross questioning, he confirmed that the military did not carry out any further investigations to find out the senior LTTE leader.


The lawyer representing Ananthy Sasitharan denounces the commander's statement as irresponsible.

Following the hearing, attorney at law KS Ratnavale told journalists in Sri Lanka that the response of the military commander displays "callous disregard to the life of a human being who has disappeared".

Minister Sasitharan vowed to carry on with the struggle to find the fate of her husband whom she "gave to the military with my own hands while tens of thousands were looking on".

"This is not only about me and my husband," she told journalists after the hearing. "This is about justice for thousands of Tamils who are enduring years of untold suffering."

Mullativu magistrate MSM Samsudeen referred the findings of the judicial investigation to the Vavunia high court for further hearing on 9 November.

An international human rights organisation have recorded testimonies from witness alleging Brigadier Shavendra Silva who led the 58th brigade of receiving LTTE leaders  who surrendered.

White flags

LTTE political wing leader Balasingham Nadesan and Peace Secretary Seevaratnam Pulithevan have been among those who approached the military with white flags.

JDS has credible evidence published in several international media outlets, that Balachandran, the son of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and female rebel journalist Isaipriya who were in Sri Lanka military custody were later found executed.

Family members whose loved ones have disappeared during the war and its aftermath have been continuing with their protests in the north for the seventh month demanding answers.

The UN among many other rights bodies have criticised the military rehabilitation programme as an arbitrary and discriminatory form of detention with torture.



Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  • JDS is the Sri Lankan partner organization of international media rights group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The launching of this website was made possible by the EU’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), of which Reporters Without Borders is a beneficiary.