S. Vijay Kumar

MADURAI: The case relating to the seizure of high-power explosives from a suspected Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) boat has been transferred to the `Q' Branch police.

On February 13, the Coast Guard intercepted a fibreglass boat in mid-sea off the Kodiakarai coast. Five persons including an Indian who were found on board with an AK-56 assault rifle, ammunition, grenades and a satellite phone, were taken into custody. The boat was towed to Chennai the next day and anchored off the port for a week.

Custodial interrogation of the suspects by State intelligence revealed that the boat, its walls lined witha large quantity of TNT and RDX, was on a suicide mission against warships in Kankesanthurai port in the Jaffna peninsula. After obtaining judicial sanction, security personnel towed the boat to the sea and exploded it.

Since there are hardly any further seizures or arrests expected to be made in the case, it is likely that the investigators will file the charge sheet soon. But for the details of calls made and received on the satellite phone, the investigation is almost complete. The suspects face charges under the Arms Act, 1959; the Explosive Substances Act, 1908 and the Foreigners Act.

"The case has just been transferred to us. It is too early to comment on the scope of further investigation at this stage," a `Q' Branch official said.

Intelligence sources told The Hindu that two `Black Tiger' cadres who were among those arrested were part of a contingent of `Sea Tigers' that met a top LTTE leader weeks before their arrest at an "undisclosed" destination. "It is a convention that `Black Tigers' and other members of suicide squads have a lunch or dinner meeting with LTTE chief V. Prabhakaran, before embarking on missions. These suspects also had links with top LTTE leaders," a police official said.

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