Former minister and rebel LTTE leader Karuna arrested

November 29, 2016 03:10 pm | Updated 10:51 pm IST - Colombo

Rebel LTTE leader, Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna. File photo.

Rebel LTTE leader, Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna. File photo.

Sri Lankan investigators on Tuesday arrested Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, better known as Karuna Amman, a former LTTE leader who was later a government minister, on charges of corruption during the previous Mahinda Rajapaksa regime.

Colonel Karuna — his nom de guerre — who commanded the LTTE in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province, defected from the organisation in 2004 to begin his own political outfit, the Tamil Eela Peoples’ Liberation Tigers. He later joined former President Rajapaksa and served as minister in his government, drawing severe criticism from the LTTE for being “a traitor” who abandoned the movement to join the State whose armed forces they were fighting.

Karuna was Deputy Minister of National Integration in the Rajapaksa administration but has held no political position since January 2015, when Maithripala Sirisena unseated Mr. Rajapaksa in the presidential elections.

On Tuesday, the Financial Crimes Investigations Division of the Sri Lankan government reportedly questioned Karuna for hours, for allegedly misusing a State vehicle. Later, Colombo’s Chief Magistrate remanded him till December 7.

In 2007, Karuna was arrested and remanded in Britain on charges of immigration offences.

Karuna’s name has also figured among those charged of war crimes — including forcefully recruiting children — committed during Sri Lanka’s 30 year-long ethnic conflict.

Once a powerful LTTE leader, he later saw himself as one of the “architects” of the rebel Tigers’ fall, according to an interview he gave to the WashingtonPost months before the war ended.

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