The former Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, popularly known as Pillayan, has been arrested in connection with the assassination of TNA Member of Parliament Joseph Pararajasingham in December 2005.
Mr. Pararajasingham was shot dead when he was attending a Christmas mass in Batticaloa.
Police department spokesperson Ruwan Gunasekara told The Hindu that a team of officials from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) went to Mr. Chandrakanthan’s house in Batticaloa on Saturday but did not find him there. “Around 5 p.m. on Sunday, he came to the CID office in Colombo along with his lawyer and surrendered himself before the authorities. He was subsequently arrested.”
Two others were also taken into custody, Mr. Gunasekara added.
Mr. Chandrakanthan, once a child soldier in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), attracted international attention when he became the first elected Chief Minister of the Eastern Province in May 2008 and held the post for four years. He and Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, also known as ‘Colonel’ Karuna, rebelled against the LTTE leadership in March 2004 and formed the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP). Three years later, he took control of the party.
Prisoners on fast
Meanwhile, about 200 Tamil prisoners, booked under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, were reported to have begun a fast on Monday demanding that they be released. They are in various jails across the country. The Prison department’s top official, M.B.R. Pushapakumara, was not available for comment.
Reacting to the development, K. Sivagnanam, chairman of the Northern Provincial Council, urged President Maithripala Sirisena to grant a general amnesty to the prisoners who, he said, had been in jail for eight to 15 years. Recalling that the Council adopted a resolution in November last year on the issue, he said the prisoners have been in jails without “facing a fair trial or judicial process.”