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Tamil Tigers seek arrest inquiry
Colombo, Aug 9 (Agencies):
Published on 10 Aug. 2009 1:18 AM IST
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Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels have called for an investigation into the overseas arrest and subsequent repatriation of their new leader. The government announced on Friday that Selvarasa Pathmanathan had been returned from an Asian nation. Some reports suggested he had been arrested in Thailand, but the rebels say he was abducted in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. The Tigers urged the international community to ensure his safety. “We call upon the international community to become involved in this matter in order to assure the safety and security of Mr Pathmanathan according to international standards, and to facilitate access to legal representation,” their statement said. The Interpol notice against Mr Pathmanathan lists nearly 40 aliases used by him and says he used forged passports from five countries, including Switzerland and Eritrea. It is said that he moved around the world, especially South East Asia, quite brazenly. Even before the killing of his senior colleagues, Mr Pathmanathan was seen as a lynchpin of the Tigers - the man who oversaw its weapons purchases, fundraising and money-laundering. No wonder the government wanted to capture him and prime him for information. In a secure, secret location, it is now doing just that, gratified that its appeal to Asian governments to look out for him has borne fruit. The Tigers also demanded an inquiry into how their leader was arrested. According to them, he was seized near a hotel in Kuala Lumpur. They suspect, reports the BBC’s Charles Haviland from Colombo, that this was carried out by Sri Lanka’s military intelligence, supported by parts of the Malaysian establishment. Sri Lanka’s government has said only that Mr Pathmanathan was held earlier this week in Asia, returned to the country and is being interrogated. Thai officials have denied the arrest took place on their territory. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told journalists he could neither confirm nor deny the report. “If the government of Malaysia does not have any information on the matter, we demand an inquiry into the whole episode,” the Tigers said. Mr Pathmanathan became the leader of the remnants of the Tigers after their defeat in May by Sri Lankan military forces. He is believed to have run the group’s arms procurement and smuggling networks, and was wanted by Interpol. He is also wanted in India in connection with the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by a suspected Tamil female suicide bomber in 1991. But as the new rebel leader, Mr Pathmanathan said the Tigers would try non-violent methods to achieve their goal of a separate state for the Tamil minority. On Friday, defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said Mr Pathmanathan’s arrest was “very, very significant”. He said that while Mr Pathmanathan was still at large, many people thought the Tamil Tigers were still “alive and kicking”.

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