09/06/2006, 00.00
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Jaffna bishop in appeal about Fr Jim Brown

In a letter to Mahinda Rajapakse, Mgr Thomas Savundaranayagam asked for news and help regarding a Catholic priest and his assistant. "If they have been arrested by the Navy, they should appear before a court."

Jaffna (AsiaNews/ICNS) – The bishop of Jaffna has appealed to the president of Sri Lanka to "help locate a Catholic priest and a layman who disappeared mid-August while in a Navy-controlled area".

In a letter to Mahinda Rajapakse, the Jaffna bishop said: "We have no information as yet whether they are alive or not. They went into an area under the control of the Navy at Allapiddy, Kayts on 20 August and they have not been sighted since then."

The bishop said that "if they have been arrested by the Navy or are being charged for any offence, they should be produced before the courts."

The two men, Fr Jim Brown and his assistant Vimalathas were last seen at a military checkpoint in Allaipiddy, where Fr Jim was the parish priest. Catholic priests in Jaffna claim Fr Jim had received death threats from the commanding officer of Allaipiddy Naval Camp. The commander, named Nishantha, had accused Fr Jim of helping the rebel Tamil Tigers to dig bunkers around his parish church earlier this month, when Allaipiddy became a battleground between the security forces and rebels.

In his letter, Mgr Savundaranayagam demanded an impartial judicial inquiry, independent of the security forces, "to elicit the truth behind this disappearance immediately since these two lives are considered at stake."

The bishop said this was the "second letter seeking the President's intervention in this matter, to receive a suitable answer to the vexing problem, affecting the whole of the clergy of Jaffna."

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See also
Jaffna Catholics tell government: tell us "truth" about missing priest
Pope talks about the Middle East, the Holy Land and the food crisis with Bush
Mutilated body found in Jaffna, fears it might that of missing Fr Jim Brown
Special commission to investigate disappearance of Jaffna priest
Jaffna: two priests leave parish under threat


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