08/07/2009, 00.00
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New Tamil Tiger chief arrested

by Melani Manel Perera
Official sources report that an operation in Thai territory led to the arrest of Kumaran Pathmanathan. Sri Lankans are divided over the matter. Some want him to reintegrate the nation’s political process; others want him dead. But independent sources have not yet confirmed the information.
Colombo (AsiaNews) – The new leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Kumaran Pathmanathan was arrested in Thailand yesterday, official sources in Colombo reported.  They added that the head of the Tamil Tigers rebel group defeated a few months ago by a massive military offensive has already been moved to Sri Lanka where he is being interrogated.  

According to local sources, Sri Lankan authorities sent a team from their Police Terrorist Investigation Department (PTID) to Thailand in the early hours of the yesterday after they received a report indicating the leader’s presence in that country.

After agents picked up Kumaran Pathmanathan, better known as KP, they flew him back on special flight landing at Katunayake Airport. When he got off the plane the rebel leader was handcuffed and had a mask covering his head and face.

In the past India had also issued a worldwide warrant for his arrest for conspiracy, weapons trafficking, breach of India’s Anti-terrorism Act and involvement in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.

On hearing the news Sri Lankans began coming down on different sides of the issue. Some believe it is just a rumour. Others suggest that if the information is confirmed the rebel leader should be brought into the country’s politics the way other rebel leaders were, including Karuna Amman and Pillayan. Some instead would like to seem him end up like his predecessor Prabkakaran, who was killed by the military back in May.

Anglican clergyman M. Sathivel said he is against the arrest because it “goes against bringing the rebel movement into the country’s political process.”

Herman Kumara, convener of the National Fisheries Solidarity (NAFSO), noted that “Pathmanathan had told the media that they [his group] would try non-violent ways to achieve their goal”.

For Anthony Pillai, a Tamil involved in the private sector in Colombo, “anyone who liked the rebel leader’s stated intent to engage in non violent politics cannot now justify or be happy about the arrest.”

The head of a human rights group in Sri Lanka’s capital said that “it is too early to say anything on the matter because the government only announced the arrest today. The news has not been confirmed by any independent sources.”

In a recent statement Nation-building Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said that officials from the Defence Ministry will treat Kumaran Pathmanathan “in accordance with domestic laws and international norms.”

For his part Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has ordered his country’s security agencies to look into news reports about the arrest which was carried out in Thai territory.

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See also
Government sets up Tamil committee, a trick for the opposition
Tamil refugees going home to an open prison
President Rajapaksa’s alliance wins in local elections, doubts cast over their fairness
Refugees flee Tamil Tigers, but are corralled into government centers
“Dismayed” bishops urge Tigers to contribute to peace process


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