Sri Lanka to free 20 LTTE suspects

Colombo, Nov 26: Sri Lanka today said it will soon release from jails 20 remaining LTTE suspects detained on terrorism charges, as part of its reconciliation efforts with the minority Tamil community.

Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said that the suspects are part of the 59 people who were identified as those not carrying serious charges against them and there is no threat to national security by their release.

Sri Lanka

Earlier, 39 suspects, detained on terrorism charges, were released on strong bail conditions, Rajapakshe told reporters.

The 20 suspects who are due to be released have accepted guilt, the Minister added. The Sri Lankan government takes full responsibility to ensure national security, Rajapakshe said, responding to criticism from the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

He said there are 204 prisoners held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). Some 124 of them are having their cases in the process while 24 of them are yet to be indicted. A total of 56 have been found guilty by the High Court.

Those held under the PTA staged a hunger strike in mid October. They ended the strike following an undertaking by President Maithripala Sirisena to expedite their cases by early this month. They wanted fast track hearing of their cases they had been held over a long time.

Tamil rights groups dubbed them political prisoners and demanded their early release. The Sirisena government faces criticism from Sinhala majority nationalist groups for releasing them in order to appease the Tamils.


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