Irrigation and Water Resources Management Minister and Leader of the House Nimal Siripala de Silva, yesterday stated that there were no political prisoners in custody as alleged by the TNA, but those who had been suspected to have been involved in terrorist activities committed by the LTTE.
He said that out of the 668 detainees who were presently in remand custody on court orders as at May 21, 2012, 359 have been indicted for being involved in criminal activities committed by the LTTE and 309 were to be served with indictments for the same reason after investigations were over.
Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva further stated that TNA MP Sampanthan had attempted to mislead Parliament as well as the international community by calling them ‘political prisoners.’
The minister was making these observations in response to a special statement made by TNA MP R Sampanthan on Tuesday under standing order 23/2.
Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva further stated that some of the disabled suspects among them could not be released as requested by Sampanthan, since they had been rendered disabled due to terrorist activities committed by them on the instructions of the LTTE.
He also said that a very few suspects who had been rehabilitated and the FOM certificates issued, had to be taken again into custody as they had been involved in crimes of a graver nature and on the statements made by some other suspects.
Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva further stated that the responsibility of convicting or acquitting the 359 persons who were served with the indictments was in the hands of the judiciary, according to the tradition of this country.
The minister further stated that the number of detainees who were directed by Court for rehabilitation at the Rehabilitation Centre on their request was 672.
The minister further stated that in addition, another 241 persons had been arrested since the beginning of 2011 under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
The minister further stated that a considerable time period was needed to investigate into these incidents, as they were essential for national security.
He added that the government was in the process of indicting them or releasing them as soon as investigations were over.
Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva stated that Minister Gajadheera and his staff had formulated a programme to expedite the process involving those remandees.
He added that the programmes contained the establishment of high courts within a month in Colombo, Vavunia and Mannar, to hear those cases against suspected LTTE activists and another was the appointment of a special staff at the Attorney General’s Department to file those indictments within a month. He said that another measure was to get court decisions to rehabilitate those suspects who were eligible and willing to do so.
Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva further stated that also said that it is said that only 229 remandees in three remand custodies out of the 10 in which those 668 suspects were remanded had been on a hunger strike. They had only been deprived of taking their meals from the remand custody. When the Ministry Advisor and Prisons Commissioner met them, they had said their complain was not against the custody, but they needed to expedite the cases against them. None of their health conditions had been severe.
The minister further stated that the government had conducted the rehabilitation of the LTTE surendees in a humane manner. So far, 11,896 rehabilitated ex-LTTE combatants have been united with society. He said that to strengthen their living standards, the government had granted them loans to commence self-employments.
At first there had been only 29 rehabilitation centres, but presently only four were remaining.
Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva further stated that the Justice Ministry, Attorney General’s Department, Police Department, Terrorist Investigations Division and Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms Ministry had already initiated discussions to take legal action against those suspected of ex-LTTE cadres involved in grave terrorist activities during the operations to release them or rehabilitate them.
He added that at the initial discussion on April 2, had been decided to hold a second discussion on May 22. Its decision would be implemented within another month, he said.
The minister said that another group of rehabilitated ex-LTTE combatants would be united with their families on June 2. The other 597 would be united with their families when the rehabilitation programme was over.
Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva further stated that the allegations made by the TNA that an assault on student Paramalingam Darnashanthan, was made by the forces, was baseless and the government expressed its displeasure to MP Sampanthan for making such a statement. He said that when investigations were over, Parliament will be made aware in that respect.
The minister stated that the President had asserted that terrorism would not be allowed to torture the people in the country, specially those in the North and East. He said the President had pointed out the need of the presence of forces in the North and East for this purpose.
Minister Siripala de Silva further stated that it had been in a humane manner that the the forces had treated the people in the North and East during the last days of the humanitarian operation and later on.
The minister further stated that Minister Douglas Devananda, Deputy Chairman of Committees Murugesu Chandrakumar and Deputy Minister Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan had also continuously requested for investigations on those be expedited, so that the detainees could be release or legal action taken against them.