ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 04

British police crack down on Tigers

From Neville de Silva in London

The anti-terrorist police crackdown on suspected LTTE premises that followed the arrest of A. C. Shanthan, reputedly the Tiger’s headman here, and another on Thursday afternoon, has provided a haul of material now being sifted, official sources said.

Meanwhile, five other Tamils of Sri Lankan origin were arrested on Friday under “special operations” following a search of a flat in a council estate in Colindale, other sources said. Whether these arrests are related to the arrests on Thursday under the Terrorism Act, is not known.

A. C. Shanthan

The anti-terrorism police have claimed that they cannot confirm Friday’s operation as it would have been carried out by another squad, but observers here believe the events are linked. Following the raids on Thursday on the headquarters of the British Tamil Association (BTA) and the Tamil Youth Organisation (TYO) in Colindale, the authorities have searched a flat in a council estate also in Colindale on Friday. While formal charges under the UK Terrorism Act 2000 are to be made this week against Shanthan also known as A.

Chrishantakumar, and Goldan Lambert supposedly the treasurer of the BTA, police sleuths are pouring over material such as computer discs, books and other information collected from the offices of the two organisations and from the homes of the arrested persons, well placed sources said.

Sources believe the scrutiny of discs and documents and sealed bank accounts might yield valuable information about fund-raising and donors and their political connections.Also being investigated is another Tamil of Sri Lankan origin who was apprehended at Heathrow Airport 12 days ago with over £150,000 in cash.

The detection was made before his departure to Singapore where he was due to meet another Sri Lankan flying in from Colombo, information disclosed has revealed. Police are trying to determine whether this attempt to smuggle a large amount of currency out of the country was in anyway linked to LTTE activities or whether it was the proceeds of some criminal activity like credit card scams which have been much in the news recently.

Although the first information was that the anti-terrorist officers had made the arrest early Thursday morning, subsequent information from British sources indicated that the arrests were made around 3.45 pm Thursday when Lambert was picked up at Heathrow Airport on his return from Dubai. As soon as he was picked up, the anti-terrorist police rounded up Shanthan from his home in Mitchum in Surrey, the sources said.

They were both arrested under section 12 (3) of the UK Terrorism Act for supporting a “prohibited organisation.” Shanthan and Lambert are believed to have been key organisers of the July 2006 rally at Hyde Park to commemorate the anti-Tamil riots in July 1983 at which LTTE insignia and its leader’s photographs were displayed in violation of the terrorism law.

It is said that Lambert made the payments for the hiring of the grounds and some other costs while Shanthan was one of the main speakers. Another prominent person at the rally is said to have been a deputy mayoress of the local Southwark borough, Elizabeth Packiadevi Mann.

A member of the Liberal Democrat Party, she was personally referred to by Lib Dem Chairman Simon Hughes during a recent House of Commons debate.

It is believed that the police would want to question her to ascertain any connections she may have with the LTTE and about her participation at the meeting. She is understood to have said recently that she lost the mayorship because of her suspected political links. However some non-committed Tamils who have been shocked by the sudden arrests and the searches wonder whether she would be subject to police questioning because of her political connections.

Asked why it took so long for the police to take action, well placed sources said the Crown Prosecution Service wanted to be satisfied a prima facie case could be made and sufficient evidence was available to go to court. Another reason appears to be a change of heart at the Home Office which had been canvassed by a group led by Labour MP Keith Vaz for the lifting of the ban on the LTTE.

The actions of this group had created the impression that the LTTE and its supporters would be safe from arrest and prosecution, British sources said. The actions of the Keith Vaz led group in which Lib Dem chairman Simon Hughes is a member, included a prospective invitation to LTTE political leader Thamilselvan to address UK parliamentarians.

This is said to have led to the mistaken belief among some, including Sri Lankans in Colombo, that the British government supported such moves.

The British government wanted to dispel such ideas and make clear that the prohibition on the LTTE would stand until the Tiger leadership changed its stance, the sources said.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.