ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday October 7, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 19

Tiger lawyers in move to prove LTTE a liberation force

By Ayesha R. Rafiq

Defence lawyers in the court case against three LTTE activists in Australia, this week cross-examined witnesses in a bid to prove that the LTTE was in fact a liberation movement committed to protecting the rights of Tamils, as opposed to a terrorist organisation.

Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka and other high ranking members of the defence and legal establishments were cross-examined via satellite on allegations that the Army was responsible for atrocities against Tamils, including massacring civilians and bombing schools.

According to the Australian prosecutor the LTTE activists Aruran Vinayagamoorthy, Sivarajah Yathavan and Arumugam Rajeewan were running a fund raising network using an LTTE front organisation called the Tamil Co-ordinating Committee (TCC). The Director of Public Prosecutions of the State of Victoria has charged the accused for being members of a terrorist organization (LTTE), for providing material support to a terrorist organisation and for funding a terrorist organisation.

The Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT) of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) commenced covert investigations two years ago into LTTE fund raising activities, as part of its anti-terrorism initiative, The Sunday Times learns. During investigations, the accused and another suspect named Thillaindarajah Jeyakumar were kept under close surveillance by the AFP, with their movements and transactions being closely monitored. Jeyakumar is widely known to be the leading LTTE activist in Australia.

One of the charges against the three accused was that of providing material support to the LTTE on the basis of the recovery by Sri Lankan authorities of hydraulic gear and radiometric electronic devices which the witnesses were alleged to have brought to Sri Lanka, The Sunday Times learns. The prosecution pointed out that the unique feature of this equipment was that used in conjunction they act as remotely activated claymore mines.

The defence in its attempt to prove that the LTTE was a liberation movement argued that such equipment is also used by the Sri Lanka Army and also that the mines were brought to be used against the Army in case of oppressive action by the Army against the Tamil people.

The Army Commander countered these charges saying the Army does not in fact use claymore mines, and by highlighting LTTE attacks since the signing of the CFA pointed out that all operations carried out by the Army following the signing of the CFA were in the nature of exercising the right to self defence and pre-emptive self defence.

The Sri Lankan witnesses comprising the Army Commander, Brigadier Chrishantha De Silva, Colonel Rasika Karunatileke and Deputy Solicitor General Yasantha Kodagoda described in detail the facts on which it was being contended that the LTTE was a terrorist organisation as opposed to a liberation movement, including the historical origins and organisational structure of the LTTE, and attacks carried out by the LTTE with specific references to terrorist attacks since the signing of the CFA.

The Army Commander was cross-examined with the aid of certain statements attributed by defence counsel to the former head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission Ulf Henricsson, The Sunday Times learns. In addition to the Sri Lankan witnesses, a court-appointed female officer along with Australian Police Officers were present at the secret location the witnesses were testifying from. Proceedings were adjourned on Friday evening until December 3, when more Sri Lankan witnesses including the Navy Commander will testify.

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