Army thwarts Pillayan’s bid to free bank robbery suspect

A senior army officer yesterday accused Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan of trying to secure the release of one of the main suspects in the Puttur bank robbery.
Security Forces Eastern Commander Boniface Perera told the Sunday Times, “On hearing of what was taking place, I rushed a special motorcycle squad to the area and detained the suspect who was later taken to the police under heavy armed guard.”

The suspect along with four others had allegedly robbed some Rs. 3.5 million in cash and 27 kilos of gold with an estimated value of Rs. 150 million from the People’s Bank in Puttur in Batticaloa town.Police say the suspect identified as Pradeepan was a former frontline LTTE activist who later joined the ranks of the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) led by Mr. Chandrakanthan who is better known as Pillayan.

The other four suspects involved in the robbery are also supporters of the TMVP and they were rounded up on the instructions of Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksha, Maj: General Perera said.
Investigators are now trying to ascertain whether the same gang was responsible for similar crimes committed in the east and elsewhere. (See related story on Page 12)

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