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20th December 1998

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Canadian money buys LTTE arms

Canada's intelligence agency has for the first time drawn a link between fund raising by one of the country's top Tamil organisations and the purchase of weapons by a Sri Lankan terrorist group.

In evidence presented in Federal Court, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) says money raised in Canada is helping buy arms and ammunition for a separatist campaign waged by the LTTE. The allegation was made in a report submitted to the Court some months ago but not made public until now.

It appears in Court files concerning the deportation of Manickavasagam Suresh, who CSIS says, was sent to Canada by the Tigers to raise funds.

It was only on December 6, The Sunday Times exclusively reported that the CSIS listed the LTTE among international terrorist groups raising funds in Canada for terrorism. The report quoted testimony by the CSIS chief, Ward Elcock, to the Special Committee of the Senate on Security and Intelligence. Arguing against Mr. Suresh's release from a Toronto jail, CSIS said if he was freed it would be seen as "victory against the Canadian government" and would be exploited by Tamil groups to raise funds.

Barbara Jackman, Mr. Suresh's lawyer said there was no evidence to support the claim. "As far as I know that's speculation on their part," she said, adding there would be nothing illegal about raising funds for the LTTE.

Intelligence officials claim that Mr. Suresh (43) was sent to Canada by the Tigers to raise money for their cause. He arrived in Canada in 1990 and made a refugee claim, which was accepted the following year. But in 1995, the Immigration Department cited information from the CSIS to declare him a security threat because of his ties with the Tigers.

He was arrested at the Toronto office of the World Tamil Movement where he was co-ordinator. During one of Mr. Suresh's court hearings, Tamil leaders said the World Tamil Movement supports the Tigers but that the money raised in Canada was used for peaceful purposes, such as financing road building and purchase of medicine.

The Court ruled in August, 1997, that Mr. Suresh was a leader of the Tigers and the head of the Canadian branch of the World Tamil Movement, "which it can reasonably be concluded is part of the LTTE organisation or is, at the very least, an organisation that strongly supports the activities of the LTTE."

Mr. Suresh was ordered to be deported back to Sri Lanka, but his departure is on hold while he appeals the decision. He was released from jail in March until his appeals can be heard. The Federal Government plans to challenge the freeze on his deportation in court next month. Mr. Elcock, Director of CSIS, told the Senate Intelligence Committee in June that terrorist groups, including Tigers, were active in Canada and were involved in supporting conflicts in other lands.

CSIS alleges in its court evidence that even while he was imprisoned at the Don Jail, Mr. Suresh stayed in touch with the Tigers and continued to run the World Tamil Movement from his cell.

Two options for Thonda

By Shelani de Silva

The Government will allocate money for Minister S. Thondaman's work next year either through a supplementary estimate or the contingency fund, a spokesman said.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle told The Sunday Times yesterday that if a supplementary estimate could not be moved by January, the money could be taken from a contingency fund and replaced later. He said there was no urgency and the government would take a decision within the next few weeks.

Minister Fernandopulle again accused the UNP of causing a communal stir and acting against the estate Tamil people when it introduced a surprise amendment in parliament two weeks ago to defeat the votes of Mr. Thondaman's Livestock Development and Estate Infrastructure Ministry.

'The Government has a responsibility by the estate Tamil people. We will not let them suffer because of some manipulation in parliament," he said.

Parliament's former secretary general Sam Wijesinha told The Sunday Times that his view was that the contingency fund was generally meant for use in times of floods or natural disasters. But the government could take any decision. Mr. Thondaman, most Tamil parties and estate unions have accused the UNP of acting on communal lines to block the votes, but the party has denied any such motives.

Double pay for state bank bosses

By Chamintha Thilakarathna.

Top executives of State banks are expected to receive massive salary increases of more than 100 percent, but other staff are protesting that they are getting only crumbs.

A committee which was appointed to consider structural adjustments in salaries has proposed that salaries of general managers, deputy general managers, assistant general managers and branch managers be increased by over 100% with retrospective effect from January 1, 97 after presidential approval is given.

According to the report consolidated monthly salaries of general managers will be increased to Rs. 79,000, deputy general managers to Rs. 64,000, assistant general managers to Rs. 50,000.

Bank union officials said the structural adjustment report proposals offered salary increases from 8 to 131%. They said the sanitary staff who are in the lowest salary scale would get only an 8% increase while general managers would get as much as 131% .

The increase came about as the result of a collective agreement signed by bank unions, officials of state banks and the Treasury.

The state bank executives have been asking that salaries be substantially increased to prevent a massive exodus to private banks where salaries are much higher. But unions now say the scales proposed are not fair by lower grade employees.

Athas case referred to High Court

Two Air Force officers accused of raiding the house of The Sunday Times' Consultant Editor and Defence Correspondent Iqbal Athas have been ordered to appear before the High Court of Colombo.

The CID which is probing the incident told the Gangodawila Magistrate that the Attorney General would file indictment against the two suspects in the Colombo High Court.

In this case, Flt. Lt. H.M. Rukman Herath and Sq. Ldr. D.S. P. Kannangara have been charged with illegally entering the residence of Mr. Athas and threatening him and other members of his family on February 12.

The two suspects were identified at a subsequent identification parade.

The CID informed magistrate N.V. Karunathilake when the case was taken up on Monday that they have sent details of the case to the Attorney-General for advice.

On an application made by Defence Counsel, the Magistrate ordered the two Air Force officers to appear before the CID on the last Saturday of each month.

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