Local cease-fire monitor obtains bail for LTTE abductors of schoolgirls

by Shamindra Ferdinando
A leading lawyer and a local cease-fire monitor recently filed a motion in the Trincomalee Magistrates’ court requesting the release of two female Tigers, accused of abducting two 14-year-old girls at Sambaltivu, informed sources said. One of the abductors is only 16 years of age and the other 20.

The attorney-at-law was identified as a member of the Norwegian-led Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM). The mission comprises monitors from Scandinavian countries as well as nominees of the government and the LTTE. The lawyer filed the motion subsequent to reaching an understanding with the police that law enforcement authorities would not object for bail, the sources said.

As agreed, this was done with Rs. 10,000 surety bail for each suspect. The suspects were identified as residents of Alaswatte at Sambaltivu and Bharathipuram, Kantale. They were the first Tigers to be arrested on a charge of abduction since the truce agreement came into effect an year ago. A senior policeman claimed that it was a bailable offence although police headquarters has categorised abductions as grave crime.

Troops deployed at a checkpoint at Sambaltivu on February 14 rescued the two 14-year-old girls when they were being ‘led’ by the suspects to an LTTE training camp. They were grade 10 students of the Sambaltivu Tamil M.V. They had been on their way home after school.

The women tigers were in civilian dress while the girls were in school uniforms. The suspects were produced before the magistrate and were remanded for 14 days-till February 27.

Although police earlier vehemently objected to bail, pointing out that it was a clear case of abduction, they subsequently changed their position in a bid to persuade the Tigers to call off a hartal in Trincomalee. The Tigers ordered an indefinite protest campaign to secure their release. They were released on February 17 and were directed to appear in court on February 27.

Police said eight Tigers released on bail on two previous occasions refuse to appear in court. Of them, two were arrested in the Kantale police area and the rest while transporting a consignment of arms and ammunition including claymore mines in a Sea Tiger craft off Trincomalee.