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 For fear of incurring Premadasa's wrath Not even inter-departmental inquiry into massacre of 600 policemen: Tassy tells LLRC

For fear of incurring Premadasa's wrath Not even inter-departmental inquiry into massacre of 600 policemen: Tassy tells LLRC

2011 Jan 25

Fearing the wrath of then President Ranasinghe Premadasa, the police never initiated at least an inter-departmental inquiry into the circumstances under which the LTTE had executed over 600 police officers and men at the onset of the Eelam War II in June 1990, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission was told on Monday (24).

The police top brass had been too scared to probe the massacre of those who had surrendered at the behest of President Premadasa, retired SSP Tassy Seneviratne said. The veteran cop was responding to a query by LLRC member former Foreign Secretary H. M. G. S. Palihakkara during Monday’s sessions.

Seneviratne retired in 1995, the year the Eelam War III erupted with the sinking of two Fast Gunboats anchored at Trincomalee.

Identifying the then Foreign Minister A. C. S. Hameed as a key player in President Premadasa’s negotiating team, Seneviratne asserted that IGP Ernest Perera had had no alternative but to comply with the presidential directive issued to police deployed in some parts of the Eastern Province.

Seneviratne said that the LTTE’s success had been built on shortcomings and strategic miscalculations on the part of successive governments. Had there been adequate support, the police could have thwarted the LTTE attempt to overrun police stations in the East in 1990, he said.

The LTTE assassinated Premadasa on May Day in 1993. Even after Premadasa’s assassination, successive governments did not initiate an inquiry.

Commenting on the then LTTE leader in the Batticaloa area Vinayagamurthy Muralitharan, now a Deputy Minister in the ruling UPFA coalition, Seneviratne emphasised the government, particularly President Mahinda Rajapaksa, should be wary of having an opportunist like Muralitharan aka Karuna. Recalling the circumstances which led Karuna to switch allegiance after being summoned to Kilinochchi in March 2004 by LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, Seneviratne urged President Rajapaksa to be cautious. The likes of Karuna could be dangerous, he stressed.

Seneviratne submitted a confidential letter to former Attorney General C. R. de Silva, Chairman, LLRC, claiming that the writer of that letter could shed light on ‘LTTE operations.’

The veteran cop urged the LLRC to recommend to the government to initiate an inquiry into war crimes committed by the LTTE. The massacre of policemen could be categorised as a grave war crime, he said.

Responding to LLRC Commissioner Dr. Rohan Perera, Seneviratne acknowledged that the families of those 600 policemen hadn’t been looked after by the department. The then IGP had been in a dilemma for want provision to do so, he said.

Pressed by Palihakkara, Seneviratne recalled how the police top brass had refused to carry one of his articles, which dealt with the massacre of policemen, in an annual publication of the police for fear of President Premadasa.

LLRC Chairman urged Seneviratne to provide whatever information he had with regard to the families of those policemen killed in the single largest massacre in this country.

The Commissioners indicated their keenness to ascertain whether the families of massacre victims had been given step-motherly treatment, compared to officers and men killed in other confrontations with terrorists.   

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