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Sri Lanka frees Tamil Tiger leader after bridal course

2013 Jul 02

Sri Lanka's military has released a woman leader of the Tamil Tiger militant group from four years of detention after she completed training in "bridal dressing", the president's office said on Friday.

The guerrilla fighter-turned-politician of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) underwent a year of "rehabilitation", learning bridal dressing -- how to dress the bride and her entourage for a wedding -- before her release, the president's office said in a statement.

Sivakamy Subramaniam, better known by her nom de guerre Thamilini, took part in attacks against government forces after joining the LTTE in 1991 but gave up combat duty to join and then take a leading role in the group's political wing.

"Thamalini received vocational training at the (state-run rehabilitation) camp and had followed a training course in bridal dressing," the statement from the president's office said, adding that she had "consented to be rehabilitated".

The 41-year-old was arrested by security forces in 2009 when she was spotted at a refugee camp where some 330,000 civilians sheltered during the final stages of Sri Lanka's separatist war.

At the time of her arrest, she had discarded the cyanide capsule all Tiger guerrillas were expected to carry to commit suicide when faced with the threat of capture, according to military reports at the time.

The Tigers were known for their spectacular suicide bomb attacks and controlled a third of Sri Lanka's territory at the height of their power in the early 1990s.

Subramaniam was reunited Wednesday with her family in the northern district of Vavuniya.

Sri Lanka's military conducted a series of vocational training programmes for around 12,000 rebels who surrendered to security forces in the final months of fighting in 2009.

The former militants had a choice of courses including masonry, plumbing, carpentry, psychology and computer programming.

Sri Lanka has denied allegations that up to 40,000 civilians were killed by its troops in the final months of fighting and say that over 12,000 Tigers who surrendered to security forces have been rehabilitated and freed.

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