ECONOMYNEXT – Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan and 4 others were acquitted of a murder carried out on Christmas Eve Mass 2005 because of a Court of Appeal decision, his lawyer told EconomyNext.
The Batticaloa High Court discharged the prisoners yesterday after the Attorney General, Dappula de Livera withdrew charges against the accused on Monday, ending the possibility of justice for the family of the victim Joseph Pararajasingham.
The former Member of Parliament was murdered in a dramatic assassination fifteen years ago. Pararajasingham was gunned down in a fusillade of bullets as he and his wife Sugunam were returning to their seats after receiving Communion at Christmas Eve Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral in Batticaloa.
Seven others including Sugunam were injured and Pararajasingham’s killers were seen fleeing towards the Patpodi camp where the terror group led by Chandrakanthan and Vinayagamurthi Muraleetharan alias Karuna Amman were housed by the security forces.
Mangaleshwari Shankar, Chandrakanthan’s lawyer said the accused were held in custody for a crime committed ten years before they were arrested based on a “confessional statement” made by two of the accused.
“No other evidence has been produced against the accused,” Shankar told EconomyNext.
She said that the Court of Appeal on November 14 last year rejected the confessions as evidence after an appeal was filed by Chandrakanthan’s lawyers.
This Shankar said, paved the way for de Livera to withdraw the charges against the ex-terrorist and his co-accused.
At that time Chandrakanthan was granted bail and thereafter contested the Parliamentary elections and won a seat from the Batticaloa district as an ally of the ruling Sri Lanka Nidahas Podujana Party. Before that, the former LTTEer had been the Chief Minister of the Eastern Province.
Pararajasingham, a former government functionary, journalist and social activist was a Northerner who moved to the East and established a political base there.
Two of his in-laws were MPs as well and he was a strong supporter of the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) from which party he was elected.
Pararajasingham played a key role as an intermediary between then-President Ranasinghe Premadasa and the LTTE when the Tigers were under heavy pressure from the Indian Peacekeeping force in the later 1980s.
That was the time when Tiger leaders including Anton Balasingham were brought to Colombo and housed at the Galadari Hotel to hold direct talks with the Premadasa administration.
Pararajasingham was well-known as a journalist and columnist for both Tamil and English newspapers. He was a correspondent for the Independent Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd and his work appeared in the Dinapathi, Chinthamani, Sun and Weekend newspapers under the name P Joseph.
Muraleetharan and Chandrakanthan led the LTTE in the Eastern province during much of the separatist war before they defected and joined the Sri Lankan government side in the 2001 – 2002 period.
They are notable for leading two horrific massacres of unarmed civilians which apart from the murder of more than 140 pilgrims at the Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura are the worst on record in a single strike in our bloody history.
One is the killing of 33 civilians, including 30 novice Buddhist Monks at Aranthalawa in the Ampara district on June 2, 1987.
The other is the killing of several hundred police officers who had been asked to surrender to the LTTE by President Premadasa in 1990. (Colombo, January 14, 2021)
By Arjuna Ranawana