Sri Lanka to ‘positively consider’ extraditing Prabhakaran to India

January 10th, 2009 - 4:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Jan 10 (IANS) Sri Lanka will “positively consider” extraditing Tamil Tigers chief Velupillai Prabhakaran to India if he is captured, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said in remarks published Saturday.The Daily Mirror quoted Bogollagama as saying that although there was no extradition treaty between India and Sri Lanka, Colombo would react positively if New Delhi sought the extradition of the elusive chief of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Prabhakaran, founder leader of the LTTE, is wanted in India for the 1991 assassination of former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. Also wanted is the LTTE’s intelligence chief, Pottu Amman.

“If the Indian government makes a request to hand over the LTTE leader to India in the event he is arrested alive by the security forces, Sri Lanka would consider it positively as he is a murder suspect in India,” the minister said.

The minister, however, pointed out that although “some individuals in India” had asked Sri Lanka to hand over Prabhakaran, the Indian government was yet to make such a request.

A day after Sri Lankan troops captured the LTTE’s political hub Kilinochchi, India’s ruling Congress party spokesman M. Veerappa Moily Jan 3 demanded that Colombo extradite the LTTE chief if he is caught.

India’s Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon clarified two days later that New Delhi has “consistently demanded the extradition of Prabhakaran”.

Prabhakaran, who founded the LTTE in 1976, is known to have deep and seemingly secure underground caves and bunkers in the dense forests of Mullaitivu, from where he oversaw the war against Indian troops in Sri Lanka’s northeast in 1987-90.

Sri Lankan troops are now inching their way into Mullaitivu, the last district in the island’s north where the LTTE holds territory.

Political sources here said that the extradition could well take place under “the SAARC convention on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters” and the Commonwealth treaties on terrorism and criminal matters.

“The issue of handing over Prabhakaran to India does not depend on whether there is a treaty or not but on whether he would be captured alive or not,” said an analyst who preferred anonymity.

Sri Lankan troops Friday registered another success when they recaptured the 100-acre Elephant Pass garrison, taking total control of the entire stretch of a highway linking Jaffna peninsula with the rest of the country after nine long years.

This means the rebels have virtually lost dominance in the north and would be confined to an area between the east of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu district.

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