Sri Lanka's highest-ranking military officer Ravindra Wijegunaratne detained in abduction case of 11 youth

Colombo: Sri Lanka's highest-ranking military officer Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne on Wednesday surrendered before a local court which remanded him in custody for a week in a case of abduction of 11 youths during the last phase of the bloody civil war with the LTTE in 2009. Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Wijegunaratne appeared before the Fort magistrate court in full military uniform and his army commando security.

Chief of Defense Staff Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne is taken away by police officers from a court in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday. AP

Chief of Defense Staff Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne is taken away by police officers from a court in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday. AP

The court was informed that Wijegunaratne shielded a naval intelligence officer accused of 11 murders in the final stages of the civil war with the Tamil rebels that ended in 2009. The court remanded him in custody until 5 December. Admiral Wijeguneratne denies the allegations. Navy personnel had been arrested for abductions and disappearance of 11 youth in 2009 apparently for ransom.

A special police team informed the court that Wijegunaratne had facilitated the main suspect Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi, a lieutenant commander of the navy, to flee  the country to avoid legal proceedings. Wijegunaratne had concealed information to the court over Hettiarachchi's whereabouts, the police team said. The court wanted him to appear before it, but Wijegunaratne managed to avoid doing so.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which led the separatist war for a separate Tamil homeland for three decades in the island nation, was finally crushed by the Lankan military in 2009 with the death of its leader V Prabhakaran. The UN Human Rights Council has called for an international probe into the alleged war crimes during the military conflict with the LTTE. According to the government figures, around 20,000 people are missing due to various conflicts including the 30-year-long separatist war with Lankan Tamils in the north and east which claimed at least 100,000 lives.

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Updated Date: Nov 28, 2018 22:59:32 IST

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