Two LTTEers get 185 years’ RI

Two seniors members of the LTTE who were charged with having shot down an Antonov 32 passenger aircraft carrying 37 persons, including Army, Air Force and Police personnel were sentenced to 185 years’ rigorous imprisonment by North Central Province High Court Judge Mahesh Weeraman, at the Anuradhapura High Court yesterday.

The aircraft was flying from the Palaly Air Force base to the Ratmalana Air Force base.

The two members of the LTTE had hidden in the Wilpattu National Park, when they shot a Russian-manufactured Strela anti-aircraft missile at the aircraft, destroying it completely.

The sentence was handed down to the senior members of the LTTE missile squad – Irasuthurai Jegan alias ‘Pulawan’, a resident of Markadi Lane, Jaffna and Nallam Sivalingam alias ‘Sinnathilakan’, a resident of Piriddi South, Neerveli, Jaffna. The Attorney General having indicted them on 37 counts, had them plead guilty on all charges in open court, and they were given five-year prison sentences for each charge, totalling 185 years’ rigorous imprisonment. The High Court Judge also ordered that all sentences be served at once. The incident took place on March 30, 2000, and the aircraft which caught fire in midair, crashed in the Thalawa, Weerawewa area.

Its Russian pilot and his staff, along with Army Lieutenants Rohana Ruwan Amarasekara, Udith Sadun Jayathilake, Dimuthu Asiri and Ananda Shaminda Silva were killed along with 32 other members of the Air Force and Police.

In 2010, the two accused were arrested by the Terrorism Investigations Division (TID), and at the time, they had in their possession a Russian-manufactured Strela missile launching pad and two Strela missiles. Large amounts of debris from the aircraft that was destroyed were also produced before the court as production items in the case.

The two accused have spent eight years in prison continuously, and thus the judge sentenced them having considered the time they have already spent in prison.

Attorney-at-Law Sudharshana de Silva appeared on behalf of the prosecution, along with officers of the TID, while government-appointed attorney Vinodhi Siriwardena appeared on behalf of the defence.

 



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