Paper seller had no grenade say Jaffna Police

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 23 December 2003, 17:06 GMT]
The paper seller who was shot at by a Sri Lankan army soldier in Jaffna town on 9 December pointed out his assailant at an identification parade in the Jaffna district court Tuesday. The Officer in Charge (OIC) of Sri Lanka Police station in northern town states in his First Information Report (FIR) submitted to the court that he found neither evidence of a hand grenade nor any trace of an explosion at the scene of the shooting. The SLA alleged that the paper seller had tried to lob a grenade at the soldier.

A private bus worker, Mr. Kandaiah Shanmugam, who was at the scene of the shooting, also identified the soldier, Mr. Dias Nagoda Vithana, a private from the 4th Battalion of the SLA’s 51-2 Brigade garrisoned in the midst of Jaffna town.

Mr. Thirunavukkarasu Thuraichelvam, who was at Jaffna’s main bus station when the soldier opened fire on the paper seller, was seriously wounded. He is still in hospital.

Jaffna District judge, Mr. R. T Viknarajah, remanded the soldier until 5 January 2004.

Twenty one SLA soldiers were paraded before the two witnesses for identification. The identification parade was conducted by the Police under the direction of acting judge, Mr. M. Thirunavukkarasu. Two soldiers who were associated with the first accused in the shooting were in the parade but were not identified by the two witnesses.

The judge allowed them personal surety bail of 50000 rupees each. He specifically instructed the Police that the commander of their unit, the 4th battalion of the SLA’s 51-2 Brigade, should take charge of the troopers. A legal advisor to the SLA, Mr. K. A Piyashantha Kuruppu, appeared for the accused soldiers.

In the FIR submitted to the court the OIC of the Jaffna Police station states Mr. Kandaiah Shanmugam made a complaint on 9 November evening that his friend, Mr. Thuraichelvam had been shot and seriously wounded at the bus station. The OIC, according to the FIR, had then gone to the spot and was told by the three soldiers that a paper seller, an LTTE suspect, had lobbed a grenade at them when they attempted to check him.

In his statement to the Police, the paper seller, Mr. Selvarasa Vijayakumar, 16, of Kandarmadam near Jaffna town, had said that he was selling the Eelanatham paper on the day of the incident at the Jaffna main bus station when three soldiers had questioned him whether the paper was put by the Liberation Tigers.

The boy had told them that he works as a paper seller for a pay and that he had nothing to do with the LTTE. The soldiers had taken him aside saying they wanted to check him, the boy had said in his statement to the Police. “The tall fair solider then opened fire on me. I was injured but managed to break free and run,” the boy had stated, according to the FIR.

 

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