SLA denies giving protection to fleeing renegade

[TamilNet, Thursday, 15 April 2004, 14:03 GMT]
The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) Thursday denied reports in the Colombo-based media that SLA forces provided escort to the renegade commander Vinayagamoorthy Muraleetharan known as Karuna to a destination in Colombo when he fled from his hideouts in the eastern province following a military operation by the Liberation Tigers against him, sources said.

The SLA issued a press release to this effect Thursday afternoon signed by its military spokesman, Colonel Sumedha Perera.

Colombo media Thursday carried news reports quoting eyewitnesses that Karuna and his 20 cadres had been brought down to Colombo from the eastern province via Dambulla-Colombo road on Monday night in six army vehicles and they were seen having dinner in a hotel in Dambulla between about 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. The reports further said no one was allowed into the main hall of the hotel and the front doors were closed down till Karuna and his cadres left the place. The reports further said eyewitnesses had seen a politician accompanying the Karuna group, sources said.

The Ministry of Defence in a press release Thursday denied the media reports as totally false.

The full text of the press release follows:

"The attention of the Ministry of Defence has been drawn to reports appearing in the local media that the Sri Lanka Army has provided escort to Vinayagamoorthy Muraleetharan, better known as Karuna to a destination in Colombo after the clash he has had with the LTTE Vanni faction.

"The Ministry of Defence categorically denies the truth of this report. Karuna has not requested the Sri Lanka Army for refuge, nor have the security forces undertaken any such movement as speculated in the media.

"The Ministry of Defence wishes to state that none of the security forces are aware of the present whereabouts of Karuna and his senior cadres."

 

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