Rape witness said burned alive

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 21 April 1998, 23:59 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers in Vadamaradchi East issued the following information to TamilNet's Vadamaratchi correspondent, which contradicted that which had earlier been given to TamilNet's hospital sources by the Sri Lankan authorities.(TamilNet's correspondent says that the version which was originally given out by official sources was apparently aimed at creating confusion to cover up the truth.)

"On April 14, the Tamil new year's day, Selvaraasa Vasantha, a married mother of one, resident of Alvaar Lane in Pt. Pedro was raped by a SLA soldier inside the premises of the Kaarthika restaurant on Main Street, Pt.Pedro at around 3.30 p.m. in the afternoon.

The rape was witnessed by the female owner of the restaurant, V. Vijayakumari who protested about the matter to the PLOTE.

Following the complaint, the PLOTE had had an altercation with the SLA soldier who had been on sentry duty near the restaurant at the time of the incident.

The PLOTE then lodged a formal complaint over the rape with the Sri Lankan Police at Pt.Pedro.

The SLA which had come to know about the complaint the following day, April 15, had threatened Vijayakumari and warned her to withdraw her complaint immediately.

However she had defied the soldiers' threats.

The Sri Lankan Police summoned Vijayakumari to appear at an inquiry on the rape, to be held at 11 a.m. on April 16.

At around 10.30 a.m. on April 16, two SLA soldiers in civilian clothing had gone to the Kaarthika restaurant and after ordering tea, had forcibly covered Vijayakumari's head with a pot.

The soldiers had then poured petrol on her and had set her alight.

When neighbours attempted to douse the fire, the soldiers had forcibly prevented them from going near the burning woman. It was only forty five minutes later that the neighbours were able to take Vijayakumari to the hospital. She died later."

Sri Lankan authorities had claimed that Vijayakumari had committed suicide - by setting herself on fire - after discovering that a SLA soldier with whom she had been having a relationship was married.

According to TamilNet's Vadamaratchi correspondent, the rape victim, Vasantha, is said to be suffering from mental problems.


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