3RD LEAD (Adds details)

Chandran Ratnam arrested for "possession" of explosives

[TamilNet, Sunday, 30 May 2010, 11:04 GMT]
A well known film producer and director of several films Chandran Ratnam was taken into custody by the Sri Lanka police Sunday on an allegation that he had been in possession of explosive materials in his former residence in Nugegoda, according to police media spokesman Preshantha Jayakody. In a recent video interview Chandran, who comes from a mixed parentage, explains that he is not averse to risk taking, and prides in the reconciliation theme he has advanced in his movies.

Cartoon (Courtesy: Latuff, 2009)
Cartoon (Courtesy: Latuff, 2009)
Ratnam is now being interrogated by the officials of the Terrorist Investigations Unit (TIU) and is expected to be produced in court on Monday, police said.

However, relatives of Chandran Ratnam who confirmed his arrest alleged that explosives were ’planted’ in one of his former residences which he had vacated a year ago.

Chandran Ratnam produced the film “Road to Elephant Pass” that focused on the war in Sri Lanka. In a recent video interview with Daily Mirror (see below), Chandran explains the background to this movie that involves a Sri Lanka Army (SLA) Commander and an LTTE cadre, and expresses his propensity to take risks, pointing out that narrow minded viewer may find the 'reconciliation" theme exemplified in the movie offending.

He also worked with Hollywood producer Steven Spielberg in the movie “Indiana Jones Temple of Doom” according to Colombo film sources.

Chandran Ratnam is also the President of the Asian Film Location Services, a private business established in 1979, when MGM came to Sri Lanka to shoot John and Bo Derek's "Tarzan the Ape Man".

Chandran's company sells "Experience, which will bring your Feature Film, Commercial or Documentary on time and on budget," according to the company's website. The website adds that they had "good fortune and the distinction of having serviced productions of all sizes by distinguished and talented filmmakers from all parts of the world," including Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, David Lean, Carol Reed, John Boorman, Regis Wargnier, Deepa Mehta and John Milius.

Chandran also says in the interview with Daily Mirror, his wife runs a school for pilots, and he is keen on turning out more talented aerospace engineers.

Chandran Ratnam in conversation
Courtesy: Daily Mirror

"At a point in the country's history where it should be poised to emerge from that chaos and move toward a period of reconciliation and rebuilding, Sri Lanka's future seems clouded, not least because of the government's attitude toward the media, or at least the part of the media that dares to criticize it," Bob Dietz, Asia program coordinator, Committee to Protect Journalists, said in a report published in Huffington Post.

"In the years running up to that victory, Sri Lankan journalists who had dared to criticize the government found themselves under serious attack -- ten have been killed for their work in the last decade, and many others have been harassed, arbitrarily jailed, temporarily "disappeared," or otherwise seriously harassed. The atmosphere has become so poisonous for journalists that CPJ counts more than 25 in exile. Some of them have asked for, and received, political asylum," Dietz wrote in his column.

Tissainayagam, a senior Tamil journalist, was arrested on March 7, 2008 by the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) of the Sri Lanka Police and had been indicted with several charges with attempting to cause racial or communal disharmony by publishing articles published in the North Eastern Monthly magazine in 2006 and 2007. He was sentenced to twenty years R.I. by the Colombo High Court on being found guilty for arousing communal feeling by his articles.

The publically announced "Presidential Pardon" has been delayed until withdrawal of Tissainayagam's apeal against his conviction, a Government media spokesperson said, a reason noted as "frivolous" by legal circles in Colombo.


External Links:
CPJ: Sri Lanka: A year later, still failing to fight media attacks
HP: Sri Lanka and Its Journalists -- A Country Going Wrong
LK: Asian Film Location Services


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