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Extra-judicial execution of Trincomalee students, Sixth anniversary

[TamilNet, Monday, 02 January 2012, 00:05 GMT]
Two Tamil organizations in the U.S. jointly issued a commemorative stamp to mark the 6th anniversary of the extra-judicial execution by Sri Lanka security forces of five Trincomalee high school students on the 2nd January 2006, when the highly accomplished students were spending an afternoon at a seafront in Trincomalee. The stamp, the issuing organizations said, is a mark of respect to the families that are fighting for justice, and to celebrate the indomitable spirit of Dr Manoharan, the father of one of the students, Ragihar, who had made the fight to bring the killers of his son to justice his life's mission. Meanwhile, Amnesty International conducted a "Write-for-Rights" campaign seeking justice for Dr Manoharan's family during the first week of December 2011.

PDF IconPost-Trinco-massacre photo
The report submitted to Dublin tribunal pieced together a description of the crime as follows:
    A pre-staged effort to terrorize the Tamil population of the city by attacking innocents in a very public venue is a likely explanation of the incident. Close coordination between separate branches of the security forces – the army, navy, STF and police – in the incident lead to the supposition that the effort was directed from a high level in the Defense Ministry (the police report to the Minister of Defense).

    Trinco executions crime scene
    Trinco executions crime scene
    Culpability chart
    Culpability chart
    The incident started with a grenade being thrown out of a three-wheeler near a common gathering place for students, wounding several of them. Reports have said that the vehicle then proceeded into Fort Frederick, the Army HQ. A short time later, five students were killed by gunfire from men who arrived in a jeep, while the father of Ragihar Manoharan was held back from the area at checkpoints of the security forces within earshot of the firing. The five dead and two wounded students were later transported to a hospital.

    Security forces attempted to build the case that the students were LTTE members, and told the father of Ragihar Manoharan that his son’s body would not be released unless he signed a statement saying that his son was an LTTE combatant. Dr. Manoharan refused. Dr. Manoharan later received many threats, including ones claiming Trincomalee for the Sinhalese, and bribes, including the offer of a house in the capital. Large numbers of civilians and military forces were in the area while the incident occurred, but collusion and intimidation kept all but one or two from providing much information to the local inquiring magistrate and to the 2008 Commission of Inquiry.
Dr Manoharan says in his affidavit that he "personally believe[s] that these murders were carried out by the STF [Special Task Force] under the supervision of Superintendent of Police [SP] Kapila Jayasekara."

The STF team was sent to Trincomalee with the approval of Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse just before Christmas 2005, and Sinhala extremist Kotagadeniya was acting as an advisor to the Defence Ministry in Police matters. "Judging by events there is hardly any doubt that the attack on the students in a public place was conceived as teaching the Tamils a lesson...If not the details, the general form of the atrocity was planned at the highest level," the Rights organization UTHR concluded in its investigations. (UTHR, 1/2/10, pg. 14)

Ragihar Manoharan’s father, who heard the shots, has received death threats for giving evidence at an inquest into his son’s killing, Amnesty said in its campaign document.

US Stamp 2012
US Stamp 2012
Thirteen security forces personnel were detained in connection with the killings, but were later released. A commission of inquiry was established to investigate the incident along with 11 other deaths. However, the commission report, delivered directly to the President, has never been published. No thorough investigation has ever been conducted and no one has been brought to justice for Ragihar’s murder, according to Amnesty's report.

The names and the dates of birth of the five students killed at the big harbor town under the control of and heavily garrisoned by the Sri Lanka security forces are: (i) Manoharan Ragihar, DoB 22.09.1985, (ii) Yogarajah Hemachchandra, DoB 04.03.1985, (iii) Logitharajah Rohan, DoB 07.04.1985, (iv) Thangathurai Sivanantha, DoB 06.04.1985, and (v) Shanmugarajah Gajendran, DoB 16.09.1985.

Trinco-5 victim Ragihar's father
talks to Amnesty
From April 2011 archives
Dr. Manoharan, speaking to TamilNet from his UK residence, said that he is pleased with the progress of the law suit currently in progress at the District Court in the District of Columbia where Sri Lanka's President has "waived" his opposition to service of process by filing a memorandum requesting the judge to seek the views of the State Department.

"The case embodies my fight to seek justice for my son, and we have reached an important milestone in this effort. Our attorney has navigated the legal obstacles and have forced Mahinda Rajapakse, a sitting head of state, to court for complicity in the extra-judicial killings.

"Legal actions are expensive, and I appeal to the diaspora to contribute to the legal fund set up by Tamils Against Genocide (TAG) to defray the legal costs. Legal hurdles still remain, but crimes charged in this case are international crimes and immunity defenses are unlikely to succeed," Dr Manoharan told TamilNet.

Dr Manoharan's affidavit and evidence gathered by the independent rights group, UTHR, provide a preponderance of evidence on the alleged perpetrators and the chain of command responsible for the crime, legal sources in Washington said. Report submitted the Dublin Tribunal on Sri Lanka war crimes contains collected information on the killings.

The case (DR-11/1-2006) in the Trincomalee court, meanwhile, is being kept alive by Colombo and the subservient judges for procedural purposes only, legal sources in Trincomalee said. The Magistrates have been postponing hearings routinely for the past five year, first asking the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) to produce reports of investigations, and then accepting without scrutiny CID's response that investigation is still in progress, Dr Manoharan said.

Related Articles:
17.12.11   Rajapakse accepts Court summons, asks US to confer immunity
14.04.11   SLA killed my son - Dr. Manoharan
28.01.11   Rajapaksa sued in US Courts over war-crimes, plaintiffs seek..
02.01.11   Fifth Anniversary of Trincomalee Students execution
17.10.10   Amnesty to begin campaign on SLA execution of Trincomalee st..
19.01.10   Trinco executions added to Sri Lanka's war crimes record in ..
02.01.10   Fourth Anniversary of Trinco Students' extra-judicial killin..
13.09.08   A family's search for justice
28.06.06   Protect witnesses in Trinco killings, Rights Group tells Col..

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