Sri Lanka Police quibble over spent ordnance

[TamilNet, Thursday, 27 March 2003, 16:57 GMT]
The Sri Lankan Police Thursday produced in the district court of Mannar a person arrested allegedly for transporting empty casings of artillery shells. Police told court that they had found six empty casings, each two feet long, in a lorry bringing scrap metal from the Vanni at the Uyilankulam entry point in Mannar. Legal sources in the Mannar courts, however, said expended ordnance was not illegal.

The Police arrested the driver, Arumugam Navaratnarajah of Periyakadai in Mannar town, and seized the lorry.

Hundreds of thousands of spent artillery shells litter the areas where the Liberation Tigers fought fierce battles with the Sri Lanka army in the Vanni since 1990.

Empty casings of artillery ammo are also found in their thousands in the large camps and firing bases of the Sri Lankan armed forces which were destroyed by the LTTE before December 2001.

The empty casings were collected by destitute civilians in areas where the Liberation Tigers had cleared land mines for use as gongs, vases etc.,

Since the LTTE and Colombo signed a ceasefire agreement in February 2002, scrap metal sellers began offering attractive prices for expended ordnance in the Vanni and in other parts of the northeast where the Sri Lankan armed forces had abandoned their positions.

Legal sources in Mannar said that the Police action was curious as scrap metal trade is quite legal, even if it involved spent ordnance.

The Mannar Police urged the magistrate Thursday to remand the driver of the lorry until 8 April.

They (the Police) said that the empty casings were suspect and that hence the case required time to investigate.

The magistrate, however, remanded the driver for a day as the man's relatives moved for bail.
Ordnance
A Muslim scrap metal trader with a collection of empty M-16 cartridge casings he found in the premises of the Pullumalai Church which was occupied by commandos of the Special Task Force before May 2002. Pullumalai is 40 kilometres northwest of Batticaloa

 

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