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Military is responsible for disappeared victims during the war Vavuniya High Court Judge Ilancheliyan


The Vavuniya High Court has ruled that the Sri Lanka Army along with several other former officers should be held accountable for Kandasamy Eelarangans disappearance during the war in Sri Lanka.The verdict was delivered by the Vavuniya High Court Judge M. Ilancheliyan on February 7 2024 during the hearing of the habeas corpus petition concerning the disappearance of the victim Kandasamy Eelarangan 18 years ago. Kandasamy Eelarangan 28 disappeared on May 5 2006 according to his mother's complaint traveling to Colombo via Omanthai in a van.Omanthai check post was a major checking point of the Sri Lanka Army during that period and many families of the disappeared complained that their loved ones were last seen at the Omanthai check post being questioned by the Army. As per his writ application Kandasamy Eelarangan has driven a van through the Omanthai check post to drop off a passenger at the Katunayake Bandaranaike International Airport. The army stopped the vehicle at the said heck post and searched Kandasamy Eelarangan and the passenger entering the armycontrolled area from the LTTEcontrolled area.Since it was a period of strict restrictions Kandasamy Eelarangans mother was unable to search for her son immediately. later she logged complained to the ICRC Human Rights Commission Police authorities but to no avail.Senior Counsel KS Ratnavale filed a habeas corpus writ application on behalf of the said victims mother in the Vavuniya High Court in 2006.Sri Lanka Army Commander and the Officer Commanding of the 211th Brigade of the Army have been named as respondents in this petition.Sri Lanka Army has objected to this petition stating that the victim had left the check post after they were checked. As the final phase of the war intensified the displacement of people the court proceedings came to a standstill.After the war ended permission was sought in 2013 from the Supreme Court to resume the case. The case has since been prosecuted and the suspects including the petitioner and the defendants have given evidence in the Vavuniya High Court.Kandasamy Eelarangan's mother has rejected claims of the Sri Lankan army that he left the Omanthai check post. She stated that "If he had left the army check post he would have informed me." She testified in Court that he disappeared at the particular check post.Also the Senior Counsel said that there is no information regarding the youth Umadharan who is said to have traveled in the van with Kandasamy Eelarangan and mentioned that no one has filed any case in the court regarding him.After examining such issues Vavuniya High Court Judge M. Ilancheliyan delivered the verdict and said that the former Commanding Officer Omanthai the Vanni Commander and the Sri Lanka Army Commander during that period were responsible for the disappearance of Eelarangan. At the time of the youths disappearance in May 2006 the Sri Lankan Army was commanded by Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka who later became an opposition MP while Major General W.U.B. Edirisinghe had served as the Vanni Commander.The Vavuniya High Court Judge has additionally directed the Attorney General to initiate legal proceedings regarding the disappearance of the youth. Furthermore the judge has instructed the Sri Lanka Army to ensure that steps are taken to produce Kandasamy Eelarangan in court on or before June 3.Ilancheliyan has also said in his decision that if these directives are not implemented the three military officers identified as responsible must compensate the young mans mother with Rs. 1 million before 3 December 2024. Senior Counsel KS Ratnavel representing the victims had however informed the court that the Tamil youth had arrived at the Omanthai check post as he is mentioned in the registration documentation there. The lawyer further stated before the court that the young man was last seen at the Omanthai checkpoint and thereafter had disappeared.The Army spokesperson stated that the matter has referred to the Legal Unit of the Army and appropriate action will be taken.Although such verdicts have been delivered in Sinhala areas yet this is the first time a breakthrough verdict has been delivered in Tamil area. As this is a habeas corpus writ application there would be no sentencing but compensation can be claimed.

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