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CBI approaches Thai authorities

LTTE's Kumaran, 'involved' in the assassination of former PM Rajiv Gandhi, has been 'detained' in Bangkok.

india Updated: Sep 12, 2007 16:49 IST

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has approached the Thai authorities through diplomatic channels to confirm the detention of Kumaran Pathmanathan, a key member of Sri Lanka's rebel Tamil Tigers.

"We have not received any reply from the authorities there. First of all we need to know whether he (Pathmanthan) has been arrested or detained," CBI director Vijay Shankar said on the sidelines of an Interpol conference on cyber-crime being held in New Delhi.

"We have always had good relations with the Thai government and we hope relations will continue to be the same," Shankar added, hopeful that his agency would be able to question the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's (LTTE) chief arms procurer.

Pathmanathan, popularly called "KP", was reportedly involved in the assassination of former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and was detained by Bangkok police on Monday following an Interpol lookout notice for him.

KP, who ran the highly secretive global arms procurement wing of the Tamil Tigers for over two decades, is alleged to have had a hand in procuring the explosives that were used to assassinate Gandhi in May 1991 in Tamil Nadu.

According to officials, CBI, which probed Gandhi's assassination, linked the 2.4 mm Singapore Fragmentation Grenade (SFG) pellets in the suicide belt used to kill him to a lot smuggled by KP's department.

Also linked to KP, according to the CBI, was a 9 mm pistol that Sivarasan, the LTTE operative who oversaw Gandhi's killing, used to commit suicide near Bangalore to avoid capture. "To that extent we had wanted to question him. He is a suspect in the case."

Senior officials of Research & Analysis Wing (RAW), India's external intelligence agency, said that KP was detained while travelling with an Eritrean passport.

"We know he is a big catch that could cripple the LTTE's logistics. We are moving carefully on this and are in touch with the Thai authorities to ascertain more details of him. Let us get more details before we decide to send out a team," a senior intelligence official told IANS.

As a key LTTE functionary in charge of weapons smuggling, KP was believed to live in Thailand and Cambodia. He toured the world on the strength of the numerous passports he held, and had recently managed a Thai citizenship.

The Jain Commission that was set up by the government to look at the larger conspiracy behind Rajiv Gandhi's assassination observed, "KP, a cousin of (LTTE chief V) Prabhakaran, held accounts with the Bank Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), a Pakistani international bank, now defunct, as did Adnan Khashoggi, and even the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)."

According to a Sri Lankan newspaper, Lanka Guardian, KP's arrest was described as a "big blow to the LTTE and their network".

Pathmanathan, who also had a number of aliases, has recently been the subject of a manhunt that stretched to Johannesburg, Yangon, Singapore and Bangkok. Police believe he had bank accounts in Britain, Germany, Denmark, Greece and Australia.