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Lankan Govt critic detained, questioned

world Updated: Sep 02, 2009 21:20 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The head of a Colombo-based think-tank and a known government critic was detained and questioned by the Terrorist Investigations Department (TID) on Wednesday morning.

Paikasoty Saravanamuttu, executive director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), was detained at the international airport in Colombo as he was returning from a foreign country. He was questioned by officers of the TID for a few hours before releasing him.

Reports said that airport authorities, who initially detained Dr Saravanamuttu at the airport, had said the TID had wanted to question him since February and kept him at the airport till the TID had arrived.

Saravanamuttu, who had just last month lodged a complaint with the police over a death threat, was not told why he was being detained but was only informed that TID officials had wanted him questioned.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka government has said it regretted the international community's criticism of the verdict on JS Tissainayagam by the Colombo High Court. On Monday, senior journalist Tissainayagam was sentenced to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment for his alleged involvement with the LTTE.

The Lankan foreign ministry said the issue of pardon at the executive level does not arise at this juncture, since such an option could only come into consideration following all judicial procedures for an appeal being exhausted.

``Questioning or criticising this judicial action is misplaced, especially since Tissainayagam has yet the right to appeal in accordance with Sri Lanka's judicial process in respect of the appellate courts,'' the ministry said.

In another development, the UN special envoy on extra-judicial executions, Philip Alston, has told Radio Australia's Connect Asia program he has requested a visit to Sri Lanka to find out more on the recently-released video which showed men in military fatigues execute blindfolded prisoners.

He told the program: "The government has come out very strongly, denied the validity of this particular video and also insisted that there have been no other such killings in the last year or so. If that's the case, then the government has got nothing to lose and everything to gain by inviting an independent international investigation.''