It was not what the doctor had ordered for the tattered remains of the LTTE or its wounded credibility. Last week, the government brought out the five doctors — after the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) detained and apparently fed them well in big, airy rooms for about eight weeks — to recant their version of events in the final days of the battle between the army and the Tigers.
They said, the LTTE forced them to inflate civilian death figures. Not more than 650-odd civilians actually died between January and May, most died in crossfire, government troops did not shell the ‘no fire zone’ — the five took turns in denying the information they had shared with the media (including HT) from the war zone.
The LTTE, they said, had forced them to give out wrong information at the point of a gun.
Government officials or army officers were not within sight but a few strategically positioned grim-faced, officiously dressed individuals seemed to be acting as their eyes and ears.
Rights bodies questioned the circumstances under which the doctors recanted. Amnesty asked about what to expect from them after being detained by the CID.
In fact, even before the doctors’ confessed, government ministers in May had said that the medics were pressured by the LTTE to give wrong information.
So, why were they arrested and why are they being investigated for links with the LTTE? Fair enough to investigate the two who had links with the Tigers. But what about the three government doctors?
Saying something, first, under the LTTE’s pressure and then changing the statement under the careful watch of the government — how does one believe either version?