By Raisa Wickrematunge
A ‘red notice’ issued by a court in Chennai, India for the arrest of Kumaran Pathmanathan in April this year remains dormant as both India and Sri Lanka pussy-foot around the court order despite knowing that India’s most wanted “terrorist” is currently residing in Sri Lanka.
Shanmugam Kumaran Tharmalingam (alias Kumaran Pathmanathan) is wanted by the French-based international police organisation Interpol for ‘crimes involving the use of weapons/explosives, criminal conspiracy and terrorism’.
Member States’ police personnel are required to cooperate with Interpol to locate the wanted person “with a view to their arrest and extradition.”
Interpol has issued a ‘red notice’ on Pathmanathan, which ‘seeks the provisional arrest of a wanted person, with a view to extradition based on an arrest warrant or court decision.’
He is listed in the ‘Wanted’ category, for Pathmanathan is widely known as being the chief procurer of weaponry for the LTTE.
KP is also wanted by India in connection with the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.
Those having information on his whereabouts are asked to contact their national or local police.
KP, as he is familiarly known nevertheless has given press interviews – his first being to V. K. Shashikumar, head of Three Headed Lion (THL) – Mediagrove in May this year. Last year, he granted interviews to The Sunday Leader and the web based Transcurrents. He is the Secretary of an NGO, the North-East Rehabilitation and Development Organisation (NERDO) and has even reportedly been flown to the North courtesy of the Sri Lanka Airforce.
But local police claim ignorance of the arrest warrant and India refuses to exert any pressure for the warrant to be executed.
When The Sunday Leader spoke to Acting Inspector General of Police, N K Ilangakoon he said he knew nothing of the Indian warrant. “Not to my knowledge, not at the moment,” he said.
When asked why India did not intervene to extradite KP considering the fact that he was known to be in Sri Lankan custody and has even reportedly travelled to Jaffna by Air Force helicopter, Press and Culture Counsellor Birender Singh Yadav at the Indian High Commission in Colombo said he had no authority to answer such questions, adding he would have to discuss with senior representatives before commenting. When later contacted again, he said the Indian High Commission “would not like to make any comments on this issue.”
Sri Lanka, by protecting KP and ignoring the red notice is acting in violation of international law.
KP was first arrested in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He was brought to Sri Lanka on August 7, 2009, and remains in custody, but is yet to be produced in a civil court.
Meanwhile, UNP MP Jayalath Jayawardena has written to Congress Party Leader Sonia Gandhi on June 14, asking her to take action on the issue.
Jayawardena points out that Interpol had obtained an open warrant for KP from the Chennai courts. “The Government of Sri Lanka and the Ministry of Defence have been providing all facilities…. Even to fly him to Jaffna by Sri Lanka Air Force helicopter and he is being escorted by Army personnel,” Jayawardena said.
He added that the Minister of Prisons had said KP was not held in any prison in the island. “We are in a position to provide documentary evidence to say that [Tharmalingam] is under the protection of the Government of Sri Lanka,” Jayawardena charged, adding that as Sri Lanka is a member of Interpol they are bound to hand him over to authorities.
In the meantime, seven Opposition MPs, including Jayawardena, have tabled a motion in Parliament calling for the appointment of a Parliament Select Committee in order to investigate what charges Tharmalingam is currently being held under and also whether there have been any requests to extradite him.