President seeks legal advice; Major General has 21 days to respond
By Nisthar Cassim in New York
Sri Lanka’s Deputy Permanent Representative in the United Nations Major General Shavendra Silva yesterday said he was prepared to face any international court for the sake of Sri Lanka and defend the country.
He had been served summons by US Courts on Friday on a case filed by former tiger cadre Vathsala Devi and wife of LTTE Commander ‘Colonel’ Thambirajah Ramesh, who was killed during the final phase of Sri Lanka’s successful defeat of terrorism in May 2009.
Silva, who was attending a reception hosted for President Rajapaksa and the Lankan delegation to UN General Assembly on Friday when summons was issued to his residence, told the Daily FT in New York that as an individual, an officer and a diplomat, he wasn’t afraid and would fight back for Sri Lanka.
“President Rajapaksa has immediately sought legal advice and directed officials to take the necessary measures. Even with or without diplomatic privileges, I have the strength and courage and I will fight to safeguard Sri Lanka’s interest,” the Major General said.
“It is my duty to protect our troops and defend Sri Lanka’s interest as well as the hard-won peace by defeating terrorism with sacrifices from so many. This law suit is a yet another sinister attempt by the bankrupt LTTE to tarnish the hard-won victory. I will not let any person or organisation downgrade the defeat of terrorism in Sri Lanka, to which many contributed,” Silva emphasised.
Silva, who has 21 days to respond, also likened the LTTE move to Bin Laden’s wife filing a suit against US troops “for killing her husband”.
During the height of the battle against terror, Silva was General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the celebrated 58 Division, which spearheaded the Wanni offensive on one flank.
Ramesh’s wife was formerly a member of the LTTE female wing, whilst her brother Soosai was the head of the Sea Tiger wing.
Vathsala Devi had filed the case on behalf of the LTTE in New York through Attorney-at-Law Visvanathan Rudrakumaran, a member of the LTTE delegation to the Oslo-managed talks in the 2002-2003 period, during Ranil Wickremesinghe’s tenure as the Prime Minister. Rudrakumaran, a New York-based US citizen, is the “Prime Minister” of the Provisional Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) and one of the most influential LTTE leaders in the post-Prabhakaran era.
The case has been filed with multiple claims as well as seeking damages, a move which analysts said suggested that the LTTE was financially bankrupt.
As per Lankan reports, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa has dismissed the LTTE suit as being sinister and baseless.
Reports said the LTTE move was the culmination of a stepped-up anti-Sri Lanka campaign conducted by the LTTE in the US, Europe and Australia since the screening of ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’ by Channel 4 in June.
Devi alleged that her husband had been killed by Lankan troops after being captured on the battlefield.
As per reports, the New York court action follows three Sri Lankan Tamils moving a US court seeking compensation from President Rajapaksa in the post-war era. In this case, the attorney for the petitioners is Bruce Fein, a known supporter of the LTTE.
The court issued summons on President Rajapaksa in connection with three civil cases filed under the Hague Convention over alleged extrajudicial killings.
The summons on the President has been served on the Justice Ministry Secretary under The Hague Convention, to which the US and Sri Lanka are signatories, reports added.
The External Affairs Ministry was quoted as saying that the LTTE had been attacking Majors General Jagath Dias and Prasanna Silva serving at overseas missions. UK-based Silva was attacked in the UK House of Commons on 15 September during a debate on the human rights situation in the Indian sub-continent.