Sri Lanka releases 93 prisoners, including 16 LTTE terror suspects
Sri Lanka on Thursday released 93 prisoners, including 16 suspected LTTE terrorists held without charge, after being pardoned by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
The prisoners were released thanks to presidential pardon on the occasion of Poson Poya, an annual holiday celebrated by the Buddhist majority in Sri Lanka to mark the arrival of Buddhism in the country.
Prison spokesman Thushara Upuldeniya said suspects belonging to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were among the 93 who had received the presidential pardon.
They were released from prison in the northern city of Jaffna and the north-central city of Anuradhapura. They were arrested under the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
Sri Lankan presidents of important Buddhist days are using their executive authority to release prisoners after necessary recommendations from the authorities.
The main Tamil party, TNA, has lobbied with rights groups to demand the release of Tamil political prisoners, who have been held without charge for more than 10 to 20 years.
The European Parliament adopted a resolution earlier this month calling for the repeal of Sri Lanka’s EPA.
TNA sources said nearly 100 Tamil political prisoners are being held without charge. The Sri Lankan government maintains that there are no political prisoners in prison.
The LTTE waged a military campaign for a separate Tamil homeland in the island nation’s northern and eastern provinces for nearly 30 years before it collapsed in 2009 after the Sri Lankan military killed its supreme leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.