Swiss to grill Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka

Last Updated: Fri, Jul 27, 2012 09:50 hrs

Colombo, July 27 (IANS) Swiss officials are to visit Sri Lanka to talk to Tamil Tigers in custody over rebel activities in Switzerland and the funds they collected to support their war, the government said Friday.

Legal officers of the Federal State Prosecutor's office, the Swiss Federal criminal police, translators and defense counsel will reach Sri Lanka in September to question 26 witnesses.

The Sri Lankan government quoted Swiss officials as saying that so far 120 witnesses and informants have been questioned in Switzerland regarding the suspected criminal activities of the Tamil Tigers.

The case is connected with illegally procured funds being willfully diverted to support the Tamil Tigers in their war against the Sri Lankan Army.

During the war, the Tamil Tigers were believed to have received huge amounts of money from the Tamil diaspora to purchase weapons to fight the army.

Most weapons were shipped to Sri Lanka directly to rebel controlled areas and the chief arms procurer for the rebels, Kumaran Padmanathan, was arrested in 2009 in Malaysia.

The army crushed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009 after 30 years of fighting which saw thousands being killed on both sides including civilians.

Apart from Switzerland, officials in the US, Canada, France, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands are also conducting investigations on the LTTE.

Since 2009, Swiss prosecutors have lodged cases against many Tamil Tiger suspects in Switzerland.

Over a dozen leaders of the Tamil Tigers have been accused of laundering money, belonging to criminal organisations for threats and extortion. They include the former chief of the Tamil Tigers in Switzerland.

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