Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Four LTTE arms smugglers sentenced to jail in Maldives

Four LTTE cadres who were recently seized in Maldivian waters when sailing in a hijacked Indian fishing trawler carrying weapons for the LTTE, have been sentenced to 15 years and 6 months imprisonment by the Maldivian criminal court.

The accused are Mahindhra Rasa Kajeevan (20), Ramesh Raja Chandhan (20), Muthalingam Yogaras (24), and Navarathna Rasa Ranjeeth (21). They pleaded guilty to the charges of illegally crossing international waters into Maldivian territory, "disobedience to orders" and firing at Maldivian security forces.

The hijacked trawler carrying weapons for the LTTE terrorists was destroyed by Maldivian coastguards on 17th June, when intercepted off Gaaff Alif atoll in Maldivian waters.

The suspected trawler flying a Sri Lankan ensign was first observed by the Maldivian fishermen. Maldivian coastguard vessels later ordered the suspected trawler to stop for inspection. When it ignored this order and started firing at the Coastguard vessel, they carried out a retaliatory attack and destroyed the trawler following a hot pursuit.

Maldivian officials indicated that five crew members, including the LTTE terrorist cadres, who had jumped overboard from the destroyed boat, were rescued by the Maldivian coastguards. A crewmember speaking the South Indian Malayalam language had identified himself as a South Indian fisherman and told the Coastguards that the trawler was smuggling arms and ammo for the LTTE.

He has further revealed that the four LTTE terrorists had hijacked the fishing vessel and threw the other crew members overboard along with their fishing gear. He had also claimed that he was spared because he is the Technical Officer on the vessel, and was needed by the crew in case of breakdown.

Source: Defence Srilanka

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