The controversy surrounding the public boast by Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman alias ‘Colonel’ Karuna, at a political rally held in Navadinveli in Ampara, of having killed up to 3,000 soldiers in a single night at Elephant Pass and several more at Kilinochchi, seems to have cast a shadow over the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). It was during its previous incarnation as the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) led by Mahinda Rajapaksa that Karuna Amman entered Parliament through its National List and sworn in as the Minister of National Integration. In what appeared to be a clear case of political expediency Karuna, who headed the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP), later joined or was induced to join the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), with which neither he nor the TMVP had any previous links and appointed as one of its vice presidents. With Karuna becoming an embarrassment to the SLPP, its members are tripping over each other to disown him and sanitize themselves of any connection to the man, who claimed to be more dangerous than COVID-19, which had killed 11 people and infected a thousand more in Sri Lanka.
With this as the backdrop, we carry some excerpts of an interview with Daily Mirror where former trial attorney at The Hague’s International Criminal Tribunal (ICC), senior counsel Anura Meddegoda urged the government to complain to the Tribunal of the crimes against humanity allegedly committed by Karuna Amman, an LTTE front-line combatant turned politician. He said it was imperative for the law enforcement agencies to conduct an investigation into Karuna’s public admission.
“One incident I can remember is the massacre of Buddhist monks at Aranthalawa. The other is the killing of police personnel at the Batticaloa police station after they surrendered,” the senior attorney said adding that there was no prescription against serious crimes such as murder, treason and crimes against the State, and no matter when they were committed, whether in 1995 or 900, the offenders could still be tried.
Meanwhile, the People’s Rights Group (PRG), an advocacy and lobbying group based in Britain and focusing on human rights violations in Sri Lanka, urged the Sri Lankan Government to launch an impartial investigation into the many war crimes and human rights abuses said to have been committed by LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran’s one-time deputy.
It said the many war crimes charges against Karuna were never investigated after he defected from the LTTE in 2004 and collaborated with the Sri Lankan armed forces to help defeat the LTTE.
The PRG said it was of the view that Karuna’s alleged crimes were not only punishable under Sri Lanka’s Penal Code but also under the category of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Be that as it may, the DM in its lead story published last Saturday said the United States had rubbished claims made on the proposed Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact after a review committee raised concerns about some of the clauses in the agreement.
The President’s Office quoted Review Committee Chairman Prof. Lalithasiri Gunaruwan, as having told President Gotabaya Rajapaksa that US$7.4 million and US$2.6 million had been granted to the then Government in two stages as part of the proposed deal, but not accounted for.
US Embassy Public Affairs Officer David McGuire had reportedly informed the DM that no MCC grant monies were ever transferred to or spent by the Government under the proposed US$480 million grant.
“Nearly all of the MCC-managed funding to support grant-preparatory activities have either been cancelled or indefinitely postponed pending the Government’s decision on whether to proceed with the grant -- was made available under the same highly transparent and accountable procedures used to enable other US development work,” he said, and when asked if the review committee had meetings with the Embassy to clarify its findings, Mr. McGuire said it had only a single meeting with the MCC country director and did not request for any meetings with Embassy officials.
He had highlighted the fact that the request for an MCC grant was first made during the tenure of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Government in 2005.
The MCC was vilified and maligned by the SLPP in the run-up to the 2019 presidential election, as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. They threatened to dump it into the waste bin should its presidential candidate win the presidency. Nothing of the sort has happened even seven months since assuming office. Oh! What games some politicians play, preying on the gullible, the poor and the powerless and looking to fool the people all the time.