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UK jails ex-SL Tiger Karuna for ID fraud PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 27 January 2008

Reuters, London

Britain sentenced renegade ex-Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger rebel Karuna Amman to nine months in prison on Friday for identity document fraud and now rights groups hope he will face additional war crimes charges. The ex-eastern Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam commander is accused by rights groups of torture, abductions, killings and child soldier recruitment both before and after splitting from the mainstream rebels in 2004.

Analysts say he switched his support to the government, and rights groups accuse security forces of turning a blind eye to his actions before his own group ousted him last year and he fled to Britain.

British officials say they have asked Sri Lanka how Karuna, real name V Muralitharan, was able to acquire an apparently genuine Sri Lankan diplomatic passport under a false name.

The Metropolitan police and immigration authorities arrested him in London late last year and he pleaded guilty to magistrates before Christmas.

'He has been sentenced to nine months in prison for holding false identity documents,' a court official told Reuters. 'He has already served 32 days on remand.' The maximum sentence would have been two years but rights groups had feared he might just be fined and leave the country.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers and others have called for Karuna to be charged in Britain for a variety of war crimes but campaigners say witnesses have been reluctant to come forward.

They hope the fact Karuna is behind bars will boost their confidence — but with extra-judicial killings still widespread in Sri Lanka with the resumption of civil war and international criticism of poor witness protection, many are still seen to be too scared to testify.

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