Colombo, Nov 29 (NIA): Sri Lankan investigators on Tuesday arrested a former Tamil Tiger rebel leader who later became a government minister, over allegations of fraud and corruption during the previous Mahinda Rajapakse regime.
Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan, alias Karuna Amman, was arrested by the Financial Crimes Investigations Division after being questioned for hours for allegedly misusing a state vehicle. .
The Colombo Chief Magistrate remanded him till December 7.
Karuna Amman was a former powerful rebel leader who ruled the Eastern province when he was part of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) but broke away from the rebels in March 2004 to enter mainstream politics.
He was Deputy Minister of National Integration in the Rajapaksa regime but currently holds no political position after the defeat of Rajapaksa in the Presidential election in 2015.
According to Daily Mirror the FCID had commenced investigation after police discovered a super luxury bullet proof vehicle valued at approximately LKR 800 million from Batticaloa, Karuna’s hometown in the Eastern Province.
But misuse of a state vehicle given to Karuna when he was a Deputy Minister of National Integration and Reconciliation in the previous government, is a minor charge compared to the many allegations made against him by domestic and international human rights organizations including the UN.
The most widely quoted allegation against Karuna after he defected from the LTTE in 2004 and joined the Sri Lankan government side, is that he had forcibly recruited nearly 500 child soldiers to fight against the LTTE in the Eastern province in collaboration with the Sri Lankan army.
The Rajapaksa government took Karuna under its wings because his 6000-strong group, with which he defected, had reduced the power of the LTTE in the Eastern Province to such an extent that by 2006 government troops were able to establish complete dominance in the East. He also knew the mind and tactics of LTTE Chief Prabhakaran well, having been his bodyguard at one time and Special Commander of the LTTE in charge of Batticaloa and Amparai districts later.
After defection from the LTTE, Karuna, along with his deputy, Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan, formed a political party cum armed militant group called Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (Tamil Peoples’ Liberation Tigers) which became a force in the Eastern province so much so that Pillayan could become Chief Minister of the province in alliance with Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party.
Since the LTTE was out to assassinate Karuna, he fled to the UK in 2007 on a fake diplomatic passport. But he was arrested, jailed and deported to Sri Lanka in 2008. However, in 2009, Karuna was appointed a Deputy Minister of National Integration by President Rajapaksa.
Meanwhile, the “Karuna group” of gun totting militants, it is alleged, continued to carry out assassinations of pro-LTTE leaders in collaboration with Sri Lankan military intelligence units. Court proceedings reveal that members of the Karuna group might have been involved in the assassination of the Tamil National Alliance MPs N.Raviraj in Colombo in 2006 and Joseph Pararajasingham in Batticaloa in 2005. Pillayan is in jail these days in the Pararajasingham assassination case.
Karuna is married to Nira, a fighting cadre of the LTTE,who now lives abroad with their children.