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Mirusuvil Massacre : We came under mortar fire - Witness

by Indeewara Thilakarathne

We fled Mirusuvil as we came under mortar fire said witness Kandaiya Ponnadurai (60) when he was cross examined by the Senior State Counsel Sarath Jayamanna before a specially constituted three judge bench hearing the Murusuvil Massacre trial at the High Court of Colombo,yesterday.

The Trial-at-Bar comprised High Court Judges S.I.Imam ( President), Sarath Ambepitiya and Kumar Ekaratne.

The Attorney General had framed charges against five soldiers of the Sri Lanka Army, attached the Gajabha regiment of the Saliya Pura camp Anuradhapura with causing injuries to one and committing the murders of eight others who were residents of Mirusuvil village Jaffna on December 19, 2000.

According to the indictment the accused are charged for 19 counts under section 146 to be read with Section 296 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Testifying further the witness said that he settled down in Mirusuvil after marriage and has been living there for about 40 years.He fled the village after a shell attack in 2000. Then the witness had moved to Karawadhi with his wife Lechchami, his son Ponnadurai and Wijerani.He said although he had left the village,the family was in the habit of visiting Mirusuvil from time to time.He also said that his daughter lives in Jaffna.

On the morning of December 19,2000 at about 6.30 a.m, Ponnadurai Maheswaran left for Mirusuvil, Ponnadurai had told the witness that he was going to Mirusuvil that day.The witness conveyed this to his wife.

Mahashwaran was in a striped sarong and white T-shirt.He went on a Hero bicycle. He took a knife and a nylon rope with him. Kandaiya further said that his son Maheswaran did not return that night and the witness had gone in search of his son at dawn the following day.

Later on December 20,2000, the witness met his son at a boutique between Kodikaman and Mirusuvil on the way to Mirusuvil. Maheswaran sat on the front bar of a Lumala Bicycle ridden by an unknown person.Later Maheswaran had told the witness that the man who rode the bicycle was Moniyan's son.The witness noticed that Maheswaran's face was swollen.

Upon inquiry, Maheshwaran told the witness that he was attacked by the army at Farmwatte and the others in the group were in Army custody.He said that they also took his identity cards.

Further examined by State Counsel Sarath Jayamanna, the witness said that the Army did not check his identity cards as he is very old. Kandaiya said that Vairawan Nadesu is his son-in-law and Kadiran Gnanachandran and Shanthan (Nadesu's son) who were in the group, were his relations.

Witness Kandaiya had met Vairawan Nadesu and spoken to him.Later Maheswaran and the witness came home at 9.30 a.m.The witness told his wife that eight of the group were in Army captivity.

While Maheswaran went to bed,witness wife Lechchami had gone to the EPDP office situated one and half miles away from the house to report about the incident.Later the EPDP members had visited the witness and took his son Maheswaran to Madagal hospital.

Cross-examined by Defence Counsel Anil Silva , the witness said that he did not mention in the statement to the police that he saw Ravivarman at home.He did not meet his nephew Kadiran Gnanachandran and Gnanachandran Shanthan. But the witness said that he knew that Ponnadurai Maheswaran went to Farmwatte with Ravivarman.

However the witness later admitted that he did not mention anyone who accompanied his son to Farmwatte in the statements he made to the Magistrate and at the Coroner's inquest.

The witness confirmed that he left home on the morning of December 20,2000 at 4 a.m and not at 6 a.m as suggested by the defence. At the Magistrate's inquest the witness had mentioned that he met his son at Kodikaman Market and not at Mirusuwil.

Defence Counsel: "I suggest that you did not see your son? ". Witness: " No I saw him " . DC: On December 20, You travelled by bicycle with your son to Kodikaman ? W: Yes DC: On the way you met Vairawan Nadesu and son and spoke to them? W:No. It was I who spoke to him and his son looked pale. DC:Did you mentioned that you met Vairawan Nadesu at Suthuwal Amman Kovil and that your son spoke to him,in your statement to Police? W :No. I did not say so in the statement.

The witness said that the son of Ponnadurai Maheswaran had only told him about the arrest of the others in the group by the army when he returned home on December 20,2000.

The witness's wife had gone to the EPDP camp on her own accord while the witness visited his daughter Parameshwari. Kandiah had told her that Gnanachandran and Shanthan were captured by the army.

The witness spent that entire evening at Madagal hospital with his son.The following day the witness came home with his son after visiting the EPDP camp on the way.

P.K.D. Mithraratne, Mahinda Lokuge with Anil Silva appeared for the five accused while D.W. Abayakoon P.C with Chandrapala Kumarage, K.S. Ratnavale, K. Shanmugalingam, V.Punitharan and M.Remadius appeared for the aggrieved party.

Senior State Counsel Sarath Jayamanna,State Counsel Madawa Thennakoon and N. Marasinghe appeared for the prosecution.

Further hearing was put off for on March 26,2003.

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