South Asia

Sri Lanka Tamil Tiger spokesman 'missing after arrest'

Punitharuban Vanitha giving evidence before the presidential panel
Image caption Rasiah Ilantherian's wife says her husband has not been seen since his arrest in May last year

Two prominent Tamil Tiger leaders in Sri Lanka are missing after arrest by the army last year, their wives have told a presidential commission.

LTTE spokesman Rasiah Ilantherian and head of the Tiger intelligence wing in Batticaloa, Prabha have not been seen since being detained, they said.

The two wives were among hundreds of Tamil and Muslims testifying to the panel in Batticaloa, eastern Sri Lanka.

Many Tamil civilians complained about missing relatives.

The government has made no comment about these cases, but has previously rejected accusations by human rights groups of abductions.

The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission has been conducting hearings over the weekend.

Punitharuban Vanitha, the wife of the Tamil Tiger spokesman Ilantherian said her husband was taken away by the army on 17 May 2009, just before the Tigers suffered their final defeat.

She was told, she said, that he would be returned after treatment for minor injuries. Ms Vanitha says that she has not seen her husband since then.

Bobitha Prabhaharan, the wife of Prabha, also said her husband was detained in May last year, and has heard nothing from him since.

Muslims' lands 'occupied'

Representatives of the Muslim community, meanwhile, told the panel that Muslims are yet to resettle in their ancestral lands as Tamils are still occupying it.

Image caption Muslims say Tamils are still occupying their land in eastern Sri Lanka

They warned of renewed conflicts if steps were not taken to give back land captured by the Tamils during the conflict.

The panel was appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to investigate events from 2002 to end of the conflict in May last year, and recommend measures for reconciliation.

Critics, however, have questioned the credibility of the investigation and whether its report would ever be published.

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