PTA prisoners may be released soon | Sunday Observer

PTA prisoners may be released soon

A mechanism to secure the release of Tamil ‘political’ prisoners is being formulated following consultations with President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Justice Minister Susil Premajayanth and parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa and it is likely that a majority of the prisoners will be released before long, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Angajan Ramanathan told the Sunday Observer.

 He and two other Deputy Ministers representing the Tamil-speaking people of the North and the East, S. Viyalendran and Kader Masthan, met Minister Premajayanth following their meetings with the President and the Premier on securing the release of the 105 prisoners in detention under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) for periods ranging from 10-25 years.

Some of them have been convicted and sentenced while the cases of some others are being heard and indictments have not been filed in respect of many others, Ramanathan said.

Of the 105 prisoners, 71 are in the New Magazine prison, whom they met, before meeting the national leaders, he said, adding that their team of Deputy Ministers had collected details of the prisoners.

The President, the Premier and the Justice Minister have given positive signals and a final report called for from Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya, by the Minister, is now being awaited, Ramanathan said. The possibility of obtaining a presidential clemency for those already convicted and sentenced would be considered under this mechanism, he said.

The fact that 12,000 ex-LTTE combatants were released and rehabilitated by the then UPFA government should be taken into consideration, it was pointed out by other sources that have long been agitating for the release of the prisoners.

The question of their release has to essentially be a political approach and not legal, the sources said, adding that the evidence against them is their own confession which are authentic statements under the PTA, but not so under the new law that is being formulated to conform to international standards, the sources said.