For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

Release’ Vanni doctor – court

A court in Sri Lanka has ordered the police to release one of the five doctors accused of collaborating with the Tamil Tigers if no evidence is found against him.

Colombo Chief Magistrate Champa Janaki Rajaratne made the order as the case against Dr. T Satyamurthy, government Medical Superintendent for Mullaitivu district, was taken in for the hearing on Monday.

Submitting a report, police criminal investigation department (CID) said investigations against Dr. Satyamurthy have been completed and a report has been submitted to the Attorney General (AG) for advice.

The magistrate then made the order after lawyers representing the accused doctor requested the court to release their client if no evidence found against him.

The police was ordered to inform the court of further course of action on 12 July.

International media

During the final phase of the war, the group of doctors treated casualties admitted to the makeshift health posts in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)-held zone encircled by government forces.

They also gave interviews to international media about the situation.

They became the only voice coming out of the rebel held areas during the last stages of the war.

Two of them were senior local health directors and the United States has said they “helped save many lives” while the UN called them “heroic”.

In an interview with BBC World News television, Sri Lanka’s then Foreign Minister Rohita Bogollagama accused the doctors of “spreading falsehoods”.

One of the four accused doctors, Dr. V Shanmugarajah, contested the 08 April parliamentary elections in a pro-government party.

Dr V Shanmugarajah, believed to have been enlisted by the now-defeated Tamil Tigers into their medical team, gave high casualty figures to aid agencies and the media from within the combat zone.

While in government custody, all five doctors who worked in Sri Lanka’s combat zone in the last weeks of the war said they exaggerated figures for civilian casualties.

They did so, they told reporters, because of pressure on them from the Tamil Tiger rebels, who controlled the area where they were working.

June 2010
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