The government today ruled out the granting of a general amnesty to nearly 300 Tamil political prisoners who engaged in a hunger strike recently, demanding their immediate release.
The decision on refusing an amnesty to prisoners had been arrived at a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The other attendees at the meeting had been Minister for National Dialgue Mano Ganesan, Law and Order and Prison Reforms Minister Tilak Marapana, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Minister D.M. Swaminathan, Inspector General of Police N. K. Ilangakoon, officials from the Prisons Department and Attorney General’s Department.
However, the Prime Minister during the meeting had advised officials of the Attorney General’s Department to consider granting temporary release under bail conditions for those prisoners who can be granted such a facility until their cases are taken up in courts.
Officials of the Attorney General’s department during the meeting insisted that granting a general amnesty for the prisoners was impossible as they had been arrested under Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
Also the AG’s department officials said that they will soon file legal action against a number of prisoners who have credible charges against them.
They pointed out that legal action on a number of others were currently proceeding in courts.
Tamil prisoners, including former LTTE cadres at the main high security prison in Colombo started a hunger strike a couple of weeks back demanding the immediate release of Tamil political prisoners.
The prisoners called for a pardon and refused to suspend the fast until they got an acceptable solution.
After five days the prisoners ended their fast after assurances made by the President and several Tamil political leaders that their issues will be looked into within a short period of time.
Meanwhile the Tamil National Alliance and the Norther Provincial Council too engaged in protests demanding the release of the prisoners.
When questioned TNA Parliamentarian M. A. Sumanthiran said the that party was currently studying the outcome of the meeting chaired by the Premier and will make its stance known shortly.
Minister for National Dialogue Mano Ganesan meanwhile said that according to the government decision a large group of prisoners who are under custody for minor charges will be released under bail conditions.
He described the new development as a step forward in solving the political prisoner issue. Ganesan said that the government will take measures to speed up prosecutions on those who have credible charges and will release others
Meanwhile Prison sources said that prisoners were contemplating re-launching their hunger strike as their demands had not been met.