BY GIUSEPPE VALIANTE ,QMI AGENCY/Toronto Sun –
MONTREAL – A Montrealer of Tamil origin was reportedly murdered in northern Sri Lanka in early May after attempting to recover property lost during the war, QMI Agency has learned.
The family of Andrew Mahendrarajah Antonipillai, 53, learned of his death on May 3, his brother-in-law told QMI Agency on Saturday.
However, Benjo Ponniah could not confirm media reports his brother-in-law was found with his throat slit and his genitals mutilated in the northern Sri Lankan town of Kilinochchi.
Kilinochchi was the headquarters for the Tamil Tigers, a separatist group that fought for independence from the Sri Lankan government for 26 years. The civil war ended in 2009 when government forces declared victory over the Tigers.
Ponniah, who is a reverend living in the Ottawa area, said Antonipillai was in Sri Lanka with family to reclaim property. He said he is waiting for Antonipillai’s brothers to return to Canada from Sri Lanka to give him a more accurate picture of the events surrounding his brother-in-law’s death.
Ponniah said he didn’t know if the media reports were true and didn’t want to talk about the claim that Antonipillai’s body was mutilated.
“If that is the way that it happened then it’s not acceptable,” he said. “What we are focusing on right now is getting his body back to Canada for the funeral.”
Jean-Bruno Villeneuve, spokesperson for the department of Foreign Affairs, told QMI Agency on Saturday that a Canadian citizen “is believed to have been murdered in Sri Lanka.”
“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the Canadian citizen,” he said. “(Foreign Affairs) is providing consular services to assist the family.”
Ponniah said Antonipillai’s body is expected in Canada on Sunday. Funeral services are scheduled to begin Friday in Montreal.
Ponniah said his brother-in-law designed furniture in Montreal and was “very well-known” in the city’s Tamil community.
The BBC reported on Friday that Canada’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka said Antonipillai was murdered by men outside of Kilinochchi. The BBC report added the commissioner formally asked the Sri Lankan government for a full investigation into Antonipillai’s death.