Sri Lanka on Thursday released 93 prisoners, including 16 LTTE terror suspects held without charges, after they were pardoned by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
The prisoners were released on the presidential pardon on the occasion of Poson Poya, an annual festival celebrated by Sri Lanka’s Buddhist majority to mark the arrival of Buddhism in the country.
Prison spokesman Thushara Upuldeniya said the suspects belonging to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were among the 93 who had received the presidential pardon.
They have been released from the prison in the northern town of Jaffna and the north-central town of Anuradhapura. They were arrested under the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
Sri Lankan presidents on significant Buddhist days use their executive authority to release prisoners after necessary recommendations from authorities.
The main Tamil party, the TNA, has been pressing along with rights groups to seek the release of Tamil political prisoners, who have been held without charges for over 10-20 years.
The European Parliament early this month adopted a resolution calling for the repealing of Sri Lanka’s PTA.
TNA sources said nearly 100 Tamil political prisoners are being held without charges. The Sri Lankan government maintains there are no political prisoners in jail.
The LTTE ran a military campaign for a separate Tamil homeland in the northern and eastern provinces of the island nation for nearly 30 years before its collapse in 2009 after the Sri Lankan Army killed its supreme leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.
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